Are you looking for the best unlocked mobile Wifi hotspot for your next international trip? I've got you covered in this international Wifi hotspot guide! For the past three years, our Best WiFi Hotspots for International Travelers guide has been the #1 wifi hotspot resource online connecting travelers with Internet data all over the globe.
Introduction to International Wifi Hotspot Devices 2020
During your adventures around the world, you may have seen other travelers with WiFi hotspots seamlessly accessing the Internet while you struggled with connecting to free public WiFi signals. If you felt a bit envious of their newage digital connectivity, your tech envy days are over, because I've put together a list of the Best International 4G WiFi Hotspots & SIM Cards for Travelers and compared their pricing, coverage, and features, to help you determine the best service for your needs. I've also reached out to each company to negotiate a discount on your behalf so that you can spend your hard earned travel budget on fun activities instead of Internet data.
Table of Contents
- How do WiFi hotspots work?
- #1) Skyroam Review 2020
- #2) TEP Wireless Review 2020
- #3) Keepgo Review 2020
- #4) Travel WiFi Review 2020
- #5) Roaming Man Review 2020
- #6) Google Fi Review 2020
- #7) Always Online Wireless Review 2020
- #8) COMING SOON
- What's the best Wifi hotspot 2020?
- What's the cheapest Wifi hotspot 2020?
How International 4G Hotspots & SIM Cards Work
The way these international hotspot companies operate is that they've licensed deals with 4G wireless carriers around the world to allow you to transition from one carrier's network to another without having to switch SIM cards and purchase a new local cell phone plan in each country you visit. With some services, you pay a flat fee for wireless access in every area they service, and other services have separate rates for each country. In some cases, you may end up paying more than you would if you bought a local SIM card, but you're paying for the convenience of having a seamless transition between carriers and service wherever you go, as well as Internet access as soon as you step off the plane.
If you're taking a short trip or you're heavily dependent on Internet to run your business like I am, then you may be willing to pay for the convenience. You might also choose to carry one of these hotspots with you as you travel and only activate it for 24 hour periods at a time when you need it, and then switch to a cheaper local plan after you get acquainted in the new country.
Best 4G International WiFi Hotspots for Travelers & Digital Nomads
I've researched your best available options for 4G WiFi Hotspots and World SIM Cards and narrowed them down to these top picks, which I'll compare below. I've also attempted to negotiate a discount for you with each carrier because I love when I can save my readers money on travel technology.
#1) Skyroam Review 2020
UPDATE Aug 2019: Introducing Skyroam's new Skyroam Solis X. More info about the device in my updated Skyroam review below.
Skyroam launched in 2008 and has 500+ retail locations and 150+ drop off points worldwide.
Their new Solis X device ($179.99) doubles as a 4200mAh power bank that can recharge your wireless devices via USB-C and power them with Internet at the same time. The Solis X can last more than 16 hours on a single charge (if not used as a power bank) and connect up to 10 devices at once. The device size is 3.5″ x 0.9″. It includes an 8MP remote operated camera and 4GB of storage, which you can upgrade by connecting to your Dropbox account. The new Solis X also includes an App with Skyroam's new Smart Assistant builtin. The Smart Assistant is basically a connection to IFTTT (If This Then That) service, which then allows you to make connections to other services you use like Twitter, Dropbox, Evernote, Nest, Fitbit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, etc.
They also offer a Solis X Lite device ($119.99) which is the same size, can also connect up to 10 devices, but doesn't offer the camera, speakerphone, or Smart Assistant feature like the Solis X. The power bank is also optional with the Solis X Lite.
These two devices replaced their old Solis device, which you can still use for service if you already have one, but can no longer purchase the device new.
COST: How much does Skyroam cost?
1) UNLIMITED: You can BUY the new Solis X device for $179.99 or the Solis X Lite for $119.99 + shipping (calculated at checkout based on your location) and pay $9/day or $99/month for unlimited Internet. Purchasing the device also includes 1 Free Day Pass.
2) PAY PER GB: You can BUY the new Solis X device for $179.99 or the Solis X Lite for $119.99 + shipping and then pay $6/month for their pay-as-you-go GOData subscription + $6/GB (USA/Europe) or $9/GB (Worldwide). This plan requires that you own the Solis device. So to explain that in a different way for clarification, you pay $6/month for the service no matter what, then you just buy the gigabytes as you use them.
3) You can RENT the Solis X device for $8.99/day + shipping. If you choose to rent, you prepay for shipping both ways, and they include in the package a box with shipping label to return the device from whichever country you choose, or you can drop it off at one of their 150+ worldwide dropoff points.
COVERAGE: What countries does Skyroam offer coverage?
Skyroam provides Internet service in 190+ countries and growing. (It was 130 countries when I originally published this article, so they are definitely expanding.) Keep in mind that their local coverage is only as strong as the local towers they are renting from, so your service with Skyroam will only be as good as the towers around you. Skyroam offers service in a lot of countries, but they don't magically provide Internet where towers don't exist!
Speed Throttles: If you use over 500mb in one day on the $9/day or $99/month plan, they switch you from 4G speed to 2G/3G for the remainder of the day and then set you back to 4G speeds the next day. If you pay the $6/GB (USA/Europe) or $9/GB (Worldwide), you will always have 4G speed.
Best Skyroam Alternatives: TEP Wireless
Skyroam Cons: 4G speed is limited to 500mbs/day on their unlimited plans.
Skyroam Discount Codes: Use this link and promo code “TRAVELISLIFE” at checkout for 10% off your entire purchase or rental.
#2) TEP Wireless / Travel Wifi / Sapphire Review 2020
TEP Wireless is a pioneer in the worldwide Internet industry and has been recommended by top travel bloggers around the world since they launched in 2011. They have proven to be one of the most popular choices amongst my readers. Recently they merged with Travel Wifi (who were formerly #4 on this list) and Sapphire — and are now all selling under the Travel Wifi brand.
