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Wi-Fi on the move

man in bed on laptop

Even though internet access is an omnipresent element of modern living, whilst traveling can be expensive and often, surprisingly limited.

Many hotels offer “free internet access” however, after you check in, you find the “free” internet is a tepid-spot rather than a “hotspot” in the bar by reception, or they are offering a limited amount, e.g. 30 mins per day and the rest is paid for – which is not ideal. If you actually want to have decent internet access, you find yourself shelling out exorbitant amounts of money for the duration of your stay.

It seems almost ironic that the less you pay for a room, the more likely you are to get free internet access in your room. For example,   B&B’s almost always have free Wi-Fi but if they are busy, connectivity can be very poor. Those who use serviced apartments are the outright winners here as they always provide decent internet as part of the deal, so if you are staying for over a week, and do not relish the idea of sitting in a restaurant on your own every night, they are definitely an options.

So how do you get the best Wi-Fi while travelling?

1: You might be better off using a public Wi-Fi hotspot than your hotel’s connectivity

Often you will find that you are much better off using a public Wi-Fi hotspot instead of using the hotel’s internet service. There are a wide variety of apps which can locate the best Wi-Fi hotspot both on IOS and Android.  Added to which, hotels are notorious for blocking various protocols and websites. For example, a lot of hotels block Netflix to try to get customers to order pay-per-view movies. Of course, hotels don’t just block websites and internet protocols in an effort to make money; their claim is that they have bandwidth preservation in mind!

2: Beware of data plan limitations when using your mobile phone as a hotspot

Most people are savvy enough to realise that modern smart phones come with a G3 or G4 Personal Hotspot. It is like a miniature wireless access point that allows your laptop and other devices to connect to your phone’s G3 Connection.  This may be great for emergencies, but beware – it’s easy to run up a large bill unless you have an unlimited data plan.

3: Hotels and Hotspots are not private – bring a backup.

If you need to work on sensitive documents while on the move, beware. There have been many, many occasions where people have tried to retrieve documents from their cloud storage, only to find that the hotel’s own protocols have created chaos. It is always better to bring a back-up on a memory stick.  Nobody wants to end up without access to a vital dataset or file because they chose to put their faith in the mighty cloud!!

4: Dongles and gadgets

Every business traveller remembers the dial-up dongle with a mild cringe, thankfully time has moved on. You cannot walk into a computer shop these days without tripping over promotional stands for personal internet on the move. With the arrival of some truly excellent 4G networks, wireless connectivity is faster than ever before. It is like your mobile phone hotspot on steroids. It’s so fast it may even outpace your home connection, however it does cost, so unless you can re-charge the cost it would be best to avoid watching too many grumpy cat videos while you are on the move.

man using phone

Which is the best? Well there is always the mantra of “you get what you pay for” and with IT kit that is often the experience too, however it does depend on how much you are likely to use it.  Amazon has a wide variety of portable hotspots, all of which have endless glowing reviews or otherwise, so just pick the one you like best at the price you are willing to pay as it is essentially down to aesthetics.

People will often say that advances in video conferences and the ability to transfer information digitally within nano-seconds will mean that the need for business travel will diminish. To date this is not the case, and until it is, I hope the above tips keep you connected on every level.

Happy surfing.