I’m a self-confessed internet addict. My smart phone is always by my side and, like many of you I’m sure, wifi in my hotels is a must, in fact wifi on planes is the next must-have that’ll soon have all of us reaching for our wifi enabled device as soon as we’re in our seats.
But for the meantime staying connected while we travel is an important part of our trip. We all want to share our experiences almost instantaneously and it’s the easiest tool for connecting with new friends you’ve made while backpacking too. As everyone and their dog has an internet ready device or three these days you’ll always find some sort of connection while you’re away so there are lots of options. But which one is right for you? Lets look at a few that you might want to consider on your next trip.
Lets start with the most accessible option for everyone with any wifi enabled device. If you’re not familiar with mobile broadband, it usually comes in the form of a USB stick that you plug-in to the side of your laptop. It’s essentially a mobile phone without the screen or buttons, giving internet access to your computer. You can get these in the country you’re visiting or you can get an unlocked mobile broadband USB dongle and simply purchase a local SIM card when you arrive. Costs and connections speeds vary around the world of course and you’re likely to get the best coverage in major cities. You can also get 4G connectivity these days, iiNet offer mobile broadband in Australia with 4G in metro areas for just $29.95 AUD for 5GB of data.
Mobile broadband isn’t just for your laptop either. Another great option is mobile wifi router which cost around $60USD. Just pop the local SIM in the device and it’ll create a wifi network you can connect all of your devices too including your smartphones, laptops and tablets. Very handy if you have multiple devices you want to get online.
If you’re visiting any major city in the world you’re bound to discover a network of wifi hotspots available to you.The United Kingdom has “BT Openzone” or “BT Wifi” along with a few other options like the “O2 Cloud”. Paris is a well-connected city too with free wifi in most of the parks, gardens and libraries too. You’ll also find free wifi in the many coffee shops and cafes, most of which you don’t need to register for access.
Outside of the major cities your access to wifi may become a little less frequent. While free wifi is available in most restaurants and bars this really is dependent on the culture of the country you’re in. Free Wifi is everywhere in England, for example, you’ll find it in almost all hotels in Cambodia too. But there are countries where it’s not always free. Thailand, Australia and New Zealand are all countries where the culture often is that wifi is a service you pay for. So if you’re heading to a coffee shop or bar in these countries don’t be surprised if you have to purchase wifi access.
The next big leap in our internet obsessed lives is the ability to get online while on the move. There’s a growing number of trains in the UK with free wifi on board. Especially routes out of London. You’ll also find free wifi on a number of the local commuter buses in Penang, Malaysia. And of course those long haul flights have flirted with wifi in the past and thankfully it looks like something we’ll see a lot more of in the coming years. At the moment this service is still prohibitively expensive unless you’re a frequent business passenger but as more of us demand internet access this could become a key selling point on your next long haul flight. Airlines that currently offer in-flight wifi include Air Canada, Delta, Singapore Airlines, Etihad, Emirates and Virgin America.