When traveling, it’s not uncommon for travelers to search out the closest Starbucks in search of free Wi-Fi. While a nice perk for coffee lovers, it’s not always convenient or a viable option. Instead of relying on Internet cafes and free hotspots, many users take their own mobile hotspots with them wherever they go. Planning a trip and want to be sure you can connect wherever you may be? It may make sense to bring your own hotspot along for the ride. Below are a few options.
Use Your Smartphone
Did you know that many smartphones can also serve as mobile hotspots? By connecting your laptop to your hotspot-enabled smartphone, you can take advantage of your cell phone’s connection and data plan. However, this can quickly drain your battery, so this option should be used sparingly. If you simply need to check email, use your smartphone directly.
Use Your 4G iPad
Do you have the 4G Verizon Wireless version of the Apple iPad? If so, the iPad can serve as a mobile hotspot, allowing other devices such as a laptop to share its Internet connection.
Buy a Mobile Hotspot Device
Don’t have a smartphone or iPad capable of serving as a mobile hotspot? Another option is to buy a mobile hotspot device. These small devices require a data plan with a wireless carrier. Once set up, the devices connect to the wireless carrier’s 3G or 4G network and become mobile hotspots that you can use to access the Internet. Most allow you to connect up to five devices. For example, you and your friends can connect laptops, netbooks, game consoles, eBook readers, and other devices to the hotspot.
Another option is to buy a USB wireless modem for your laptop. These devices, like mobile hotspot devices, require a data plan with a wireless carrier and allow you to access the Internet via the carrier’s wireless network. Simply insert the modem into an available USB drive and connect to the Internet wirelessly over a cellular network.
Mobile Hotspot Plans
Whether you use an existing device or purchase a mobile hotspot device or USB modem, you will need a wireless data plan. As with cell phone plans, you may be limited to a specific carrier. Wireless data plans typically bill by the gigabyte rather than by the minute, making it difficult to determine exactly how much data you will consume. Before choosing a plan, consider how you will use it. Do you plan on using it primarily to check email and browse the Web periodically or will you use it to watch movies on Netflix?
Another consideration is how often you need a mobile hotspot. If you travel frequently or want to access the Internet while commuting on a train, you may want a traditional plan whereas if you intend to use it once or twice a year, you may be better off with a prepaid or pay-as-you-go plan.
Take charge of your mobile computing needs by bringing along your own mobile hotspot and save yourself the hassles of finding a secure Wi-Fi hotspot when traveling.
Sam Jones, the author, has an android tablet and has been looking into ways to create wireless hotspots with other gadgets and gizmos.