In an ever connected world, almost everything is easier to do online. Booking flights, looking up accommodation, figuring our directions – it’s all quick and easy with the internet….. and not so much without. And in the age of email, facebook, blogs, and location independent businesses, having a reliable source of internet when you travel is becoming more and more important.
So if having access to reliable internet while you travel is important to you, then you need to look into mobile internet options.
Why you should have your own mobile internet
I don’t need mobile internet. Pretty much every hostel and hotel offers if for free anyways…. right?
Well that may be true, but that doesn’t mean it is going to be good quality. Or maybe your room will be too far away from the modem to get any connection at all. Believe me, I have tried to book hire cars and flights from hostel internet that was so bad it took up to 20 minutes to load each page….. talk about frustrating!
Of course, some hostels and hotels have GREAT free internet, but it’s not something you can count on.
Mobile internet options
Option 1: Use your smart phone as a hot spot
This is a great option if you are traveling locally or plan to buy a sim card and data in your destination. You can connect several different devices when using your phone as a hot spot, and even password protect the connection. Usually it will be a pretty good connection as well, depending on how good of a connection your phone is getting.
The down side? We use our phones for everything these days, which means the battery can really get used up quickly. Using your phone as a hot spot will drain your battery pretty quickly, and can be annoying if you are relying on your phone for other things as well.
Speaking of dead phone batteries… why not enter our contest for this self charging iPhone case? (We can only ship to Australian postal addresses)
Option 2: A mobile internet dongle
Mobile internet dongles plug into your computers USB slot and provide internet connection over a mobile network. For most devices you have to buy the device (which averages around $100, and then top it up with credit). I used one of these when I was traveling around Australia as I didn’t have a smart phone at the time.
Mobile internet dongles are great because no one can steal your connection and use up your valuable credit as it has to be plugged into your device to use. Also it is generally cheaper than the larger mobile internet devices. Another benefit is that you don’t have to charge it – it uses your computer as a power source.
The down side? They have to be plugged into a USB to work…. so forget about it if you want to connect with a tablet. Also, when the device is plugged in you use a valuable USB slot. Because the dongle I had was quite wide, it blocked access to my other USB ports as well meaning I couldn’t use other devices or transfer photos at the same time I was using the internet dongle.
Option 3: A mobile internet device
This is similar to the dongle except that it is a separate device which allows you to connect several devices at once. It won’t clog up your USB ports, and they generally have a little more power in them and can provide faster connections.
However they are more expensive to buy, and you still need to remember to charge the batteries. These devices are becoming more and more popular though as several businesses allow you to rent them and provide sim cards compatible with your travel destinations so you don’t need to go on a search for a new sim card in each country you visit.
I used one of these during my travels as well and you can read my in depth review here.