It always happens when you least expect it: in the middle of an email, halfway through watching your favorite music video, right before you beat that Candy Crush level. Bam! You’re out of data — and there’s nothing worse than running on empty while traveling and you’re far from your home port.
For the smartphone enthusiast, not having data means certain doom. If you know you’ll be traveling, how can you be certain you’ll always stay connected? Here are four ways to help you stay connected to the internet while traveling, even if you happen to run out of data.
1. Purchase a Local SIM Card
Curious as to what SIM stands for? It’s subscriber identity module. Weird, huh? Well, for the migratory smartphone user, those three letters can make a big difference in avoiding a dirty four-letter word: “roam.” One method of getting around those expensive roaming charges is to purchase a new SIM card for your smartphone. Heads up, though: Your smartphone must be unlocked to switch out the SIM card.
Once your phone is unlocked, simply buy a local SIM card plan from the area to which you are traveling. These plans are available with varying amounts of data and come in different sizes — standard, micro and nano. And, in this case, size does matter, so check to see what size your smartphone requires.
After you sub in the new SIM card, remember to scale back your settings a bit as to not burn through all your data right away.
2. Hotel Wi-Fi
If you’re a frequent flyer, then you are well-versed in the language of hotel Wi-Fi and are probably aware not all in-room connections are created equal. Nor is all of it free, so there are two very important questions to ask before booking that hotel reservation.
- Does my hotel room offer free Wi-Fi?
- Is the in-room Wi-Fi connection reliable?
If after speaking with a hotel representative you are still not convinced that your in-room Wi-Fi connection won’t let you down mid-Tweet or while you’re streaming Tiger King on Netflix, check out HotelWiFiTest.com, a resource that has tested thousands of hotel Wi-Fi connections around the globe. Get the scoop before you reserve and/or report your hotel’s Wi-Fi status while you’re there.
3. Mobile Internet Hotspot
A product like Skyroam is an ingenious little device that fits in the palm of your hand and provides you with a personal hotspot wherever you go. It’s wireless, provides reliable Wi-Fi, and works almost anywhere, so you don’t have to fool with different local carriers if you’re cruising through state or country borders.
The drawback is it’s pricey. Upfront, the device will run you about $125, and the data stream is $10 per day. But you can connect up to five different devices, along with unlimited data. If you’re a serious traveler, it might be worth the investment.
4. New Home Service
If you’re traveling just to get to your next new home, it is imperative to set up new service as soon as you hit the ground. Don’t dilly-dally and risk running up those roaming charges on your smartphone. However, finding local service providers can be a challenge in a new locale.
Luckily, resources like ISP-in-Area.com are at your fingertips to allow for an easy and painless transition from internet-less to ready to surf. These types of sites offer a directory of broadband internet service providers organized by the region in which you live and by service category, like DSL, fiber, cable, wireless and satellite internet, or the ISDN you’re looking for. Super simple. You’ll be back on YouTube before your pizza arrives.
If you’re on the move, don’t let running out of data hold you back. Whether you’re on the road for work, pleasure or on your way to your new abode, there’s no reason to get stuck without service. Hit up hotel Wi-Fi, upgrade to a personal hotspot, snatch up a local SIM card, or put down roots already and get yourself a service provider in your new area. That Candy Crush level is calling your name.