TEP Wireless stands out amongst the crowd of hotspot providers because they offer a lot of valuable extras with their subscription including the following.
1) Prime WiFi – Free WiFi hotspot access at over 60+ million hotspots worldwide + free in-flight WiFi service on American Airlines, Lufthansa, Etihad and Air Lingus fleets equipped with WiFi. This is a HUGE perk because it'll allow you easy Internet access even in places with poor cell phone coverage.
2) Kitestring – an SMS based emergency service that checks in on you while you travel via scheduled text messages that you sent the frequency of. If you don't reply to the text, Kitestring sends your emergency contacts an alert message.
3) TEP Guru – a free local concierge service that privately connects you with locals via their TEP+ App who you can ask for recommendations on things to do, places to eat/drink, and where to stay from 9am to 8pm every day.
4) VOIP Phone & SMS Service – built-in to your service via their app with international calling prices that cost about $0.01/minute.
COSTS: How much does Travel Wifi / TEP Wireless “Teppy” cost?
1) You can RENT a Teppy starting at:
- $7.95/day for 1GB/day of 4G service $8.95/day for 5GB of 4G service (includes travel adapter)
- $11.95/day for UNLIMITED 4G service (includes travel adapter)
The actual prices listed above vary by country, and there are too many to list. However the more expensive countries only add about $1-3/day to the numbers above.
Shipping to you is free for a few countries but ranges in price for the rest of the world. You can then either return the device to one of their drop off points for free or pay to ship it back to one of their warehouse locations.
2) You can BUY a Teppy for $149 + $9.95 shipping (or higher depending on the country) which includes 1GB, and then Pay As You Go. There are too many pay-as-you-go options to list them all, but they've got plans through Sapphire ranging from Pay-Per-MB/GB all the way to Unlimited Daily plans like when you rent. You have a lot more options when you Buy the Teppy vs Rent the Teppy. With Daily Unlimited Pay-As-You Go plans, you can start and stop service anytime for 24 hour coverage windows. Purchasing the device comes with 1 Free Day Pass.
2) You can Subscribe to a monthly plan. Update Jan 2020: Monthly plans are no longer offered.
3) You can BUY a Travelwifi SIM Card for $34.95 with 20GB included and use it in your unlocked phone, then use your phone as a hotspot to connect other devices. This is currently offered in 85 countries. After you use up the initial 20GB, you can re-up your data with similar data packages as offered above.
Coverage: TEP Wireless works in 130+ countries. Now before you go thinking, “But Skyroam works in 190+ countries!”, keep in mind that you probably won't be visiting that many countries on your next trip. So you only need to make sure that these devices work in the countries that YOU are going to. You'll want to consult both of their websites to check your specific travel destinations for coverage before purchasing or renting.
Speed Throttles: After you've used 1GB/5GB per day (depending on your plan), your connection speed gets slowed to 256kbs until the end of the day and then the speed resets the next day.
Best TEP Wireless / Travel Wifi / Sapphire Alternatives: Skyroam
Full Review: For more info, read my full TEP Wireless Review & Comparison.
TEP Wireless Pros: 60+ Million WiFi Hotspots • Easy flat rate pricing. • VOIP services offered. • Worldwide coverage. • Rental program. • Exclusive discount for Travel is Life readers.
TEP Wireless / Travel Wifi Cons:Throttled 4G beyond 1GB. • Shorter battery life.
TEP Wireless / Travel Wifi Discounts: Use this link to TEPWireless.com and discount code 0TEPTILORG10 for 10% off your purchase or rental.
#3) KeepGo Review 2020
Keepgo offers WiFi hotspot devices and World SIM Cards that work with your existing unlocked mobile device. They sell prepaid data by the gigabyte that is unthrottled and usable up to a year after purchase (unlike many companies where the data expires after 30 days). They offer 24 hour customer service via live chat or telephone. KeepGo currently does not offer an unlimited plan, but there is one in the works.
COST: How much does Keepgo cost?
UPDATE February 2020: Keepgo significantly reduced the cost of their data last year. This month they introduced a new GoFi Europe USA Plan for cheaper data in those countries. More info below.
Their SIM Cards cost $49 and their WiFi Hotspots cost $99 with free shipping to 38 countries. Their hotspots weight 75 grams and can power up to 16 devices for up to 11 hours per charge. Worldwide Data is priced in bundles at $14 for 500MB, $26 for 1GB, $61 for 3GB, $88 for 5GB, and $165 for 10GB. Their new GoFi Europe USA Plan offers data at a flat rate of $8/GB in those regions. You can switch between the plans anytime. They do not offer device rentals or unlimited plans.
Coverage: Keepgo offers service in 100+ countries.
Speed Throttles: Keepgo does not throttle your 4G speeds since you are paying per gigabyte. This is a huge perk of their service. If you're willing to pay for the data you consume without worry of being slowed down, then Keepgo is a good option for this reason.
Best Keepgo Alternatives: Skyroam – specifically their new GoData Plan
KeepGo Pros: Unthrottled 4G data. • 24/7 customer service. • No extra device needed if you choose the SIM Card option. • Free shipping. • Exclusive 10% discount for Travel is Life readers.
KeepGo Cons: No unlimited data plans (yet).
KeepGo Discounts: Use this link to Keepgo and promo code TRAVELISLIFE for 10% off your purchase.
#4) Travel WiFi Review 2020
Travel WiFi was started in Nov 2013 by five entrepreneurs in France who above all else value customer relations. They primarily cater to travelers in France and Europe (for example, they are distributed at every Tourism Information desk in CDG and ORLY Airport in Paris), however they also offer worldwide service. Their device lasts up to 10 hours on a charge and you can connect up to 10 devices at once.
