So you want to work remotely while traveling, but there’s one gaping issue:
Finding reliable Internet.
Your biggest fear is having a conference call in 30 minutes or an impending deadline, but you’re in an area with spotty cellphone service. Trust me, this was a huge concern of mine when I started freelancing on the road, but I’m living proof that working remotely on the road is a real possibility. You just have to do the preparation and research beforehand.
Luckily, I’ve done that for you. In this blog post, I lay out the main ways that remote workers get Internet on the road. Let’s get started!
How To Get Internet On The Road
Before looking at any of these options, it’s important to consider your Internet needs. Some may only need to check emails and post on social media; others might need to make daily Zoom calls and upload large files to YouTube. The greater your Internet usage, the more you’ll need to invest upfront.
Another key consideration is your travel plans. Will you be on the road every other day, or staying in one place for long periods of time? Are you traveling to urban areas or off-the-grid destinations? This plays a huge role in your access to reliable Internet, and in turn, affects what tools you need to get.
To help you get Internet on the road, I’ve broken down the free Wifi options and the paid WiFi options. The tools and plans are roughly ranked in order of how much Internet you use, so make sure you read to the end of the post to see all the options.
Free WiFi Options
The most obvious way to get Internet on the road is using the WiFi at a public place such as a cafe, campsite, or restaurant. I can’t guarantee the speed of free WiFi, but they’re worth a shot.
Some popular restaurants with free WiFi are:
- Panera Bread
- Dunkin’ Donuts
- Buffalo Wild Wings
- Whole Foods
Other free WiFi options are:
- Most local cafes (check the reviews to see how fast the Internet is)
- Public libraries
- Trains and buses
- Some campsites (check the reviews)
- Public parks
If you’re regularly using unsecured public WiFi, I would recommend getting an extension to protect your computer from potential hackers. I use Surfshark and love it!
Paid WiFi Options
Mobile Hotspot With Unlimited Data Plan
The primary way I get Internet on the road is with a Verizon unlimited data plan. As long as I have strong cellphone service, I can turn on my mobile hotspot and connect it to my laptop just like I would do a local WiFi network.
Something to note with unlimited data plans is that most aren’t actually unlimited. Read the fine print, and you’ll usually see that there is a cap on the number of gigabytes you can use in a month. After you use it all up, your Internet speed will decrease dramatically.
- The Verizon Plan Unlimited gets you 4G LTE / 5G Nationwide coverage, HD video streaming, and a mobile hotspot. This is the primary way I work on my laptop while traveling – I use my phone as a hotspot. However, this plan is NOT actually unlimited. If you use the full 15 GB of hotspot data in a month, your browsing speed will decrease dramatically until the next billing cycle.
- AT&T’s Unlimited Elite plan has 30GB of hotspot data and 100GB of premium data for $85/month. Similar to Verizon’s plan, once you hit the 30 gigs, your browsing speed drastically decreases.
I have the Verizon Plan Unlimited and have yet to blow through all 15 gigabytes in a month, but it is possible if you’re doing something that sucks up data such as streaming and/or uploading videos. If you need to do something that requires a ton of data, I would recommend going somewhere and using public WiFi.
My recommendation: Verizon Jetpack
I’ve been using this hotspot for years and absolutely love it. If you don’t have an unlimited phone plan, this is a great alternative. It works essentially the same as a mobile hotspot – you have to be in an area with reliable cell service to use it, and it has a cap for how many gigs you can use in a month.
- 24-hour battery life and quick charge-up
- Up to 15 devices can connect to it at one time
- Can access WiFi internationally (up to 200 countries)
- High-speed Internet until you use up all your monthly gigabytes (varies by plan)
After you buy the device (around $200), you can choose to pay for a pre-paid plan or a monthly plan based on how many gigs you need. After you use up all your gigs for that month, your Internet speed reduces dramatically until the next pay period unless you choose to add on more gigs.
Some people actually buy multiple hotspots from different providers to get more coverage. Here are a few other options if you’re interested:
- The Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot is the best AT&T option.
- The Franklin T9 Mobile Hotspot is the best T-Mobile option.
WeBoost Signal Booster
If you’re planning to be in remote areas a lot, I highly recommend investing in a WeBoost. This tool amplifies the signal from the closest cellphone tower, boosting your Internet connectivity in an area with weak cellphone signal. It’s a godsend for anyone boondocking or traveling to places off the grid!
The installation process is fairly simple – put the booster underneath the car, place the antenna on the roof, and connect the power cord to a power outlet inside the vehicle. Note that this device only works with power, so the car has to be running!
If you’re in an RV, there are actually WeBoosts specifically designed for RVs! Check them out here.
Another option for getting high-speed Internet in a professional setting is by joining a coworking space. These flexible office spaces allow you to rent a desk or room for the day and knock out whatever work you need to do. Most coworking spaces have different monthly membership plans you can choose based on your needs and budget.
If you’re traveling consistently, I’d recommend using a space with multiple locations in the country or region you’re in. Some popular ones in the U.S. are WeWork, Regus, and The Yard. Check out this list for more options in different areas.
If you’re traveling to different countries, definitely seek out local coworking spaces in the area. Places like Mexico, Thailand, and Indonesia are known for their gorgeous local work spots filled with digital nomads from around the world.
At the end of the day, the way to get Internet on the road comes down to preparation and planning. Make sure you know when you need to be online and available, and put yourself in an area where you know the cell service is reliable. You can have all the tools in the world, but if you wait until the last minute to check your email or complete a deadline, they will not help.