March 2, 2021
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
In a post-pandemic world, and with a year-plus taste of working remotely under our belts, more and more will look to travel without being relegated to the normal eight-to-five work schedule or the traditional office space.
Becoming a globetrotting employee is a very realistic goal since more and more global companies are allowing workforces to wander. Also known as a digital nomad, a traveling entrepreneur means having the freedom and ability to move around to explore different places while taking your office on-the-go and often set your own schedule.
Whether you have your office in an RV or moving from one Airbnb to another, having fast and reliable internet can be a crucial component to having a solid workday. If you are beginning your remote work journey, then knowing some tips and tricks about finding the right phone and mobile hotspot plan will save you a ton of time and will help you avoid a pesky headache.
Related: Why Domestic Travel Looks More Promising In a Post-Pandemic World
Chose the right service provider for a hotspot
This is such a large topic of discussion when it comes to having reliable Wi-Fi while camping and working on BLM land (because who doesn’t love bringing their office to the forest). It is also important for those who want to use their own private network rather than taking the chance of being watched on a less-secure public network.
Obviously, when choosing a service provider, one of the first considerations is the LTE coverage and if you will be frequenting an area with decent coverage. If you tend to move around quite a bit, you will likely choose a provider that has some of the best-known coverages for areas off-the-beaten-path.
Here’s where it gets tricky.
There are many plans that will limit your internet speeds by the process of bandwidth throttling, which is basically them intentionally slowing down your service depending on peak times and location. This is an extremely important factor when choosing the correct plan for your travels.
Take it from someone who knows. There is nothing more frustrating than being intentionally slowed down to unusable internet during the middle of a project.
For example, you might not think there is much difference between a Verizon prepaid plan or a post-paid plan but when you dig a bit and read between the fine lines, you will find that the prepaid plan will throttle your internet service on peak periods and congested areas. You could literally be in the heart of downtown in a city and have no internet due to congestion (even though there is adequate service).
Pick a large enough data limit for the 4G LTE hotspot
Another important consideration when choosing the right plan is how much data you plan on using for your work. If an average day consists of downloading and streaming videos (think long Zoom meetings) then you might want to consider a plan with over 40GB of data/month. Otherwise, most people that work remotely should be able to use less than 30GB of data in a month.
Yet another one of those “read between the fine lines”, if a phone plan claims to be unlimited, then that is almost never the case for the mobile hotspot usage. Even the priciest unlimited plan from Verizon caps their mobile hotspot usage at 30GB of data a month.
If your workload requires more data, you can consider a provider like Visible, which offers truly unlimited 4G mobile hotspot usage and uses Verizon 4G coverage. The only problem with that is it falls into the category of data throttling and can often fluctuate to extremely low speeds during congestion and peak times.
Related: 7 Innovative (But Simple) Ways Hotels Can Survive the Covid-19 Travel Crunch
You do not need a mobile hotspot device
For most digital nomads, a smartphone is truly all you need since it can act as a mobile hotspot and there are not many reported instances of a hotspot providing faster speeds. Otherwise, you can consider purchasing a second line and a dedicated mobile hotspot device, which will allow you to use the unlimited data features at the expense of owning another line.
Choosing a phone plan for international travel
There are multiple options for internet while traveling abroad but many of these can be expensive. You could find yourself paying over $300/month just for basic internet while traveling outside of your home country. If you are looking for internet while traveling internationally that is fast, reliable, and cheap, then consider purchasing an unlocked mobile hotspot device and using local SIM cards wherever you go. This has become the gold standard for digital nomads working abroad and provides the best option since it uses a local service provider that is known for good coverage. This is also usually a very affordable option- especially when traveling through developing countries.
Do your research
Whichever plan and device you choose for your internet needs on the road, make sure to do your due diligence and research everything you can about the service provider. Go into this process knowing exactly what your requirements and needs are and you will find success in your career or business while hitting the road.