WIFI while travelling

WiFi When Travelling : Staying Connected to the Internet While Travelling

Having access to WiFi is game changing while you travel. You can use it to navigate, communicate, and plan your travels. However, getting connected to the internet in a secure and budget-friendly manner while travelling can be very confusing.

The first question you should ask yourself is what do you need the internet for. Do you just need the internet on your phone or are you a Digital Nomad or Backpacker Volunteer who needs the internet on other devices to do work while you travel. Let's break down the different options.

Getting WiFi On Your Phone While Travelling

1. Mobile Service Providers

Before you leave on your trip, check with your home mobile carrier about international data plans. There are several major carriers that have agreements with foreign telecom companies, allowing you to simply use your data while abroad.

For example, if you are American, T-Mobile generally allows their customers to utilize their data abroad for free. For Europeans, many European phone plans will work in other European countries.

Some telecom companies permit you to connect to their international roaming partners for a fee. However, this can be very expensive. For example, Verizon Wireless charges $10 USD/day to have this access. For Travel Backpackers who often travel for long periods of time, this is simply not an affordable long term solution. 

2. Local SIM Cards (most economical)

Getting a local sim card at your destination is the most cost-effective option to get internet on your phone. Buy a local SIM card at your destination (but not at the airport) to get a lot of data for cheap. Before you arrive, research local regulations regarding SIM card purchases to foreigners. Some countries may have restrictions or need certain documentation in order to buy a local sim card.

If you are swapping out your home SIM card for a new one at your destination, store your home SIM card in a secure place. It is such a common problem to find Travel Backpackers misplace their home SIM card because of their small size. Because of this, we recommend getting a Travel Document Holder Pouch, a RFID Blocking Passport Organiser (with built in SIM card storage), or a Cable Organiser Pouch to store your physical SIM cards. 

3. eSIM Cards

An eSIM (also known as roaming SIMs or travel SIMs), work on multiple networks, so you don’t need to switch SIM cards like a local SIM card. They tend to be more expensive than local SIM cards because of the convenience of simply downloading the eSIM off a mobile app when needed and topping off your data when you run low. Airalo is a fantastic company to download eSIM cards.

Getting WiFi On Your Laptop While Travelling

If you are a Digital Nomad or a Backpacker Volunteer, you'll need secure WiFi access on more devices than your phone while travelling abroad. There are several options to get WiFi on your laptop as well.  

1. USB Dongles (most economical)

The most economical way to get secure internet on your computer is by USB dongle. A Portable WiFi Hotspot USB Dongle that works as a modem, a hotspot, and an internet extender are great for Travel Backpackers. They are a safe option for connecting laptops to the internet and require a compatible local SIM card. If you use USB Dongles, we recommend getting a Travel Document Holder Pouch, a RFID Blocking Passport Organiser (with built in SIM card storage), or a Cable Organiser Pouch to store your physical SIM cards. 

2. Mobile Hotspots

Mobile hotspots are standalone devices that create local internet connections. They are perfect for connecting multiple devices at once. You can either rent or buy these devices through your home telecom provider. However, they are often expensive and work only within a certain range.

3. Reliable Accommodations

Another option is to find reliable accommodations that offer secure and highspeed WiFi. Most Coliving Spaces that serve Digital Nomads make sure their internet servers are secure for their guests. If you stay at accommodations that cater to travellers that are remote working, you probably don't need to stress. 

Additional Tips for Safe Internet Use While Travelling

1. Avoid Public WiFi Networks

Public WiFi can be risky as they are often poorly secured. Avoid using them to protect your data from being monitored or hacked.

2. Use A VPN

If you must use public WiFi, ensure you have a reliable VPN. A VPN, or virtual private network, is a service that creates a secure connection between your device and the internet. VPNs encrypt your data and hide your IP address, which can help protect your privacy and identity online. This makes it harder for third parties to track your online activity and steal your data.

3. Download Maps and Documents

Download offline maps and important documents before your trip. This ensures you have access even if you lose your connection. There are fantastic apps such as Maps.Me where you can download a map and points of interests that onto your phone that don't need internet access to navigate.

 

WRITTEN BY

MARK CIPOLLINA

I’m Mark, the Founder of Generation Nomad, Avid Travel Backpacker & Digital Nomad. I am passionate about helping others discover the world through my experiences. I solo backpacked for months at a time, lived abroad, and even speak two foreign languages. Besides collaborating on the best lightweight travel accessories for Travel Backpackers, I also love sharing my travel photography.
Favorite Trips: Spain, Egypt & Vietnam 
Favorite Cuisines: Italian, Peruvian & Japanese
Quote: “Be a circle and just roll with it” 
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