I'm a freelancer and am fortunate enough to work for clients who are cool if I work from pretty much anywhere. There's only one hitch: I'm totally wifi dependent to get my work done. I've spent some time researching good and bad destinations for wifi recently and, while I'd love to take a trip to Seoul, it's still out of my price range for a while. Do you have any tips on places to go that aren't horribly far from my home base in Boston with reasonable access to wifi? Also, what are some tricks I should know to play it safe with wifi access when on the road? Sincerely, Wifi Worries
Dear Wifi Worries,
We get you. Working on the road sounds so great in theory—who doesn’t want to trade their office for a cool Copenhagen cafe? But between unreliable connections and frequent hotel fees, it ends up being a deal breaking hassle.
Seems like you know the easiest answer is to go where the wifi works well. In Europe, you’ll find it particularly easy to stay connected in England, Nordic cities and Belgium. Cafes frequently have open access wifi, or at the most you’ll have to ask for a password.
That being said, not all places in Europe are connectivity dreams. If you don’t have an Italian phone number, you can forget about getting on wifi in Italy outside of hotels that offer free connectivity packages. You might also encounter problems in France, and sometimes in Berlin. Even if you're somewhere in which good wifi can be found, you can still find yourself being led down the Yelp/Foursquare rabbit hole—just because a place is listed as having wifi, doesn't mean it actually works.
No matter where you go, if you're working, it helps to have insurance. The type of backup plan that works best for you really depends on your unique travel style.
If you plan on traveling frequently for business, consider investing a pocket wifi like Teppy. It works a lot like plugging your phone into your computer to activate a personal wifi hotspot. All you need to do is plug the device into your phone/laptop/tablet and go. You'll have a personal password that lets you connect up to five devices at once. For short trips you can rent a device for around $9 per day for internet access, or invest in your own personal hot spot for $100, plus $8 per day when on the road.
If you’d rather avoid the hassle of dealing with multiple devices, consider optimizing your phone plan back home for working on the road. AT&T will get you coverage in 190 plus countries, and you can choose from different data packs to suit your needs. Verizon operates a passport program, that allows you to use your monthly data allotment abroad for an additional fee (the price varies depending on where you’re going).
Depending on where you're going, sometimes the best option can just be to get a local SIM card. In the UK for example, you can pop into a Carphone Warehouse, or the service provider of your choosing, and select from a range of pay-as-you-go SIM cards. Just keep in mind that this only works if your phone is already unlocked.
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