If you’re embarking on international travel these days, one of the things most people want is to be able to access the internet on the go. Historically, your options were to pay extremely high rates to roam with your existing mobile phone provider or buy local SIMs when you arrive at your destination. For certain destinations such as within the European Union, you can buy great SIM cards before leaving home, however, depending on your destination that isn’t always possible. The solution? Finding the best mobile wifi hotspot for international travel!
Mobile Wifi (also referred to as MiFi) allows you to access the internet abroad without needing to buy local SIM cards and at much cheaper rates to using roaming with your home SIM provider. This is a super convenient option if travelling to multiple countries where local SIMs don’t work across countries (e.g. travelling in the Balkans) or you simply don’t want to waste your precious time overseas in mobile phone shops trying to buy a local SIM. In some places like Baku, Azerbaijan you’ll need to spend at least a couple of hours dealing with bureaucracy to get a local SIM!
So wondering what the best MiFi device for international travel is? Here’s our guide to the best mobile WiFi hotspots currently available to help you make the decision about which one to buy for your upcoming trip!
What is Mobile Wifi and How Does It Work?
Do you know that internet router that you have at home to access WiFi? Imagine that same device except cordless, a fraction of the size and can work anywhere in the world. That is exactly what some of the best mobile WiFi hotspots for international travel are.
Mobile WiFi hotspots connect to mobile networks around the world (i.e. 3G or 4G networks) and give out at WiFi signal which you can then use to connect to the internet on your laptop or smartphone. Like your internet router back home, you can typically connect to multiple devices at once meaning you can share amongst family or friends or simply multitask across your devices!
Depending on the device you choose, the provider will have different data plans to choose from which allows for flexibility depending on where you’re travelling and the length of your trip. The best MiFi devices for international travel are also small and fit right into your pocket. Many of the newer models have a great battery life, which is an added bonus when compared to using your smartphone as a mobile hotspot as this tends to quickly deplete your phone’s battery!
Is Pocket Wifi or SIM Card Better for You?
If you’re debating between taking a mobile WiFi hotspot for your trip or buying a local SIM card then there are a few things you should consider.
Where are you travelling?
The destination of your trip plays a huge role in determining whether investing in the best portable wifi is worth it. More mainstream destinations such as countries within the European Union have plenty of local SIM card options that work across all countries in the bloc due to laws passed by the EU.
As mentioned earlier, regions like Balkans don’t have SIMs that work across all countries so having a mobile hotspot will save a lot of unnecessary time in sourcing local SIMs in every country.
There are also a number of countries where language barriers or bureaucracy can make it extremely difficult to buy a local SIM card. Having a mobile hotspot with you will save a lot of time and be likely cheaper than simply roaming from your home SIM, particularly if you are a frequent traveller.
How do you want to access the internet?
One big advantage that the best MiFi devices for international travel have over local SIM cards is that you can connect to multiple devices at once. That means you can use the internet across laptops, smartphones and share with fellow travellers. When using roaming on your home SIM card or a locally bought SIM card there can be restrictions on using the SIM card as a mobile hotspot.
If you’re looking for the best pocket WiFi in Europe without wanting to invest in a MiFi device, the Orange 20GB Prepaid SIM Card is one of the best deals that allows you to use the SIM card as a personal hotspot. However, coverage is predominately limited to only some countries within the European Union.
Length and budget of your trip
Like many things in life, deciding whether it’s worth to invest in one of the best mobile wifi hotspots for international travel comes down to how much time you have and money to spend.
If you’re travelling on a tight budget and have the luxury of time, buying local SIM cards (or not buying internet at all and relying on free WiFi) is the best option. If you’re short on time and want to ensure that you have internet access as soon as you land, then it’s undoubtedly worth buying a mobile hotspot for international travel.
Data Allowance Required
Mobile WiFi hotspots can become very expensive if you plan on using them heavily to download large files or excessively stream YouTube or movies.
If you plan on using the hotspot in excess of tasks like e-mails and basic internet browsing, then you’re probably going to be better off purchasing a local data SIM which in many countries will give you a much higher data limit. For example, in Armenia, you can purchase a 100GB SIM for around $20USD!
I would recommend expecting to use a mobile hotspot for the same tasks you use mobile data back home if you want to keep costs down.
