Besides locating a good cup coffee on the road finding internet access is essential during my travels.
I'm always grateful when hotels provide free wi-fi but with so many new warnings about hackers using the free connection to target guests (Here is one from CNN), I'm looking for a better way to get online.
My rule of thumb or traveling aboard with your mobile phone: Turn your phone to airplane mode and leave it there!
You can still turn on Wi-Fi and this will guarantee no costly international roaming or data charges on your phone bill when you get home.
Two years ago in South East Asia I went through the hassle of getting an unlocked iPhone so I could simply buy a cheap Sim card for whatever country I found myself in.
Sure the sim cards were cheap in this area of the world BUT keep in mind:
- The iPhone 4, 4s and iPad use a Micro Sim card which is much harder to find (at least when I was there) and the new iPhone 5 requires a Nano Sim, which is even smaller and harder to locate. The only cards I could find were much larger and needed to be cut down to fit. You have to very careful while cutting a Sim card, don't slice through the 'important parts' the copper area which are usually surrounded by simple 'form fitting' plastic.
- If you successfully trimmed your Sim (almost sounds dirty) and got your phone turned on, it now needs to be 'set up' and to do that you need someone who speaks the local language.
- You will also have to make sure all the setting are correct for that Sim and country.
So as you can see this can be a real hassle plus even if you are successful getting it to work, you only have service on your phone. This can be a bummer if you need to access the internet on your tablet or computer.
I finally found a better way to stay connected by using Xcom Global's Mi-Fi. What I like about the Mi-Fi solution:
- Connect up to FIVE devices at the same time, yep 5! Now you can use it on your phone, tablet, laptop and even share with friends.
- 3G mobile Internet, fast enough for all your needs including VOIP calls.
- A Flat Rate, no surprise charges or big bills. The plans start at $14.95 a day.
- No searching for unfamiliar Sim cards, no cutting necessary and no need to set anything up. As soon as you arrive, turn it on and you're ready to get connected.
- It's small, easy to carry and comes with two batteries.
- Shipped to you with a return envelop so when you get home from your trip, place it in the prepaid envelope and send it back.
- Works in 175 countries.
I brought the Xcom Mi-Fi with me on my recent trips to Fiji and Scotland.
In Fiji service was very limited but that was more due to being on an island.
In Scotland it worked pretty good, sometimes I'd have to wait awhile for it to connect but when it did, it worked great.
I sure was happy to have it every time I got lost! Which was a lot :)
Xcom Global provided me with free service and Mi-Fi rental on the above mentioned trips but as always, all views and opinions are my own.