Why I travel with my own Tep Wireless Hotspot
I travel so much nowadays, that having a Tep Wireless Hotspot is a requirement to keep my business going.
Long gone are the days when I didn’t have to worry about internet while I traveled. I feel a bit of nostalgia for the times when I didn’t even have to set an out of office reply, and when social media were nothing more than a past-time. Back then, I saw Facebook as a way to stay connected with friends and family while I was away, and a tool to upload photos of my trips for everyone to see.
In those times, I used internet the way other travelers do: to book accommodation, research about activities, finding bus routes and timetables. And when internet wasn’t available, I relied on the phone or on asking for information at tourist offices or local travel agencies.
That’s the way I experienced Cuba. I didn’t even checked my email once in the 22 days I spent there! I just carried my camera and my phone, but I never even turned that on and I took it back still fully charged. And whenever I needed to make a reservation, the owner of the casa particular where I was staying would offer to make a phone call for me. It was that easy!
Times have changed
The way I travel has changed a lot since I have opened this blog. While I will always prefer spontaneous trips, where I let myself be carried away by the circumstances, nowadays a lot of planning goes into my travels. But it is not just that…
I know I can still rely on local agencies for information and on the phone for reservations, but having reliable internet access when I am on the road is now more important than it used to be, because I need to be able to post on my blog (and I need a reliable connection to upload photos); to reply to the many emails I receive every day; and to regularly update my social media to keep my followers engaged and my sponsors happy.
The curse of bad (or no) internet
However, internet access isn’t always a given. Even in European Union countries where one would expect to have free and good wifi pretty much anywhere, it works really poorly at times. Forget about wifi in some airports – it was impossible to get online in Bruxelles, which isn’t exactly a tiny airport in a developing country. And some hotels don’t invest in more than one or two hotspots, so the signal at times hardly reaches the room and if there are too many guests online, internet becomes so slow that getting work done is difficult and frustrating.
I occasionally buy a local SIM card, which makes accessing internet a whole lot easier. Except that getting a SIM for short trips seems a bit of a waste, and that in some countries it isn’t easy at all. I had to go through a real ordeal to get a local SIM in Madhya Pradesh, India – which involved finding a shop that actually sold SIM cards (I kept being sent from one to the other); getting a local to guarantee for me for security reasons; presenting a copy of my passport; and a whole lot of other explaining as to what I needed it for.
Why I travel with my Tep Wireless Hotspot
That is why I am so thankful for my Tep Wireless Hotspot.
Several names are used to talk about a mobile wifi internet device: pocket wifi, MiFi, mobile hotspot… They all pretty much refer to the same thing, and I have known them for a few years now. They are useful as they let users connect their phone, computer and tablet to a local cell network for internet access, and thus to have their own personal wifi wherever there is cell service.
The typical limitation though is that they are generally linked to a phone company in a specific country, so they may be working in Belgium but not in Luxembourg or France.
Tep Wireless, however, doesn’t have this limitation: it can connect to internet from 80 countries! I traveled to Luxembourg recently, but flew into Belgium and also crossed into Germany, and my Tep Wireless remained connected all the time! I even used it in Israel.
Depending on the country, Tep Wireless connects to a local 3G or 4G mobile network, creating a connection that can be shared with up to 5 devices. This means having internet on the go pretty much anywhere.
How does Tep Wireless work?
The Tep Wireless Hotspot can be either rented or bought. Those who prefer renting, will have the Hotspot shipped a few days before their departure and have to ship it back once the trip is over. I have my own and I carry it with me whenever I travel. As soon as I get to my final destination, I switch it on and connect my smartphone and my computer (as I said, I can connect up to 5 devices).
The average battery life of the Tep Wireless Hotspot is 8 hours, so I normally charge it overnight. This means I don’t have to worry about internet throughout the day. If I know I have a long day of exploration or travel ahead of me, I carry a power-bank along, so that I can charge it on the go.
The speed of the connection varies depending on local networks. I had a strong and fast connection in Brussels airport and throughout Luxembourg, even when I was in the middle of the forest during a hike or a bike ride. It was a bit slower when I was on the train from Brussels to Luxembourg City – the train kept crossing the countryside and tunnels.
Thanks to Tep Wireless, I was able to keep on top of my business throughout my trip, and not just that: I could access whatsapp to send a message to a friend so that she could come pick me up at the train station; I could access Google Maps so that I knew where I was going; I could log on to my social media to regularly post updates; I could call my family via Skype; I could work on the long train ride between Brussels and Luxembourg City. I even shared my wifi connection with a friend.
I could have used the MiFi that the tourism board had provided in Luxembourg, except it kept thinking I was in Germany and it would kick me out of the connection. I could have used the wifi at the hotel, except the signal didn’t reach my room. And the wifi at Brussels Airport simply didn’t work.
All in all, Tep Wireless is an excellent service for business travelers and internet addicts (I am both!). The only downside I can find is the price. It costs $9.95 per day to have unlimited data. For those who, like me, always depend on internet access for their job, this is a reasonable price to pay when on the road.
I understand that for regular travelers it is a bit of an overkill. The good news though is that since it connects up to 5 devices, the cost can be easily split if traveling in a group, making it a lot more worth it!
Is internet connection important when you travel? Let me know in the comments below!