Affordable Internet Access on Vacation

July 10, 2013

International Internet AccessWhen I travel, I like to stay connected (unless I’m camping; then I want to be left alone). As a result, I make it a point to look for ways to access the Internet when I’m out of town. This is very important, since my entire livelihood depends on Internet access.

If you are traveling – even if you are traveling internationally – there are some ways to get affordable Internet access while you are on vacation:

Consider Where You Stay

I almost always stay somewhere with Internet access. Many hotels and hostels offer free Internet services to guests. Before you book a room, find out whether or not you will have Internet access. Even if you can’t get the access for free, it’s still possible to get affordable access in many cases. Some hotels charge a per-day fee for access, usually between $5 and $10. If you will be using the Internet a lot, it might be worth it to pay that fee. However, if you just need to check in every now and then, you can look for other ways to access the Internet, rather than paying the daily fee.

Internet Cafes and Public Hotspots

Many urban areas offer you access to Internet cafes and public hotspots. In many countries in Europe and in South America, you can pay an hourly fee to access the Internet. You either use computers provided, or you can get a wireless password and use your own laptop.

There are also public hotspots in many urban areas. Even my hometown has several coffee shops that offer free Wi-Fi access. Search ahead of time to find public hotspots that you can use to access the Internet for free (or for the cost of a cup of coffee).

Wi-Fi Services and USB Mobile Broadband

You can also take your Internet with you while you are on the go. Wi-Fi hotspot services like Boingo charge you a flat fee and you can connect anywhere there’s a hotspot. This can be more secure than using a public or free hotspot network. Costs start at about $9.95 per month, and can get higher if you are traveling internationally. Carefully consider this option before you sign up. If you travel frequently, or if you are going on a vacation that will last a week or more, it can be worth it to pay this monthly fee for access (cancel after your vacation). Just make sure there are adequate hotspots at your destination.

Another option is to get a mobile broadband plan. My grandfather uses this, since he travels all over during his retirement. You usually get a USB modem, and you can pay a monthly fee. However, you will see better results in urban areas. Find out about coverage and monthly costs before you agree. Sometimes it’s just easier to take the Internet with you.

Use Your Phone

If you have a phone with a data plan and Internet capabilities, that can be one way to access the Internet while you are on vacation. You can also purchase relatively inexpensive monthly data plans for tablet computers, if you want a bigger screen for typing/answering emails. If your phone has a browser, and you’re paying for data anyway, it can make sense to just use your phone. There are also apps that can turn your phone into a hotspot that allows you to access the Internet on other devices. Just make sure you understand any additional costs before you activate this option.

If you are traveling internationally, check with your provider to find out if there will be changes in your coverage, as well as any additional costs that come with international cell phone use.

Technology offers a lot of options for connectivity. In many cases, it’s possible to get inexpensive, or even free, Internet access when you travel. What’s your favorite way to get Internet when you travel?


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Miranda writes about personal finance almost every day. An experienced freelance writer, she's covered your money online and in print from every angle and is always looking for new ones.

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