The Best Mobile WiFi Hotspot for International Travel
So now that we’ve covered the best reasons to buy a portable wifi hotspot, here are the best mobile wifi hotspots for international travel that we recommend.
The GlocalMe G3 Mobile Hotspot is undoubtedly one of the best MiFi devices for international travel. Weighing only 240g, the device has a battery life of up to 15 hours, an LCD touch screen and is small enough to fit directly into your pocket making it perfect for travellers who want to keep weight down in their travel backpack!
GlocalMe uses its own technology to connect to the best local 3G or 4G network that is available in the area you’re travelling to without needing to purchase a local SIM card. The GlocalMe G3 Mobile Hotspot currently supports over 120 countries including most of Europe as well as many countries in the Americas & Asia. Most of the gaps that exist in their coverage are currently in Africa and the Middle East.
You can connect up to 5 devices at one time on your mobile hotspot and one of the best features of the GlocalMe G3 Mobile Hotspot is that they have a huge range of flexible options when purchasing data. For example, you can buy global data packs or country and region-specific packs for lengths ranging from one day to one year. You can also easily recharge online so you’ll never run out of data on the road.
All in all, the GlocalMe G3 Mobile Hotspot is arguably the best portable wifi for travel currently available on the market and a great device to purchase if you’ve decided that you need a MiFi device for your upcoming trip. It also comes with 1GB global data pack included as an added bonus! There is also a travel case which can be purchased separately.
The MightyWifi M1 Mobile Hotspot is another great wifi hotspot for international travel that is worth considering when searching for the best MiFi device.
It has many similar specifications to the GlocalMe G3 Wifi Hotspot however it has slightly worse battery life (only lasting up to 12 hours compared to 15 hours) and the country coverage list isn’t as extensive. It also allows you to connect up to 5 devices and uses similar technology which connects to the best mobile network in the country you are in without requiring a local SIM card.
One advantage that the MightyWifi M1 Mobile Hotspot has currently is that it offers a 3GB global data pack and a 50GB USA data pack when purchasing the hotspot.
This makes the MightyWifi M1 Mobile Hotspot an appealing product for travellers looking to use the device predominately in the USA. Their data plans are however not as flexible if travelling outside of the USA compared to other options on this list.
You can a MightyWifi M1 power bank separately that integrates with the mobile hotspot and allows you to charge the device and other electronics at the same time.
The We.Stream Secure Mobile WiFi Hotspot has the most extensive country coverage list with the device currently working in 145 countries worldwide. Some places it covers which the above two don’t include Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Belarus in Europe, Kazakstan and Krygzstan in Asia and some additional countries in Africa.
The We.Stream Secure Mobile WiFi Hotspot is also lightweight, has a battery life of up to 15 hours and works in the same way as the above two devices by connecting to local 3G and 4G networks without needing a local SIM card. It also has the added advantage of an in-built VPN for additional security and an in-built power bank so you can charge your mobile phone.
The device comes with a 2GB global data pack and travel pouch in order to keep your device nice and secure.
One disadvantage that the We.Stream Secure Mobile WiFi Hotspot has is that their data packs are fairly limited and you can only purchase global data packs rather than country-specific options. This means that you’ll need to do the maths to determine whether the other GlocalMe and MightyWifi will work out to be better value in the long run.
Despite the limited data plans, the We.Stream Secure Mobile WiFi Hotspot is still one of the best MiFi devices for international travel and definitely worth considering.
The Skyroam Solis Mobile WiFi Hotspot lets you connect to up to 5 devices, has a long battery life and covers over 130 countries though it doesn’t offer as extensive coverage in Europe as the GlocalMe or We.Stream hotspots. It does, however, cover some destinations that the other mobile hotspots don’t such as Iraq and Uzbekistan.
The data plan options for this mobile hotspot are fairly limited and many users online report issues with their speed being throttled due to their ‘Fair Use Policy’. This means that the Skyroam Solis Mobile WiFi Hotspot is probably only worth considering if you are light internet user or it covers a destination that isn’t covered by the other mobile hotspots listed. The Skyroam Solis travel case can be purchased separately.
Investing in of these best mobile WiFi hotspots for international travel can be a great way to ensure you have reliable internet access when abroad and not have to bother dealing with buying local SIM cards in every destination that you visit!
Are you looking for the best MiFi device for international travel? Have you found one that isn’t included on this list? Let us know in the comments below!