While the idea of running away from it all and being totally disconnected from our online lives sounds idyllic, the reality these days is that staying connected is important to most of us. For us, our entire business is online. And though it’s not life and death if we’re away from our phones and email for a few hours, our business doesn’t stop operating just because we’ve jetted off on a project. Even if you aren’t a workaholic or have one of those jobs from which you well and truly get a vacation away from, we’ve all grown accustomed to having the world in the palm of our hand. When it comes to travel, we look up things like the nearest ATM or restaurants in the neighborhood we’re in. We use map apps to navigate. We order Uber to whisk us from the airport to hotel. We even use apps like Google Translate to help us communicate. We’re a digitally connected society and Vision Global WiFi offers an affordable portable WiFi rental service so you don’t have to disconnect.
What is a mobile hotspot?
If you’ve never used a mobile hotspot before, it’s a portable device that relies on a broadband connection just like your cellphone does to get internet. It functions like a miniature version of the wireless routers most of us have in our homes, and lets you connect multiple devices to it in order to get internet on your phone, laptop, tablets and more.
Even smartphones these days have the capability to turn them in to mobile hotspots. By a tap of turning on the “personal hotspot” setting on an iPhone, you can share your data connection with a friend.
But mobile hotspots typically have the capability to connect up to 10 devices to them and are more secure than opening your phone up as a hotspot. They also have better capabilities when it comes to securing your connection.
Why should you use a mobile hotspot?
If you’re anything like us, you’re already playing brinkmanship games with your phone battery to make it last as long as possible. Even though your phone can act as a hotspot, it’s just another task that drains your phone battery before your very eyes. Which is precisely why we don’t think mobile hotspots are becoming irrelevant and we still rely on using them not just when we travel.
Mobile hotspots can become a mobile office: We’ve been using mobile hotspots for nearly a decade now. When we moved to Italy and I still telecommuted for my job at a university, it was super important that I had reliable internet. Sometimes our home modem would go out or really slow down at certain times of the day, so we had bought a mobile hotspot and had a contract for a SIM card with a local provider for it. It was a back-up that came in handy way too frequently. It was also way more comfortable to just pull out my mobile hotspot when I needed it, then to sit out outside McDonald’s (McDonald’s reliably has wifi if you’re looking for it when in Italy) with my laptop balanced on my lap in the car – and yes, that happened more than once.
You don’t need to worry about roaming charges: It only just over a year ago that the EU abolished roaming charges. Before June 2017, we had to put international services on our phones or pick up a local pay-as-you-go SIM card if we wanted to stay connected when we left France. Who wants to have to hunt down a mobile phone store to pick up a SIM card on their vacation or business trip? We’ve rented mobile hotspots specifically for traveling in a country we knew we wouldn’t have service in.
No roaming charges or exceeding your data plan usage: Not to mention that when you do use your phone as a hotspot, you’re burning through your personal data plan.
Then there’s the reason you hope you never, ever need a mobile hotspot for: emergencies. Just last year when I was traveling in the San Juan Islands in the US, there wasn’t anywhere for me to purchase a SIM card in the airport. It was one of the few times I didn’t have a mobile hotspot or some sort of service, and I really regretted it. I was relying on WiFi at the hotel and at restaurants and cafes throughout most of the day. There were often hours between periods when I was connected, and my mom was trying to get in touch with me because my dad had fallen and was awaiting surgery in the hospital. After a scary jolt like that, I decided that as long as there is service available I want to be connected.
Vision Global WiFi Review
Now that we only need a MiFi device on occasion, it doesn’t make as much sense as it once did to own our own device. Plus, just like newer and improved models of smartphones come on the market, newer and improved models of mobile hotspots also come on the market. Then there’s still needing to find and buy a SIM card for the mobile hotspot once you arrive in your destination.
That’s why we were happy to test out Vision Global WiFi, a portable wifi rental service that offers coverage in over 130 countries. We tried it out here at home in France, where we could really put it to the test and compare the connection with our own 4G phone plan and our home wifi.
Reserving the device is super easy. You simply go to the Vision Global WiFi website, enter the region of the world you’ll be traveling in, the starting and ending dates you want to reserve for, and the price estimator calculates the cost. If you live in Los Angeles, you can pick up the device and drop it back off at LAX, otherwise you’ll receive the device by mail and ship it back in the prepaid shipping envelope just as we did.
You have to place your order a minimum of four days before your travel date and it’s shipped so that you receive it one day in advance. I personally like a little cushion just in case we’re not home when it’s delivered or something happens. So we actually recommend that you add a day on to your rental period.
The device itself is a GlocalMe G2, which looks a lot like a fatter version of an iPhone 4, and comes in a nice little travel pouch with the user manual and the plug. You don’t need to do anything with it when you receive it aside from charge it up and turn it on by holding down the power button on the left side for a few seconds. There’s a sticker with the network name and password on the device, and this same information is displayed on the screen when you start it up. Simply select the network and enter the password to connect up to five devices to the mobile hopspot.
The G2 is bigger than any other mobile hotspot we’ve ever used. It measures 4.6 by 2.5 by 0.8 inches and weighs 8 ounces. The weight is our only complaint. Since it’s that heavy, you can’t just slip it in a pocket.
That said, the USB port on the bottom of the device can be used to charge up your smartphone. I had to use it to charge my iPhone when I forgot my plug and was spending the night at a friend’s house. With a 6000mAh battery, it can fully charge up an iPhone in just a few hours.
The connection was very reliable, too. We tested the Vision Global WiFi device, which offers 4G service, in a variety of scenarios. We have a VoIP phone and we tested it making a call to the US; the call had no delay issues at all. We also tested it with Skype, which we use to call in and record our segments on the On Travel radio show we’re on and again the connection was excellent without any garbling or delay. It also came in very handy with the current demolition and rebuilding of the flat directly above ours. The drilling, sledgehammering and noise is often just too much to get any work done at home during the daytime right now. With gorgeous weather, we could set up in the park and work for a few hours or head to any cafe without needing to look only for ones that offer wifi.
We were impressed with the long lasting battery. With past mobile hotspots, we’ve had to use them sparingly by only turning them on when we needed internet in order to stretch the battery life. But with Vision Global Wifi, we’d use the device regularly for 10-12 hours and it still had plenty of battery life left. It won’t last that long, only about 4-5 hours, if you’re also using the device as a power bank to charge up your smartphone. So we still recommend carrying a separate power bank, which you can use to charge up both your smartphone and the MiFi device.
As for the price, we compared the rental cost with that of some other popular MiFi rentals. Even though Vision Global WiFi charges $16 for delivery and return, the total cost still came in over $30 cheaper than with competitors we’ve previously tested.
When you return from your trip, simply put everything back in the prepaid envelope that came with the rental and drop it off at a USPS location.
Overall Vision Global WiFi was extremely useful. The GlocalMe G2 device is designed to connect to the best network for the area, and we found that web speeds were just as fast as on our own 4G and fiber networks. We’d definitely rent from Vision Global WiFi in the future when we travel outside of Europe or on business trips.
Our mobile hotspot rental was in partnership with Vision Global WiFi in order to bring you this review. However, Luxe Adventure Traveler maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and enthusiasm for travel are entirely our own.