Half of my anxiety while traveling is worrying that I’ll get there and the city or country will inexplicably not have wine. The other half is rooted in the unfounded fear that I will somehow lose contact with the life I’ve temporarily left behind, like somehow by leaving home I have actually left Earth, and nobody will reach me ever again. This is not to imply that I’m important or that people need to get in touch with me, but should the opportunity arise, I’d like to be available.
Because of this, I spend quite a bit of time researching the internet on the internet. More casually, I’d like to know about the wifi sitch – can I connect on the plane so I can iMessage my friends about how I accidentally took a sleeping pill instead of exlax and now I’m high? When I’m in the city, will I be able to call an Uber so I don’t have to get into a cab and panic when required to tell the driver where I need to go (“UH, UH, JUST ANY MCDONALDS WILL DO”)? And what about the hotel? Will I have to flip through a bunch of awful local channels, or can I stream Outlander for the thirtieth time?
The internet/connectivity concern really ratchets up whenever I go out of the country for two kinda duh reasons:
1.) International data plans are stupid expensive.
2.) They don’t always work.
I thought about this a lot before I went to France in September 2016, and one of my angst-fueled searches led me to portable hotspot rental. In this case, I used the un-mysteriously named Travel Wifi. Here’s my pro/con breakdown:
1.) They delivered the hotspot to our hotel. Whoever you chose, make sure the delivery of the device is convenient. Many offer airport pickup.
2.) They gave me an envelope so I could drop it in a mailbox at the airport.
3.) I never had to worry about finding & connecting to a public hotspot. It was always with me.
4.) Because I have an iPhone, I could Facetime with my son pretty much everywhere. (Bonus: I Facetimed him from the top of the Eiffel Tower, which he thought was pretty cool.)
5.) It’s relatively small, so it’s easily portable.
1.) If you’re traveling solo, it might be a little on the pricier side.
2.) While I found it perfectly portable, it’s not something you can just jam into your pocket.
3.) The battery life was pretty good, but I had to carry a battery backup for it.
4.) The more devices you connect, the slower it gets and the faster the battery runs down.
5.) If you’re traveling with the intent of “disconnecting” this will do the opposite of that.
Note: If you’re an avid traveler, you can purchase your own hotspot and then pay for the data as you go. Skyroam seems to have good reviews (I purchased the hotspot but haven’t used it yet.) Keep your eyes peeled, because they frequently do a percentage off the purchase of the hotspot and throw in a few days of coverage for free.
I hope that if you’ve stumbled across this post, it’s because you’re an over-planner and I’ve put your fears to rest. Please use your wifi for good – like for Instagramming pictures of old doors or Snapchatting your cat. Enjoy yourself, and happy travels!