COST: How much does Travel Wifi cost?
Travel WiFi is now part of the TEP Wireless / Sapphire family of services. See my review of TEP Wireless above for their updated pricing.
Coverage: Previously Travel Wifi catered to France and Europe and offered limited Worldwide coverage, but now that they merged with TEP Wireless and Sapphire, they are able to offer worldwide coverage in 130+ countries.
Best Travel WiFi Alternatives: Skyroam
Travel WiFi Cons: No option to purchase device. • Shipping rates increase outside of France.
Travel WiFi Discounts: Use this link to Travel Wifi and the promo code “0TEPTILORG10” for 10% off your purchase.
#5) Roaming Man Review 2020
Roaming Man offers a 4G WiFi hotspot that works in over 130+ countries for one daily flat rate. Their device can power up to 5 devices at once and can last over 12 hours on a charge.
COSTS: How much does Roaming Man cost?
Roaming Man‘s rental service starts at $7.99/day in North America, Asia, and Europe and $9.99/day in the rest of the world + shipping in both directions and they require a minimum of 5 days rental period. As of Dec 2018, they now offer an option to purchase a device for $149.99 which you can activate with service as needed.
Coverage: 130+ countries and regions..
Speed Throttles: If you use over 500mb in one day, they switch you from 4G speed to 2G/3G (or around 256kbs).
Best Roaming Man Alternatives: Skyroam or TEP Wireless
Roaming Man Pros: Easy flat rate pricing. • Worldwide coverage. • Rental options. • Exclusive discount for Travel is Life readers.
Roaming Man Cons:4G speed is limited to 500mbs/day on Basic and 1GB/day on Premium with no option to add more.
Roaming Man Discounts: Use this link to Roaming Man and promo code TILORG for 10% off your rental or TILORG10 for 10% off your purchase.
#6) Google Project Fi Review 2020
Project Fi is an international cell phone plan offered by Google that works in over 200+ countries and territories. They do not offer a hotspot device, however, you can tether their phones to your laptop or wireless devices to share your Internet connection.
Currently through Google, you can purchase the Pixel 4 & 4XL, Pixel 3a & Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 3 XL, and Moto G7. However you can also check their compatibility list to see if the service will work with our existing phone. (For example, it'll work with my Verizon unlocked Samsung 9.) Their service lets you seamlessly shift from their cellular coverage partners to over four million WiFi hotspots around the world. You are only charged for data received over their cellular network and not when on WiFi networks. You can port your existing phone number over to Project Fi from your existing carrier or get a new number. In the USA, they partner with Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular to provide coverage.
Cost: Project Fi offers worldwide flat rate service fees w/ free calls to 50+ countries and rates starting at 1¢/min to other countries. They offer a combination of Pay-Per-GB and Unlimited Plans for individuals and families including:
- Individual: $20/month for unlimited calls & texts + $10/GB for data Individual: $70/month for unlimited calls, texts, and data (High-speed data up to 22 GB/person & slower after)
- Family: $16-$18/month for unlimited calls & texts + $10/GB for data
- Family: $45-$60/month per line for unlimited calls, texts, and data (High-speed data up to 22 GB/person & slower after)
For the Pay-Per-GB plans above, you only pay that amount you use at exactly $10/GB. So for example, if you used 1.226GB you'd pay $12.26 (not $20 for 2GB like some companies who charge for the next tier up).
Each plan also includes a free Google One membership ($19.99/year).
You can add as many tablets to your plan as you'd like for free and just pay for the data they use. While traveling outside of US, a flat $0.20/minute applies. While calling from within the US, international rates apply and vary by country. International data is the same flat rate of $10/GB in every country.
Coverage: 200+ countries and territories.
Speed Throttles: The unlimited plans throttle your speed after 22GB per month, however you can then switch to $10/GB if you need more 4G speed that month. The Pay-Per-GB plans throttle you after 15GB.
Best Google Fi Alternatives: Keepgo or Skyroam
Google Fi Pros: Unthrottled 4G high speed data. • Unused data is credited back. • Includes voice/text since it's a phone.
Google Fi Cons:Only works on certain devices. • No hotspot devices. • No discount offered to Travel is Life readers.
Google Fi Discounts: Project Fi does not offer any discounts, however, you may find individual promotions for specific devices depending on when you look.
#7) Always Online Wireless Review 2020
Always Online Wireless offers a 4G World SIM Card that works in your unlocked mobile device and data plans by the day, hour, or megabyte. They also work with iPad's Apple SIM Card. Essentially they are like a data broker, selling you an individual plan with different prices for each country using the same SIM card. AOW has agreements with multiple carriers in almost every country, so their SIM will actually jump from carrier to carrier to give you the best signal/speeds wherever they are. They do not offer a single rate worldwide plan.
Cost: Their SIM Card costs $14.95 + $5 shipping. Data rates start at $2.99/day, $0.11/hour, and $0.01/mb but vary per country. Their international rates average about $1.99/hour for 20mb, $9.99/day for 200mb, and $49/GB.
Coverage: 90 countries.
Speed Throttles: They do not throttle your speeds since they are essentially charging you per megabyte to be used within a window of time.
Best Always Online Wireless Alternatives:
Always Online Wireless Pros: Works with your existing device. • Unthrottled 4G speeds. • They offer small data packages by the hour or per megabyte for occasional use.
Always Online Wireless Cons:Data fees vary by country (sometimes substantially). • Separate data plan for each country. • No discount offered to Travel is Life readers.
Always Online Wireless Discounts: At this time, I do not have a discount available to my readers for Always Online Wireless, but have reached out to the company to obtain one. Please let them know in the notes section of your checkout process that you found them via TravelisLife.org.
