When I traveled to Ames, Iowa last month, I was concerned about not having wi-fi access (first-world problem, I know). My daughter and I were staying in on-campus housing at Iowa State University for the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals and we could only get online by way of a wire connection (I actually had to go out and buy an Ethernet cable).
A few days before we traveled to Iowa, I saw this post on The Vacation Gals about mobile wi-fi and I knew I had to investigate. The folks at Tep Wireless shipped the device to Iowa State, and fortunately, the pocket wi-fi was easy to use and didn’t require much to get set up.
You literally just turn on the pocket wi-fi, enter the provided wi-fi password and you’re all set. I had access to wi-fi in our university apartment, on-the-go on campus buses and at various locations around Iowa State. I was pleased to be able to get online so easily.
The pocket wi-fi costs $7 per day for use in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia and various countries in Europe and Asia. Given wi-fi starts at $9.95 per day at many hotels, I thought $7 per day was reasonable. Even better, the flexibility to browse the web or upload photos from wherever you are and not have to hunt down a coffee shop with free wi-fi is helpful. However, there are a few things to know:
1. Wi-fi will (probably) not be as good as what you have at home. Just keep that in mind when using the pocket wi-fi device. You may even get better service from a Starbucks. However, it really is nice to have wi-fi access whenever, wherever, particularly if you like to Instagram your way around new cities or use mapping apps when you drive or walk from place to place.
2. For $7 per day, you get 150 MB of mobile data. To put this in perspective, one hi-res photo upload or download can use 1 MB, while one web page can use 150 KB to 1.5 MB. According to Tep Wireless, the average laptop user uses 200 MB, while the average smartphone user uses 50 MB of data per day. All data bundles roll over to the next day and you’ll receive an email if you hit your data limit (or you can check your usage from the device).
3. Power users should consider the unlimited mobile data plan. For $12.95 per day, power users of laptops, tablets and smartphones can get all the wi-fi they need. If you think you’ll be out and about a lot and don’t want the inconvenience of tracking down free wi-fi around town, this is a good option.
4. Mobile wi-fi is best for land-only use. If you’re thinking about using mobile wi-fi on a cruise, check with your travel agent or cruise line. You’ll want to see what kind of mobile data coverage is available on the ship. If coverage is limited or non-existent, you won’t be able to get online with the pocket wi-fi device.
It’s easy to get a pocket wi-fi device from Tep Wireless. Simply put in a request and it will be shipped directly to you or to your destination. You can then request a prepaid return label in order to get the device back to Tep Wireless when you are finished.
As a quick side note, when you place your order, you can also get a car charger for $4.95 and pocket wi-fi insurance for $9.95. As a bonus, when you sign up on their website, you receive 10% off your first rental (this may be a limited-time offer, so I’d hop on this just in case).
Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary pocket wi-fi unit from Tep Wireless for the purposes of this review. However, all opinions expressed here are my own.