You have great internet at home that meets your needs. There, you have a broadband connection, cable internet, DSL, or satellite. You have a router, and it works great. But when you go on vacation or want to access the internet outside your home, what are your options?
First, check in the area to see if there are Wi-Fi options. Coffee shops, libraries, internet cafes, recreation centers, and lots of other places offer free internet. You will likely need to get a password to sign into their system. There are limitations on privacy being on a public network, but the price of a cup of coffee (or less) may be worth it for a short time.
You can use your cellphone as a mobile hotspot. There is a password on your phone to access the internet service provided by your plan. As long as there is cell service for your provider in the area, you'll be covered! Some phone plans have limits on how much you can use this, so check your plan for such limits. If you have an unlimited plan, this may be an excellent option.
You can also use a Bluetooth connection to access the same internet connection through your own cell plan. Some modems have an antenna and SIM card built-in. Like a cellphone mobile hotspot, you can use it to access available internet service via Wi-Fi connections.
Depending on the area you are traveling to or what you need access for, purchasing a new SIM card for your cellphone may be a good option. You purchase a card specific to a country or region. This temporary SIM card will allow you access to the local cellular network. Just replace the SIM card in your phone with the temporary card and then use your cellphone as a mobile hotspot. Then, you can use that connection to set up Wi-Fi for your other devices.
Prepaid Internet Service
There are several options for prepaid, temporary internet service available (again, depending on where you'll be traveling). Based on where you need service and for how long, here are some things to ask yourself:
Does your current internet provider have options?
If you have service with a cellular phone provider, you may be able to purchase a mobile hotspot for when you're on the go. If you have cable internet, see if they have a hotspot that you can tie onto your plan temporarily. This may require a new contract, extra charges, or an additional new piece of equipment.
Suppose you are using a cellphone and are in an area that may involve roaming. In that case, your service provider may be able to provide you a reasonably-priced option to bypass the roaming or for areas where roaming is not available.
How long do you need service for?
Some companies allow you to pay for a connection by the minute. Others offer a prepaid card that works like a telephone calling card that you can load with minutes of use. Some restrict the number of hours you can access the internet per day or only allow you to be connected at certain times. And some services require you to buy a month of service at a time. There's even one that requires you to purchase home phone service. However, most of these services require no long-term contracts. As with all internet and phone services, there are many plans out there. You'll be sure to find one right for your needs.
How many devices are you connecting?
You'll find plans for just a single device and others that allow you to tether up to 8 devices at a time. Check to see if the service you're interested in requires a mobile hotspot or another piece of equipment. If you will be in a location with colleagues or several family members, you might want to look at plans that allow you to have multiple devices connected at the same time for cost savings.
Are you in North America or another global locale?
Some companies specialize in providing internet for global travelers. Depending on which country you are traveling to, there may be specific rules and regulations and special visitor access to the internet. Choosing a company that can answer questions about the particular area you're traveling to is an advantage.
Internet in North America is relatively straightforward, and there are many more options than when you travel overseas. A simple Google search will give you a myriad of options.
How fast do you need your connection to be?
Plan services range from dial-up, DSL, 3G, or 4G speeds. At least one dial-up plan includes a free web accelerator that can help speed up your download or upload speeds.
What equipment does the service require? Is it compatible with your computer, tablet, or phone?
Some services require a MiFi portable hotspot or a plug-n-play USB device that you purchase from the company. When purchasing temporary internet service, make sure you ask about special equipment and test it in advance. Depending on where you travel, there may be limited technical support, so you'll want to know before you go.
Ready to Go
With a little research and preparation, accessing the internet on the go is easy and economical. Whether you are traveling to grandma's house for the holidays or a remote island, there are probably options to keep you connected. As long as there is internet service available in an area, there is a way to access it.