#8) COMING SOON
I'm currently looking for a new service to replace them on my top 8 list since I had to remove one of them from the list. I've spent months and a lot testing / research with hotspot companies, and I'm narrowing in on one to add to the list soon. Rest assured, the wheels are in motion, but for now, I'd rather have a GREAT list of seven options than just add an eighth for the sake of having 8 options. In the meantime, stick to one of the other options mentioned on this list.
Which is the best mobile hotspot 2020?
If unlimited data is important to you then Skyroam or TEP Wireless will be a good choice because of their unlimited data options, flat rate pricing, and affordable devices. (Note: If you do go with Skyroam, be sure to use our promo code TRAVELISLIFE at checkout to save 15% off your entire purchase or rental. And if you go with TEP Wireless be sure to use our promo code 0TEPTILORG10 for 10% off.)
If you'd rather pay per gigabyte and have unthrottled 4G speed no matter how much you use, give either Skyroam or Keepgo a try and use our link for 10% off your purchase. If you have any questions about which service will fit your needs best, drop me a comment below and I'll do my best to help you out.
What's the cheapest WiFi hotspot service?
The least expensive hotspot for daily use is Skyroam with their $99/month unlimited plan which come out to $3.30/day for Internet access.
Keepgo doesn't offer an unlimited plan – but their data does not expire. So if you're only looking for occasional or emergency use Internet abroad, you can purchase 1GB from KeepGo and only use it when you need it. For minimal usage, this can be a savings because you're not paying for unlimited data that you don't need. Use this link to Keepgo and promo code TRAVELISLIE for 10% off your purchase.
See Also: Best International Data and Cell Phone Plans from USA Carriers
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International Wifi Hotspot Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Since publishing this article, I've received hundreds of e-mails from travelers asking my advice about their particular situation and which hotspot service I'd recommend. I've responded to all of them privately, however, the questions they ask could benefit other readers. So moving forward, I'll be publishing some of the questions below as FAQs (however removing any personally identifiable information from the question). If you've got a question, feel free to contact me as well.
Why is Glocalme not in your review, as their devices seem pretty convenient and affordable?
I'm familiar with GlocalMe. They're actually owned by the same company who own Roaming Man who I do include on the list.
Can I use a Skyroam plan with a different hotspot device?
As far as I know, you cannot use a Skyroam plan with a 3rd party device. If you're interested in using your own device, look into purchasing a SIM card from Keepgo or TravelWifi.
To help soothe my 93 year old mother’s worry when I travel to KSA and countries in Eastern Europe, I am thinking about purchasing (not renting) a portable wifi hotspot and have read your recent reviews. The Roaming Man purchase device highly rated by you is out of stock and I have heard some recent concerns about Solis regarding connectivity/dropped signals. Any advice?
Reviews about these kinds of devices are tough because they're so anecdotal. So someone in a rural part of France could have a negative experience with Skyroam/ TEP / Roaming Man (or whichever) while someone else in Paris could have zero issues. The variance is that any of these devices are connecting to local towers, which play a big role in how people perceive the device itself.
I personally use Skyroam and TEP Wireless — which are also the two highest picked choices by my readers. However I'm mostly in South America (although was in Georgia for two months this year and it worked fine there). Those would provide you with the most options if you own the device itself. You could also just pick up a cheap unlocked second phone as a device and use Keepgo for emergencies only (because the data lasts a year and doesn't expire if you up it a little each year). For example, you can get new unlocked phones for like $100-200 and use them as a hotspot with an International SIM like Keepgo and have the best of both worlds.
Sorry it's hard to give specific advice. So much is country / regional specific as to how well your devices will connect. You might want to make a list of each country you'll be going to and cross reference the coverage of the specific companies you're interested in to see which would provide the best coverage overall. I think you'll find that those three companies will be pretty similar though coverage-wise.
Happy to help if I can offer further assistance. The advice above is what I use / what I would do in your shoes.
I am considering being a digital nomad and traveling extensively. In the past, I just got a SIM card that included tons of data (EE, Vodafone). Your article on The 8 Best WiFi Hotspots for International Travelers is informative but can't help with my needs, as the options have data/ speed thresholds/ limitations. Am I already doing the best bet by simply tethering my cell phone's wifi to my computer? Know of anything else?
I mostly use the hotspots for convenience purposes, but like you, when I stay long periods of time places, I just buy local SIM cards from local carriers. That's always been the cheapest option for me. FYI though – not all of the options I profiled in that article you found me on have data caps. Keepgo for example doesn't throttle your speeds.
The only other suggestion I have for you is to look into subscriptions for WiFi hotspots around the world like Skype Wifi (formerly Skype Access) or Boingo. But it might be hit or miss with whether they offer wifi near where you're traveling. Sounds to me like you're on the right track with what you've got now.
Question / Suggestions
If you've got a question or suggestion, feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.
Looking for something while on a cruise ship. Ship charges a fortune for one device. Any recommendations?
Cruise ships really are expensive for Internet! Unfortunately, the hotspots on this list won’t be much better for you because they connect to local towers. And none of the options on this list that I know of offer service in open water. I had written another article about the Best International Data and Cell Phone Plans from USA Carriers – but unfortunately they don’t offer great options either. Cruises are a tough one as you know. Sorry I can’t be more helpful to you.
What about countries in the Middle East, such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Turkey? Which would be best?
Hi Matt – Looks like many of them including Skyroam and TEPWireless (which have been the two most popular so far with my readers) offer the coverage you’re looking for. TEP’s got the ability to upgrade the amount of 4G data in your package for an extra couple bucks a day but Skyroam has the new unlimited monthly plan for $99/month – so depending on how long you’ll be traveling, that might be a good fit.
Do you know if any of these (or any others) will offer wifi while on a plane? I’m traveling from JFK to South Africa on South African Airways, and the plane does not have in-flight wifi.
