Every traveler knows that there’s nothing quite like the epic headache of losing internet access while on the road. It can completely throw off your entire day, and you could waste valuable time scrambling to try to get WiFi.
We are all so connected these days, so being without the internet for even a few hours can feel like losing our tether to the world.
Fortunately, I’ve learned how you can have your cake and eat it too! It’s totally possible to travel to the remotest corners of the planet and never lose your internet connection.
Here are the best ways to get internet while traveling…
Check With Your Current Provider
Turning on your data while traveling overseas is an excellent way to rack up a huge phone bill. Before you hop on that plane, check with your carrier.
Let them know what countries you are planning on visiting and ask them if they have any type of data package. Many cell phone providers offer international plans.
Sure, you’ll pay a little bit extra, but you’ll save tons of money in the long run. I’ve often done this when traveling to countries where WiFi is spotty at best.
It’s a great way to get peace of mind without having to dread your next phone bill!
Utilize A Mobile Hotspot
A mobile hotspot isn’t exactly the same thing as adding an international plan onto your existing service, but it’s along the same lines.
Essentially all you need to do is download a mobile app that turns your phone into a hot spot. Simply click on and connect and you have internet!
If you’re traveling with other people you can share your hotspot, so your less connected friends can still update their Facebook statuses or check important work emails.
I’ve found that mobile hotspot apps are always reliable and quick, but the costs can add up over time. You’ll be paying right around $10 per day for your mobile hotspot, so it’s best to check with your provider before going the hotspot route.
If you are a digital nomad, traveling to a really remote place for a very short period of time, or if money is not an issue, mobile hotspots are an awesome option.
There are free mobile hotspot options but don’t expect them to be as reliable as the paid options. I haven’t had too much luck with the free versions, and many will eventually ask you to pay after a short trial period.
Get A Local SIM Card
There are some countries where you can easily get a local SIM card but others have trickier restrictions on who can access their local providers.
Weigh your options and check out the rules for the place that you’re visiting. If you find that you can easily get a local SIM card, do it.
Make sure that you keep your original SIM card in a safe place though. I’ve lost them, and they’re a complete pain to replace!
You will also need to unlock your phone. Most providers don’t want you using another type of service with their device, which is fine except for those staggeringly high roaming charges.
If you’ve had your phone for over a year, your provider should be able to unlock it for you. If it’s a newer phone, you might be out of luck.
There are plenty of places that will unlock the phone for you, and most of them only require you to leave your phone with them for a matter of a few hours. Of course, I can’t vouch for the reliability of any of these little computer shops, especially ones that are in different countries.
I’ve had my phone unlocked this way, but I’ve heard horror stories. Proceed with caution!
Find The Local WiFi
If you don’t want to incur roaming charges, pay for a mobile hotspot, or fool around with getting a local SIM card, you can always just rely on good old WiFi!
There are very few places in the world that aren’t connected, and this is especially true if you’re visiting bigger cities or staying in halfway decent places.
You will have no problem finding excellent WiFi in Shanghai, but less luck in that remote town in the Sacred Valley. Just use your judgment. If you’re going on a remote mountain trek, you are not going to be able to plug into super quick WiFi. There are certain places that have excellent WiFi all over the world.
For better or worse, Starbucks is a global presence and you can always find some amazing WiFi to go along with your mocha latte.
Similarly, large hotel chains and even higher-end hostels will have excellent WiFi. Selinas, a popular hostel chain in South America offers free WiFi and co-working spaces for digital nomads. If you are relying on local WiFi, pick your lodging wisely.
Do Your Research In Advance
The best way to make sure that you have internet while traveling is simply to tap into your resources. I am part of tons of Facebook groups that are full of people who travel for work and pleasure.
Whenever I’m thinking about heading to a new place, I always drop a post onto one of the groups and wait for the responses. People are happy to help.
We have all been in situations where we can’t access the resources that we need. Lean on the international community and make a plan for getting the internet that you need when you’re traveling.
I once found an incredible Airbnb in Peru simply by putting some feelers out. The WiFi was fantastic and it was only $10 a night!
Don’t go it alone. Use that connectivity for something positive, and ask others to weigh in on where the best internet is. Next time you’re traveling don’t wait until you get home to post all of those epic sunset photos on Facebook.
You don’t need to be internet-deprived. With a little forethought and planning, you will never be unconnected again.
International Wifi Hotspot Devices (My Favorite Option)
This is by far my favorite option. In recent years, companies who have been trying to solve the international connectivity issue have come up with an amazing solution:
International Portable Wifi and 4G Hotspot Devices.These devices work by converting any 4G signal into usable Wifi for multiple devices.
It’s kind of like carrying around your wireless Wifi router in your bag or pocket. These devices are compact and portable. They’re also very easy to recharge.
Most portable worldwide Wifi devices can be charged through a USB port and some devices will even allow you to charge your devices as you travel.
To use one of these portable hotspots, you just decide whether to buy or rent and then set your device up. That’s right, I said rent. You can rent some of these devices for low daily prices.
This way, if your trip is only going to be a few days long, you don’t have to make a big investment.
You just activate your Wifi hotspot and then pay for the days that you’ll need Wifi. There are no contracts, no hidden fees, and no overages. You get unlimited Wifi access for however long you pay for it, all for one flat low price.
Usually, these devices will come with pay-as-you-go plans. This way, you only have to pay for the days that you’ll be using Wifi.
If you’re going to be following non-structured travel plans, you can just pay for a month of access before you head out on your trip and you’ll be all set to go. You can connect multiple devices to these hotspots as well.
So, if you’re traveling with more than one person, everyone will have access to a fast and reliable internet anywhere in the world.
These devices work in hundreds of countries. Anywhere that cell signal is available, you’ll have Wifi too. Just be sure to set up your device before you leave from home.
Benefits International Wifi Hotspot Devices
- Work in 100’s of countries
- Rent or buy
- No contracts or overage fees
- Unlimited internet access when you want it
- Portable rechargeable devices
- Like carrying your Wifi router with you
- Saves money when compared to international phone plans or SIM cards
- Easy to use
- Reliable and fast 4G data speeds
- Quick downloads
- Secure connection
Drawbacks International Wifi Hotspot Devices
- Must be set up before you leave
In My Opinion…
Personally, I never travel without my international hotspot device. It’s just become something that I depend on. I didn’t think that I would use it as much as I do to be quite honest.
However these days, I’m the one who gets asked “how do you have Wifi here?” instead of being the person who feels out of the loop. That right there may be the best part about using one of these devices.
Remember, no matter what you’re planning to do for Wifi, have a plan before you leave your home base.
It’s never fun to be stranded in another country trying to get someone to pick up from a phone number they don’t recognize.