For us, staying connected on the road is not a want, it’s an essential need. Strong wifi connection and cell phone coverage are non-negotiable requirements for our lives on the road. The world wide web is our only lifeline to the rest of the world. It’s how we make money to continue to travel, it’s how we stay in touch with friends and family, and how we stay up to date on current affairs, news, and events.
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But staying connected on the road is not always easy. Over the years, we have battled our way through many connectivity issues, but, eventually, have found 4 essential ways to stay connected while traveling.
1. Use Booking.com to Find Accommodation with Good Wifi
We prefer to work early in the morning and late at night and spend the majority of the daylight hours exploring the destination we are in. So wifi is an essential feature in our choice of accommodation on the road. Unless we are traveling to a remote destination where internet connection is simply not available, we always opt for hotels with free wifi to save on the costs of getting online.
We use booking.com to search for accommodation options that offer Free Wifi, using the “Filter by” options available in the search parameters. Hotels usually provide a description of their facilities at the bottom of the listing, giving us more info about what type of wifi we can expect at each property. Some hotels offer free wifi in common areas only, while others provide it all throughout the property.
We always choose hotels with wifi throughout the property to maximize the chances of having wifi in our room.
2. Use a Wifi Range Extender
Even despite our best research and attempts to book hotels with wifi throughout the property, we often run into issues upon arrival. Unless we are staying in high end hotels (which we almost never do), we find that Wifi routers rarely reach into every single corner of the building. So while wifi may be available in rooms close to the lobby, being placed in a room farther away often means low signal and terrible wifi.
To battle this, we now travel with a Wifi Range Extender. The extender allows us to boost wireless signal to previously unreachable areas in hotels. If we find ourselves in a hotel with bad wifi signal that does not reach our room, or a hotel that only offers wifi in the lobby, we’ll plug in the extender closer to the wifi router, extending wifi range to our room. The extender is really easy to set up and cost us only $20.
3. Local Sim Card
For internet connection on the go, we use local sim cards. We travel with unlocked phones, which makes it very easy to tap into the mobile data packages available to locals. However, data plans vary dramatically around the world.
Some countries (like Croatia for example), offer incredible packages with unlimited 4G data for just $7/week, while others limit data to just 1GB of data for $30/month. We always do research on the subject before arriving in a new country to figure out whether a local Sim Card will serve as an on the go solution or if we can use our mobile connection as a hotspot for our laptops as well as our phones.
4. Skyroam HotSpot
When all else fails, we rely on Skyroam. Skyroam is a wifi hotspot that connects to available Cellular Networks in over 100+ countries worldwide to provide unlimited data for just $8/day. We’ve been using Skyroam for over 4 months now and have come to love having it as our connectivity back up.
While the unlimited data part does come with an asterisk (you get 350MB of data at 3G/4G speed after which the speeds drops down to 2G), you can continue to use it all day for email and basic browsing.
The Skyroam is constantly searching for signals from cell towers, so the WiFi service doesn’t work optimally on cars, trains, other fast-moving forms of transportation, but we have discovered that Skyroam is a great option for staying connected in areas of good cell phone coverage when:
- Data usage through a local SIM card is expensive
- In transit, as the same daily pass can be used in multiple countries
- When we need a reliable connection, as local wifi connection sometimes goes in and out, making it unusable to calls and video uploads
You can purchase your own Skyroam Hotspot starter pack for just $99. The starter pack includes the Hotspot device plus 3 free day passes to get you started. You can top up your account using the 5-day Pre-Paid Card available online.