Hey Cammi – At the moment I don’t know of any. TEP Wireless advertises on their website that their In Flight WiFi feature is coming soon and will be included with their plans, but a date has not been announced for when that’s going to happen. Sorry that doesn’t do much to help you on your upcoming trip. If you happen to find something that works for you, please pop back in and let me know and I’ll update the post to help others as well.
looks like the inflight is up
Thanks Dahlia – good find. I just confirmed with TEP Wireless too. (Not that I don’t trust you haha I just always confirm every update.) They just wrote, “Tep’s in-flight service covers American Airlines, Lufthansa, Etihad and Air Lingus fleets equipped with WiFi.”
I’ll update my post accordingly. Thank you again for the heads up.
Thanks for this helpful article! I am planning for our Summer trip to Europe and I am still searching and comparing the options for wifi rental. Would like to add a few things:
– Skyroam monthly rental of $99 is only available to existing customers who have already bought their device. And the rental renews automatically until cancelled. I have confirmed these after calling the company
– There are many negative reviews about Tep Wireless on Tripadvisor.com, mostly are from a few years back
Since Skeyroam service is so new, how can we get reliable review on their services?
bWise – You’re the best. Thank you for discovering that info about Skyroam and coming back here to share it with me and everyone reading this. I will update this post later about the $99/month only being available to customers who own the device and about it auto-renewing. Thanks again and enjoy your summer trip to Europe!
Thanks for the comprehensive article. We are Canadians going on a 21 day trip in France, and will not need any special wi-fi device after that. For that reason, rental is the best for us, I think, but I can’t find many options. What do you recommend?
Hey Mina – Your trip around France sounds like a blast. Perhaps Skyroam would be the most ideal and economical option for you if you need a lot of data since they offer the 30 Day Unlimited Package for $99. The caveat to that is you have to BUY the device itself for $149 so it’d come out to about $248 for the 30 days and you’ll have the device forever after that to activate when you please. Alternatively, Keepgo can sell you a SIM Card that you just pay for however much data you think you’ll need over the 3 weeks (or can always add more along the way). That method is economical if you won’t require unlimited data. You can just buy 2 GBs for the trip. Lastly, if you’ve got an unlocked phone, you can always just buy a local prepaid SIM Card in France. 3 weeks is enough time that it may be worth it for you to dedicate an hour when you first arrive into finding a local prepaid plan. The downside of that avenue is that you won’t have Internet the moment you get off the plane (which you might need) and you have to deal with local companies, but it’d probably be the least expensive option of the three I outlined above. If you have any specific questions though, feel free to ask here or e-mail me at [email protected] and I’ll do my best to steer you in the right direction. If you end up going with a different option all together not mentioned on this page, please pop back in and let me know. I want to keep this page updated with the best options.
Which device do you recommend for doing a live Instagram video abroad?
Hi Manuel – Technically any device that connects to 4G could handle that job, but perhaps consider either Keepgo (who don’t throttle 4G speeds at all) or TEP Wireless (who allow you to upgrade to 1GB of 4G speed per day). Because if you’ll be live streaming a lot, I’m thinking that paying for access to 4G speed would be in your best interest versus getting throttled mid-way through a live stream.
i highly recommend google fi 😀
works like a charm
I think it is worth pointing out that Skyroam has a more limited world coverage than TEP does – including pretty popular countries like Japan. This was definitely the most important factor in making my choice.
Hi. Thanks for the comprehensive survey.
Kindly advise – I travel several times a year each trip 7 to 10 days, worldwide. I’d like to purchase a device and activate it for each trip separately. My data demands are not specially large. What would you recommend? Thanks in advance for your kind assistance.
Hi Udi – If you’re looking for a device (and not a SIM card), consider Skyroam. They’ve been my most popular choice amongst readers. You can purchase one of their devices and then activated it as needed before your trips. Please note their coverage area though. While their service may be great in the areas they cover, you’ll want to double check that they cover the areas that you specifically will be traveling. Good luck!
Both Skyroam and Ted don’t cover Montenegro and some other countries in Europe. And Roaming Man device sell them ONLY inside US. I live in Sweden and traveling to Montenegro, need a large data and 4 G speed. What kind of device could you recommend for me? I want to buy one…😊
Hi Anna – Sorry to say but it doesn’t look like any of the foreign hotspot companies cover Montenegro. I’m thinking it’s because of the telecommunication companies in Montenegro not offering roaming agreements. That’s usually the case when NONE of the companies offer it. Even Travel-Wifi which specializes in Europe can’t offer service in Montenegro. Sorry to disappoint! Sounds like the best and only option for you would be to just pick up a local SIM card after you arrive. If possible, don’t do it at the airport though because they are usually heavily inflated prices. If you end up finding a better solution, please pop back in and let me know so that other people reading this can benefit from your research. Have a great time on your trip!
Hi Paul – Loved your info here! I’m doing a one time 10 day trip to Spain by myself and have an Iphone 8 w/Verizon service, I don’t want to buy a device (wouldn’t use it enough) and will need to use mapping, texting, and internet. I will be driving around the country and need reliability. I also have an older Ipad I’m taking that has AT&T wifi…Not sure if that can be connected too? EEEk I’m not tech savvy and need a little guidance on what would be the easiest way to be connected and stay connected while I’m there.
Hi Susan – Thanks for stopping by before your trip. In a nutshell you’ve got three options:
1) You can buy a roaming package with Verizon Wireless for your trip and use your existing device and SIM card. I have more info about that in my article Best International Data and Cell Phone Plans from USA Carriers or just give Verizon a call to inquire. This is the most expensive option.
2) If you want to use your existing device (and not buy a separate hotspot like Skyroam or TEP Wireless), you can get an international SIM card from a company like Keepgo to replace the Verizon SIM in your iPhone while you’re away. A service like Keepgo will connect your existing phone to 4G towers across Europe. You pre-purchase the data in GB packages and use it as you need it. This is significantly less expensive than option 1, but not as cheap as the next option.
