Internet while traveling.
Having Internet connection is now a little luxury we are all used to have and sometimes give for granted.
Living small does teach you to appreciate the smallest things and does no exception with Internet connection.
Having access to the web is incredibly useful if you are planning to stay on the road for a while. It will allow you not only to keep in touch with family and friends (if that’s something you want) but also to gather info on your roads, parking spots, destinations, laundry mats locations etc.
Also, many van dwellers and travelers in general are able to sustain themselves through remote work (have you checked my blog post on How to: make money on the road?), for which having a connection is not a choice but a need.
So, wanna know how I do it?
In this post I’ll share with you the ways I’ve been able to get internet on the road while visiting different European countries, so…
1. FREE WIFI
I know I know, not telling you anything new.
Free Wifi is great for when you are in urban areas. The times I parked next to a shopping center or motorway station just to use their connection! Most food and café chain nowadays do offer Wifi, so you shouldn’t struggle finding it.
There are also apps that you can download on your phone that will locate the nearest free wifi and also give you passwords to secured wifi’s. Haven’t tried those myself but if you want to give them a go those seem to be the main ones Instabridge and Wifi Map .
Free wifi isn’t necessarily the safest, so I wouldn’t suggest you making any payments or sharing any sensible data through it!
Connecting through your phone is probably the most straightforward option for most of us. Nowadays you should be able to use most if not all smartphones as “hotspots” to connect your other devices to the web.
Depending on where you get your Sim card from, you should be able to access decent priced internet data plan. Of course most plans provide a few GB of internet data per month, but with most phone companies you should be able to add a bundle of GB to your data plan or even get unlimited data plans.
So far phone data has been the main way I fulfill my day to day “Internet needs” during my travels.
I have several Sim Cards that I can use depending on the country I’m staying in. The easiness of getting a telephone number does depend on the country you’re in.
My experience so far:
- England: couldn’t get easier, prepaid Sim cards can be bought at supermarket check outs without the need of showing any form of ID or address. For rolling contracts you will need to provide an address and visit a store. I was able to get a deal with 30GB a month at £20 with Three last year
- France: straightforward, tourist Sim cards are available on many phone company shops. I however found that the best deals are online, for which you’ll need a delivery address. Last time I had found a €2 deal from Free Mobile .
- Germany: similar as France, got my prepaid Sim card at a “Handy” store (yes that’s how they call mobile phones). Can’t remember the comapany I went for but I think I paid around €20 euros and 4GB of data. You can also buy a card at the grocery store and register it online.
- Italy: a REAL pain. With most phone companies in Italy offer just rolling contracts or rather crappy prepaid card deals. I remember going to most 4/5 different phone shops cause I couldn’t believe it was that extortionate. Most companies charge you for the Sim card, for the plan you want to activate (you can’t only have a sim card without a plan) AND a fee for the activation of the plan. Real madness. I think I spent around €50 for a very basic deal at Vodafone. At the shop will also require ID, address and CF (Codice Fiscale if you are Italian is similar to an UK National Insurance number). There seem to be a few decent deals online (here and the one I am currently using here). There are also tourist card deals, they really aren’t that convenient. I guess they’ll do the job if you can’t get a normal one.
Since June 2017 the Roaming Rules in Europe have changed and you can now use your data abroad for up to 2 months without incurring in any extra charges which is great.
I should however warn you that many companies will block your ability to use your phone as hotspot while abroad. This is a real bummer if you, like me, use mostly the Internet from your laptop.
3. FON WIFI
FON is a company that offers thousands of wifi spots around the world. Many big companies use the service to offer their own customer the ability to connect to the network.
To connect to the network you can either use their app and buy use one of their partner companies (you can choose from a list of different countries in their site to find the right company).
I used it when I was living in England as I did not want to buy a modem and I can say that I was satisfied with the quality of the connection and price.
If you are planning to travel around a lot, do check their map first as not all areas are serviced!
4. POCKET WIFI
If you are planning to cross many different borders in a small space of time and need reliable internet, pocket WI-FI is probably the best option for you.
TEP offers a pretty cool portable wifi hotspot that will allow you to have connection wherever you go. To get internet you just need to switch the Teppy , get the wifi name and password and input that into your device.
This thing is handy for when you don’t want to have the hassle of finding free wifis, or buying different sim cards depending on the country you’re visiting.
You can either rent one if you just needed for a short trip or buy one if you are planning to use it for a while. The device does require a little investment to buy and you’ll need to buy daily passes too (about $8 per pass). It’s probably not the cheapest option out there but it is one of the most convenient ones in terms of effort/time. The device technically works anywhere in the world, although I think you would need to contact them if you wanted to use it in a different continent than you initially used it for.
TEP did send me one of their portable hotpots* so that I could give my opinion, I have used it myself and I must say, it makes life pretty easy compared to other options!
5. SATELLITE WI-FI
Probably the coolest option out there and the most FREAKING EXPENSIVE!
Satellite wi-fi s really the only way for you to get wi-fi anywhere you go, whether you are in the top of Kilimangiaro or in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
So if you are planning to stay in rather remote areas with no phone coverage and really really need internet, than this a portable satellite wi-fi device is what you need.
Expect to spend at least £500 for one of those little things, plus connection costs.
Immarsat offers its Isat Hub Satellite Wi-Fi hotspot for rental too (£10 per day) but you still need to put a deposit of £750 so I guess this remains an option for only a handful of people (no I’m definitely not part of that group).
Did you make it till the end? Thank you.
So, here you are, those are just a few ways to keep connected while on the road.
Do let me know in the comments which is your favorite way to keep connected and why, would LOVE to know.
*This post was NOT sponsored, it however contains affiliate links. Affiliate links are a great way to support Pamthevan’s travels with ZERO extra costs to you 🙂