Internet Access While Traveling – Cellular Service and Public Hotspots
Have you ever lost cell reception while traveling? Internet dead spots aren’t uncommon and usually turn up right when you need internet the most. A lack of internet access while traveling can quickly become a problem if you’re by yourself or in an unfamiliar location.
Running out of data can be just as problematic. So, we’re going to give you a few tips to make sure you don’t end up in the middle of nowhere with no reception. Keep reading to find out how you can get internet access while traveling.
Check Your Service Provider
We’re writing from a European perspective, so some of this information might not apply if you’re not an EU national. Nonetheless, we recommend that every traveler check in with their personal service provider to learn how they handle travel abroad before departing on a trip.
If you are working with a European SIM card, there are plenty of companies across Europe that won’t charge for internet roaming within other European countries. This means you can keep surfing the internet with your normal SIM card without paying high fees. However, traveling within Europe for more than four months at a time will usually incur additional fees.
For overseas travel, things are a little different. Internet use can quickly become expensive if you don’t have a suitable contract. Internet use outside Europe is not provided by most EU service providers. Depending on how long your trip is, consider adding a new plan to your cell contract. These offers cost extra but can help you access the internet in several countries.
It’s not always easy to find a suitable contract with your provider – they can get expensive and may not suit your travel style. Therefore, we recommend either buying a SIM card from local providers or using only Wi-Fi during your trip. The latter is especially useful if you are spending a long time in a foreign country.
Buy New SIM Cards for Travel
If you’re planning to stay in a country for a long period of time – such as a year or more – it makes sense to get a local SIM card. You can buy these from local suppliers after your arrival. In some cases, you can order a SIM card from home and have it sent to you in advance.
Once you have inserted the SIM card into your mobile phone and activated it, you can surf the internet, make phone calls, and send text messages like you do at home.
One advantage of having a prepaid card is that you get access to the fastest local network at a low price. In addition, you aren’t bound to a contract, so don’t worry about additional fees. Make sure to take the time to research which prepaid card is the best and most cost-effective for your chosen destination.
Keep in mind, you will end up with a new mobile phone number for every SIM card you purchase. If you’re traveling through different countries, it may be annoying to keep informing people of your current number. However, we think that the extra effort is worth it. It’s still less hassle than signing different contracts and having to meticulously keep track of how much cellular data you have left.
Save Cellular Data
Regardless of whether you have a prepaid card or a contract, you are unlikely to have infinite internet access while traveling. Therefore, it’s best to be cautious with your data usage to avoid extra costs.
The best way to do this is to switch your phone to airplane mode whenever you don’t need internet access. This will save your cellular data and your battery! Also, avoid watching long videos or downloading large files with cellular data. Try changing the settings of your messaging apps to makes sure pictures and videos are not downloaded automatically or are only downloaded when your phone is connected to Wi-Fi.
Social media apps in particular take up a lot of data volume. To avoid using them without Wi-Fi, you can change your phone settings to stop these apps from using cellular data. This also prevents them from using up data while they run in the background! Lastly, try to use free Wi-Fi and public hotspots whenever possible.
Discovering public hotspots when traveling is like discovering hidden treasure! These spots grant you internet access for free, and you won’t have to use your cellular data.
Nowadays, most cafés and restaurants have free Wi-Fi. There is also public Wi-Fi at most train stations or airports. In general, you will be able to save a lot of cellular data when traveling in big cities – there’s free Wi-Fi everywhere!
How to Find Wi-Fi Hotspots
To check if there is free Wi-Fi in your area, simply check the Wi-Fi settings on your cellphone. It will show you which nearby networks are available. If you use a major mobile operator, such as AT&T, you can use their mobile app to search for hotspots in your area.
There are also databases that you can use to find the nearest Wi-Fi while traveling. Additionally, a simple online search will show you free Wi-Fi hotspots in your area.
Get Your Own Router for Traveling
Consider getting your own portable router if you prefer to use your own network when traveling. This way you won’t need to depend on public internet connections. A travel router can be taken anywhere. Like your cellphone, a travel router receives cellular data and connects you to the internet.
However, good travel routers with fast internet are not cheap. Prices vary greatly depending on the router’s technical capabilities and quality. You can get cheap models starting at €50 or expensive ones that get up to €500. Decide for yourself whether your level of internet usage when traveling makes getting a router worthwhile. If you’re traveling for longer lengths of time and need to work on the road, a portable router is a sensible choice.
Take precautions if you know that you’re heading into an area where there’s bad cell reception. First, make any important calls in advance. Inform your emergency contacts that you won’t be able to receive or make calls for a while. Let them know exactly where you’re heading and when you’ll contact them again.
You can also download maps and navigation apps in advance to make sure they’re available to you while you’re offline. This way, you can navigate without getting lost once you’re no longer connected to the internet.
The internet can be a distraction to the joy of discovering new things while traveling. However, traveling without a phone or internet connection is not ideal when it comes to comfort or security. Having internet access while traveling can help a trip go much more smoothly and offers some level of safety.
There are plenty of opportunities to get internet access while traveling, especially in cities. This includes free Wi-Fi and public hotspots.
It’s also important to check with your service provider before traveling. It’s worth taking the time to read and research your mobile phone plan, as you might run into unexpected fees if you’re not careful.
With a little research, you’ll be protected against internet dead spots, costly service providers, and high data usage. The only thing left to do now is finish your preparations and embark on your travels!