3) You can show up in Spain, find out who their local cell phone carriers are, and buy a SIM card and prepaid plan for 10 days. A quick Google search showed me that they have four carriers: Orange, Movistar, Vodafone, and Yoigo. So you could find a store on your first day in town and purchase a prepaid plan. This would most likely be your least expensive option. Just don’t buy anything at the airport even if you see those companies with a booth setup because they often charge you 10x the price that you’d receive at a local store. Make sure to bring your passport too because they will most likely ask.
Options 1 and 2 would be your most convenient because you’d have Internet from the second you stepped off the plane without any logistics of finding a local store and getting setup with a prepaid plan, however option 3 is the least expensive. Good luck! Holler if you have anymore questions.
Looking for low-cost long-term emergency access both at home and abroad with a lot of data available when I do need it (up to ~5GB/day)
I would imagine that Keepgo would be your best bet from this list because you can top up the data once a year so that none of it expires, and there is no data capping so you’d have a lot of data when you need it.
Thanks so much for your help with this….much appreciated! Happy Travels 🙂
Well this is frustrating. I tried a Sprint hotspot about ten years ago. It was expensive ($150/mo) and provided very little data (6GB/mo). Speed and price have gone way up, but actual amount of data is still pretty much the same…
Think so? Skyroam is at $9/day or $99/mo for unlimited data or $9/GB for pay as you go. Far cry from the $25/GB you were paying with Sprint.
Have you researched Glocalme with the G3 hotspot and new S1 world phone? I’m trying to decide between getting a new device with google fi and/or a hotspot/phone with Glocalme. I go to Japan yearly and for two months at a time. I’ve rented hotspots in the past but I think owning my own or having a better longer term options makes more sense as time goes on. I like keepgo and have researched all of the other options in your list. My two main goals are that whatever I can get can work simply between us, croatia, slovenia, turkey, and japan. And my other goal is that is get get fast, unthrottled speeds in Japan for video work. Google fi throttles but at a higher point than most others.
Hi Javon – GlocalMe is the same company as Roaming Man which is why I did not include it on the list twice for hotspots. I’ve got another resource coming out about International SIM Cards (versus hotspots) and was considering bringing attention to that S1 world phone on there or making a separate article about world phones. There’s a bit of an overlap between these companies when it comes to hotspots, SIMs, world phones, but some companies only provide one or the other. It’d be a tough call if I were in your shoes too as to what to do. I personally like being able to use my same device everywhere, versus having to have a separate international phone just for traveling, which is why I’d probably do Google Fi if I were in your shoes, so that I could use a Pixel 3 the rest of the year in USA too. Sorry I’m more than a week late replying to your comment. Just curious, had you made a decision since then? And if so, what’d you decide to do?
Hi Paul, Have you heard about Sapphire Hotspot. My friends are using it and I wonder how well it works compare to Skyroam. Thanks
Hi Eric – No I have not. I added it to my list of hotspots to check out in the future though. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. What do your friends think of it?
Hey Paul, I liked your write up on TEP Wireless & was going to go with it. All though I read a horror story on them elsewhere. But it was dated in 2014 & yours was more current. I tried your code “A7YKMS7Z10 – 10% discount”. & it didn’t work. Do you have a new code for them? Fingers crossed to use them. I need a Wifi Hotspot connection in Mexico next month…
HI Louie – Thanks for letting me know that the code expired. It’s for a limited number of uses and unfortunately the only way for me to find out it’s run out is when someone lets me know. I reached out to my rep at TEP Wireless and will have the code updated on this page as soon as I have it. I also made note to e-mail you directly with the code when I have it so that you don’t have to check back. Normally they set me up with a new code within a few days, so if you can’t find another one before then, I should have a working one again by end of the week. Thanks again.
All set – same code is active again for another 200 uses. Thanks again for letting me know it had reached its limit.
Hi Paul -Great reviews and advise. Looks like the TEP code is no longer active. Any chance you can renew for another 200 uses? Thanks!
Hey Cliff – You rock! Thanks for letting me know. I just e-mailed TEP Wireless to have it renewed. I’ll post an update when it’s ready, but I also made a note to e-mail you directly when I hear back from them. Thanks again.
Cliff – New code is now active and updated on the site. Thanks again for letting me know.
Loved your thorough article! I’m another cruise traveler but am fine with coverage while in port. We’re traveling from the US to Morocco (one week at sea) then hitting many of the small islands (Canary, Funchal, Azores) on our way around western Europe (Portugal, Spain, France, Northern Italy). I tried chatting with TEP Wireless and the agent mentioned very spotty service in the island areas and they didn’t answer the question about whether or not I need to pay for service for the week we’re at sea. (In their defence, I was in a hurry and didn’t re-ask the question)
What is your opinion regarding paying for the TEP Wireless daily use plan vs daily ATT phone charges while in Africa and switching to a European SIM plan once in mainland Portugal? Or did I miss the boat completely and you’ve the perfect solution (apologies for the pun).
Hi Jodi – Unfortunately if you rent a Teppy, I believe you’d have to pay for the service the entire time you rent it (which means the week you’re at sea). However, it’s worth a follow-up call to ask again. Maybe they’d send you the device early but only activate it and have you pay for the service after the cruise. It’s worth a shot asking.
You might want to consider Keepgo and buying one of their international SIM cards and just using it in your existing phone when you need it. Then you’re only paying per GB instead of per day, which might be a better fit for you for this trip.
Regarding TEP vs ATT… definitely not ATT. Their international plans are crazy expensive. I don’t mean to single out ATT either because in general, utilizing the international roaming with your US cellular plan is never usually a great choice. It’d be cheaper to buy a gig or two from Keepgo like I mentioned earlier. However, I do support getting a local SIM in Europe once you arrive in Portugal if you’ll be there a while because that would be your most affordable option. Just don’t buy it at the airport because they’re always like 10x the price. Wait until you go to a local store outside of the airport.
