Internet is something we’ve come to rely on as travelers, and anyone able to venture off the beaten path with absolutely no connection is somewhat of a unicorn and deserves our reverence.
Yes, I’ll admit that I’m addicted. I like having constant online access while traveling; to be able to pull up Google Maps when I’m lost in Venice, to make bookings on the go, and stream Netflix on a long haul bus ride.
I want to post photos in the moment, call family and friends in my downtime, use Google translate to talk to locals, and have access to information like currency exchange rates, bus timetables, and world news.
It’s not easy to find WiFi when you’re traveling, and all the usual haunts for travelers; the airports, cafes, hotels; these networks aren’t safe (you’re very vulnerable to cyber attack when you connect via open networks).
So the prospect of traveling with a reliable device in my pocket, which offers constant 4G WiFi where-ever I go, is password protected, lightweight, has a long battery life, and isn’t expensive, well, that’s just made my day!
A portable WiFi device is exactly that. It goes by many different names; you might have heard it called a portable Wifi hotspot, mobile hotspot, portable WiFi, pocket WiFi, portable WiFi router….the list goes on. But regardless of what you call it, here are 6 solid reasons you need one!
Reasons You Should Travel with a Portable WiFi Device / Mobile Hotspot Overseas
Cost: It Saves You So Much Money
One of the biggest perks of using a portable, pocket WiFi device, is that it’s affordable, and actually saves you a tonne of money.
Top companies like Rent ‘n Connect rent out pocket WiFi devices for as little as 6 Euro a day, and for that you get an unlimited data plan, without speed limitations; that’s high speed 4 G Wifi.
The alternatives are buying local SIM cards in each country you visit and then using your phone as an internet hotspot, but this is costly if you’re traveling through multiple countries, phone plans impose limits on data, and not great for your phone’s battery.
The other option is going with hotel WiFi, but it’s very rare these days that hotels offer high speed WiFi for free. You can often be caught out having to pay up to $40 a day depending on how big the hotel wants their profit margin.
And then of course there’s mobile roaming, but we recommend you disable this as soon as you leave your home country. Relying on your phone data overseas is not an affordable option- just ask this family who got hit with a $30,000 phone bill after visiting Bali!!!!!
Traveling with a pocket wifi device has become a massive trend in the past few years, as travelers have realized their value, and as such, there are now many companies who have jumped into the market.
Being that there’s now a lot of competition, this makes the cost of a device even more affordable, and you can often find coupon codes and deals for even more savings (for instance, use “MEGAN15” and get 15% OFF devices with Rent ‘n Connect – they specifically have a deals page on their website with the latest coupon codes).
Fast Connection on All Devices
Having access to internet is one thing, but having access to working internet is another. Especially when traveling through developing countries, or even the Western World and Europe for that matter!
Using your own portable WiFi device for an internet connection means you’re guaranteed a fast connection (make sure you rent one that offers 4G speed), and it’s fast across all of your devices (you can typically connect up to 10 devices on one hot spot).
Many countries around the world offer 4G speeds, but even if you’re in a country which claims to have good internet, how fast your connection is will depend on many different factors.
Ie, if you’re relying on hotel WiFi, but everyone in the hotel is trying to use the internet at the same time (typically between 5 pm – 11 pm), the server is likely to overload, and you’ll have a snails pace of a connection.
It’s amazing how fast hotel WiFi is between midnight and 6 am (I’ve worked front desk at hotels in both Australia and America, and fielded the many, many complaints of poor internet at peak hours). The same goes for any high traffic internet area, like a cafe, airport, or cruise ship.
Another factor that may affect local WiFi connections is the weather; case in point; when it rains in Australia, those establishments who get their connection from copper underground cables completely lose their connection. It’s highly unreliable.
Having your own portable WiFi device means that you’re the only person using that network. As such, you can maintain fast speeds, regardless of if you’re in a hotel with 1,000 other people who are also connecting, and you’re not affected by local weather.
Having a portable WiFi device for travel means you’re always able to connect to the internet securely, and this is massively important; it’s probably even a bigger factor than cost and ease of connection!
Pocket WiFi devices are totally secure; the connection is exclusively yours, it’s password protected, and no-one else is able to see your internet activity or hack your devices to steal your data.
Most of the public networks we connect to while traveling (cafes, airports, hotels etc) are open networks, which aren’t safe, and allow anyone using them to access your information. They can see data like your usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers.
Sound far fetched? It’s not.
It’s become a trend for cyber criminals to set up public WiFi hotspots in high traffic areas, specifically to trick people into connecting, so they can then proceed to hack or infect your device with malware.
Normally, when you connect to the internet you first connect to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) which then connects you to your websites. All of your internet activity passes through your ISP servers and anyone using the same network (which could be thousands of people if you’re connected at a busy airport) can easily see your data.
Using a pocket WiFi device kills this risk, and it means you’re secure and safe across all your devices. It also means you won’t need a VPN, though there are many other perks of having a VPN beyond the cyber security.
Internet safety is a big one, but having a portable WiFi device can also be really handy for your personal / physical safety, because you’re able to stay connected at all times.
Being connected can be an absolute lifeline when you’re in trouble in a foreign country; being able to get online means you have access to information, and there’s nothing in this world that’s more powerful.
Information you could need in the moment of an emergency includes phone numbers for local authorities, the contact info / address of your local embassy, numbers for a taxi, bus timetables, flight status; you name it!
Having a connection means being able to pull up Google maps if you’re lost in a foreign city (it happens to the best of us!), make bookings on the go, access money, and call friends and family. You can also use language translation apps at any time, because these often require an internet connection.
You’re also able to live-stream events, and share / send photos and video of suspicious activity. And you’re able to do this quickly, subtly, and easily, because your connection moves with you in your pocket.
Ease and Convenience
If none of the above reasons have convinced you of the perks of traveling with portable WiFi, let it be the ease and convenience! Having your own connection that travels with you in your pocket is just totally hassle free.
You don’t have to spend time buying sim cards for every new country you visit (or worry about your phone being compatible), and you don’t have to spend time figuring out which of 50 networks belongs to the hotel you’re staying at.
A good pocket WiFi device will work across 100+ countries, which is practical because you don’t have to worry about changing anything over when you cross a border (notably, if you’re traveling across Europe, you’ll probably be crossing quite a few borders!)
And most companies offer really convenient pick up and delivery; some companies will mail the device out to you, and include postage for you to mail it back, others like Rent ‘n Connect will deliver it to your hotel or airport prior to your arrival, so you can pick it up as soon as you get in.
It’s a massive time saver, and one less thing to have to think about when you’re traveling. And you’re never cut off from the internet; you can log on from the hotel, airport, on a long distance bus, from the beach; it’s with you 24/7.
Actually using the device is easy, even for the most technically illiterate. There’s no skill required to operate a pocket WiFi device, they arrive ready to go, with very basic instructions, which often just involve an off and on button.
24 / 7 Customer Support
Another thing with you 24/7 is customer support, though this will depend on the company you choose; not all pocket wifi companies will offer a round the clock help service, so it’s good to go with a company who does, like Rent ‘n Connect.
While most travelers never have to use customer support, it’s good to know that it’s there if you do need it; not even hotels offer internet support a lot of the time, as they often outsource their connection.
Having customer support is a massive bonus, and being able to chat to someone who a) speaks your language, and (b) is actually paid to help you, makes any issues you do encounter a really pain free experience.
So, what are you waiting for? Portable WiFi devices are without a doubt, the best way to stay connected overseas. Don’t leave home without one!