Many travelers are beginning to realize the importance of having an internet connection while on the road, whether that be for entertainment or to provide you with important information on your trip.
Being connected on the road allows you to stay on top of the weather conditions, traffic changes, most efficient routes and the available accommodation at your next destination.
If you are looking to travel across Australia, prioritize finding an internet connection because it will be immensely valuable.
Luckily for you, arranging an internet connections is not complicated, here are a few options for you while you are on the road.
Public Wi-Fi Hotspots
Public Wi-Fi hotspots are free and there are thousands of them around Australia.
You can find them in cafés, bars, restaurants, and shops where road travelers frequently stop by to rest, eat and shop.
McDonald’s Australia alone offers free Wi-Fi in more than 700 locations. Even establishments like hospitals, libraries, and museums can give you a good internet connection.
However, there are disadvantages in connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots. One is slow internet connection and limited bandwidth.
Another is the requirement to provide personal information like your mobile number and email address to gain access to the Wi-Fi.
Lastly, not all public internet sources are safe. That’s why it best to avoid online banking and shopping while using free Wi-Fi hotspots.
Personal Mobile Data
If you don’t like the risks associated with public Wifi or you want a better internet connection, opening your personal mobile data is a good option. Most phone plans in Australia have data allowance that lets you access the internet anywhere you go, even inside a moving vehicle.
By turning on your smartphone’s mobile data, you can also share the internet with nearby devices like your laptop.
This is called hotspotting and is a very popular way of accessing the web among caravanners and holidaymakers in Australia. Just a head’s up, hotspotting will drain two things: your monthly data allowance and your phone battery.
In terms of reliability, you’ll get decent speed as long as there is no obstruction that’ll dampen your phone signal.
If it’s important for you to stay connected for work, avoid traveling to remote areas because internet coverage is usually poor in these areas.
Another way of accessing the internet on the road is by installing portable routers in your vehicle or mobile home.
Basically, it works just the same as your mobile data. You subscribe to a postpaid or prepaid plan and access the internet using a sim card. But instead of inserting the sim to your personal mobile device, you’ll put it in a portable wireless router, which the internet company will provide.
A portable router is ideal for larger families on travel. It can host more devices and has a wider hotspot range. You can also access a bigger data plan to support everyone’s internet needs.
Just like with your phone’s mobile data, however, internet service will depend on your location since it’s sim-based. An external antenna may be required to get better internet coverage.
Mobile Broadband Dongles
Do you have to work while on the road? Then, you probably use a laptop to access the web. In which case, a mobile broadband dongle is your best option.
You can connect it directly to your computer, giving you a more reliable connection compared to Wifi.
Dongles also have a hotspot capability, allowing a small number of gadgets to connect to it. But the Wifi range is smaller, so your family will have to be closer to you for a better connection.
Mobile broadband dongles are available in prepaid plans only, which means you need to consume the data allotment in a fixed timeframe (the longest is usually a month). The leftover data will expire and will not be carried over to the next subscription.
There’s another way of getting internet access when you’re on the move and it has reliable coverage wherever you go in Australia: satellite Wi-Fi. It has two types — a full system and a handheld system.
A full satellite Wifi system requires you to attach a satellite dish to your caravan or motorhome. On the other hand, a handheld system only needs a portable device slightly larger than typical broadband routers.
Both systems are capable of fast internet connection and large download limits. Moreover, these satellite Wifi systems have global voice calling and text messaging services, perfect for traveling entrepreneurs.
The only downside to this internet option is the price. The systems alone are already very expensive, especially the full satellite system. You add the pricy data plan and you’ll realize that it’s quite a hefty investment to make.
How do you decide?
Finding an internet connection when you’re on the move should be easier now you know the available options. The only thing left is making a choice.
Base your decision on the amount of data your family needs. If you are not really into web surfing and just need an internet connection for traffic and weather news, then making stops on your trip for free Wi-Fi will do. Using your mobile data is also a good option.
If you require consistent data for web surfing, social media engagement, emailing, and GPS tracking, then either a broadband dongle or portable router is a good choice. Satellite Wifi systems are advisable for individuals with fairly large online businesses.
It is also a good idea to consider the places you are going. If you will spending a long time in remote areas and need a reliable internet connection, you should have a satellite Wifi in your RV.
Families traveling around cities and suburbs can do with portable routers and broadband dongles. But if you are on the way to a holiday park or hotel with free Wifi, mobile data should be enough for the short travel and backup purposes.
Whichever you choose, just remember that the internet connection’s purpose is to help with your travels. Your focus should still be enjoying the outdoors and new experiences with your family or friends because that’s what traveling is about.