Does that advice help at all? Feel feel to reply back with additional questions if not.
Google Fi throttles data at 15GB. It seems to be 256kb. So, it is free data after paying $10/GB for the first 6GB, but any use over 15GB is throttled until the start of the next billing cycle.
Thanks for the info David. Do they give you the option of paying $10/GB beyond the first 6GB and NOT throttling?
I travel and live in India (Kashmir) and Nepal for 3-6 mos. a year. I work for most of that time and need the internet to connect with the program I use as well as clients. I can work up to 3+ hours a day but less at times…I have an indian sim but wifi is iffy in Kashmir particularly and my plan doesn’t provide much time on the hotspot. I am “older” and not incredibly tech savvy and there are so many programs/devices out there it is confusing as to which would be best for me? Can you help me out? it would be much appreciated. thanks in advance! robin
Hi Robin – One thing to keep in mind is that these international hotspots are going to connect to the same towers that your local carriers are using. The international providers are merely renting their usage through roaming agreements. So if the areas you are traveling don’t offer a high enough quality connection, chances are that the international hotspots listed on this page are going to offer similar connection speed. The caveat to that statement is that there are often multiple sets of towers from different local providers in each area, so the international hotspots could potentially use the competitor towers which might be better. I don’t have a way of knowing though, so I wanted to provide realistic expectations.
The other bad news is that none of the carriers listed above offer service in Nepal, so you’d still be limited to working with whatever local carrier you use now. There is often overlap because the geographic coverage of these international hotspot companies because their coverage relate directly to roaming agreements. If for some reason, Nepal doesn’t offer international roaming availability at this time, then none of the major providers are going to offer service there. If anyone does first, it’ll be one of the companies on this list.
I think your best option is to continue with local carriers and go with an unlocked hotspot that you can use in any general hotspot device, which I’m unfortunately not familiar with enough to recommend one in particular. They’re pretty simple devices so most would do the trick – as long as they’re unlocked and not specific to a carrier. Please let me know if you have any more questions, or alternatively what solution ended up being best for you so that others reading this can benefit from your research. Thank you!
Hi, I am planning a year long family trip ‘around the world.’ We will spend quite a bit of time across Europe, the Middle East, Asia & Australia as well as some time in the US and Haiti. During this time, my children will be attending school via distance learning – they need approximately 4 – 6 hours per day (3 – 4 days per week) of live video conferencing via Adobe Connect. Is there any service that can handle this without a bill the size of a mortgage?
Thanks so much for your help!
Hi Mike – Your year long trip sounds amazing. I love hearing about families having experiences like that.
Regarding your question about Adobe Connect video conferencing… I did some research on Adobe’s website and found this PDF where they breakdown bandwidth requirements for web video, but they don’t easily translate that into actual MB usage.
From case studies I’ve seen in the past, it takes about 150MB / hour for video conferencing, but that differs on the video resolution you’re using and on the service itself. So for you that’d be about 600-900 MB per day, which technically would keep you under the typical 1GB daily data cap on 4G data that most of these services have to employ because of their Fair Use Policies and roaming agreements. So perhaps something like the unlimited monthly plans with Skyroam and TEP Wireless would serve you best, assuming they cover the areas you’ll be traveling which you’ll want to check ahead of time.
If any of the video conferencing is being streamed on your phones, you might also look into a service like Speedify which bridges Wifi and Cellular connections together, but prioritizes Wifi. So that way you can connect to Wifi whenever possible, but if it’s not strong enough, the Cellular 4G signal will fill in the gaps so you don’t lose connection. But remember that’s only for when streaming on your cell or tablet that has both a Wifi receiver and a SIM card.
Just throwing some ideas out here because you’ll be consuming a lot of data, so a happy balance between Wifi and 4G might be best whenever possible. Please follow up if your research takes you in a different direction. I’d love to know what works best for your world schooling scenario so I can share the solution with other families in your shoes. Good luck!
Hi. I will be travelling the length of Japan, camping along the way for 3 months. I need a reliable internet connection for daily use of email/Skype and Google maps. Can you advise which option would be most suitable? Thanks!
Hi Ronny – That sounds like an amazing trip. I hope you have a great time! 3 months is a healthy amount of time to be in one country. Aside from my suggestions of hotspots, you may also want to consider a local prepaid plan (ie: buy a prepaid SIM from a local carrier after you arrive in Japan). That would typically be your least expensive option. These hotspots I mention are great and very convenient, but you pay a premium for the convenience. For a three month trip, it might be worth the time to buy a local SIM (whereas you wouldn’t want to take the time to do that on a short trip). Alternatively, I recommend going with either Skyroam or TEP Wireless and subscribing to their $99/month unlimited plans because that would be your least expensive route versus paying for a daily rate. (Look in the article above for my current discount codes.) However keep in mind that both of those services use hotspot devices. If you’d like to just replace your SIM card with an international one and use your phone for Internet in Japan, consider Keepgo. You pay per GB with Keepgo so you’d have to be mindful of your usage (especially with Skype) as opposed to Skyroam or TEP Wireless which offer the unlimited plans. All three of those services I just mentioned work in Japan. Good luck! Happy to answer any additional question if I can help.
Recommendations for Costa Rica? We are going for a week in May and need something to keep connected (mostly posting to Facebook, Instagram and playing movies, games and apps for my son’s Kindle during down time). The Air BnB has free Wifi but I am hoping for something for the travel to and from (about and hour and a half drive from airport). Also looking for Wifi calling and texting (iPhone messages) to check on the dogs back home.
Hi Michelle – If you’re looking to add Wifi Calling & Texting into the mix, sounds like TEP Wireless would be your best bet. Alternatively, you could use any hotspot on the list above (or connect to Wifi at your Airbnb) and use a Wifi phone/text service like Google Voice. Last option, Verizon Wireless and AT&T also have Wifi Calling/Texting as a free service with your plan, so if you use either of them, that may be worthwhile. If you’re not familiar with the feature, it basically means that you can call and text when you don’t have service from any device connected to Wifi. If you did that route, you’d want to turn off Mobile Data on your phone and just connect via Wifi. Then your calls and texts would still work. Just be sure to contact either company ahead of time incase they need to activate the feature on your account and/or phone. If hypothetically you had TEP Wireless or any of those other hotspot devices, you’d be connecting to them via Wifi, so the Verizon Wireless or AT&T Wifi Calling/Texting would work the same. Just throwing that out there because maybe you don’t actually need the “Wifi Texting / Calling” that TEP Wireless offers if you use AT&T or Verizon. Have a great time on your trip!
Hi, Do you have a TEP Wireless discount code that works? When I enter: A7YKMS7Z10 it says it’s an invalid code.
Hey Julie – Thanks for bringing it to my attention that the code is no longer active. I messaged TEP Wireless to renew it. I’ll update this post at the time, but also made note to e-mail you directly. Thanks again.
Julie – New code is now active and updated on the site. Thanks again for letting me know.
Thanks for this super helpful Article! My gf and I are both designers and are planning to travel in our SUV and freelance on the go. Therefore wifi is one of the main things that we need to figure out. At the moment it does seem like Skyroam or TEP are the best options since they have a flat rate for unlimited. I can def do more research into this but any more information or personal preferences/reasons that you can provide may help us make a decision too. Maybe you know of other freelance designers whoa re in the same position? What are they using? We will be in South America to start (probs for the first year) then may end up somewhere else. Nothing is planned that far ahead but we do know for sure that we will be traveling and designing so wifi is crucial. Looking forward to your response and insight!
Thanks MJ – glad the article was helpful. Your travel plans sound awesome, but I’ve got a soft spot for Central and South America. I’ve spent most of the last 5 years there, minus a few months in the Philippines. Don’t skip Ecuador! Regarding hotspots, I think that you’re spot on that TEP Wireless or Skyroam would be good options because of their unlimited plans. Sounds like you’d be using a lot of data like me. Keep in mind too that if you were to buy a device with Skyroam, you don’t have to do the unlimited plan forever. You could certainly do that when you need it, and then just activate it for daily usage other times. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time in Central/South America than you may also find it best to use a combination of these devices for convenience, and then local SIM cards other times if you’re going to be spending a significant amount of time in one country. That’s what I do. Good luck with your trip! Keep in touch on my Facebook.
Interested in a mobile hotspot (MiFi/WiFi) but concerned about the locations I visit such as the Philippines and Thailand. What type of coverage can one get being the network so slow there? I need to be able to access or have the ability to stream either music or movies.
Good question. The Philippines was harder for me in some areas. The thing is with these international hotspots is that your coverage with them will only be as good as your coverage with local carriers, because they’re roaming off the local towers. So many areas of the Philippines and Thailand are great, other smaller islands aren’t as good. It’s too hard to generalize an entire country when it really comes down to the specific areas you’ll be using the device. Wish I could offer more guidance here, but predicting coverage is nearly impossible. The countries you mentioned are covered by most of the hotspots on my list, but individual results may vary depending on how rural you’ll be traveling. Good luck and enjoy your trip!
So I’m headed to Iceland next week and will need to be doing some work while I’m there. We’ll be caravanning and camping around the island and as a designer, I’ll be designing posts, editing images and other products and will need a solid connection to my google drive as that’s my server. What would you recommend for the week that can help me stay connected and productive while out in the middle of nowhere. I’m open to either renting or buying as I do have an agency and this hotspot could come in handy for future trips.
Hi Rob – I hope I’m catching you in time before your trip, or if not, that you found a great solution from the info in my post. Skyroam and TEP Wireless have been my two most popular options, and both work in Iceland. The concerning part is when you say “while out in the middle of nowhere.” Any of the hotspot companies, including those two, share towers via roaming agreements with the local Iceland wireless provides. So they will work where there is service provided by the local companies, but can’t magically make a signal appear otherwise. Your best bet would be to look up the coverage maps of Iceland wireless providers and see if they offer 4G or 3G coverage where you’re going to be. If so, there’s a good chance that one of the bigger hotspot providers will work there too. However, at that point, you could just buy a prepaid SIM from one of the local Iceland wireless providers and use your phone as a hotspot. “Middle of nowhere” is hard. Hopefully in the future Elon Musk will put all those satellite dishes in the sky and provide worldwide global satellite access, but until then my friend… we’re stuck with the coverage we’ve got in the middle of nowhere. Have a great trip!
Hello! I am currently planning a trip to Nigeria (Africa) for 2- 3 months and I am in need of a good wifi. While in Nigeria, I need to be able to work remotely, Skype calling and school work. Between TEP Wireless and Skyroam, which of the 2 would you suggest and what plan do you feel with it’s best for my need.
Hey Jill – Sorry I’m seeing your comment so late. I think that either would be fine for your needs. Both offer similar service areas in Nigeria and pricing structure. Perhaps if any of TEP’s features standout for you, they might be the way to go. Or if Skyroam’s new Solis X is attractive for it’s camera, then that. But if just for Internet service, either should do the trick. Have you already chosen one? And if so, just out of curiosity, which did you end up going with? I hope you enjoy your trip to Nigeria!
Hi Paul – Thanks for the helpful article. Quick question, I will be in Paris and Amsterdam for a total of about 6 days and was exploring renting a hotspot to use for wifi, directions, texting etc. It seems as though the Skyroam rental hotspot is the best option especially since you can connect multiple devices. What do you think? Thanks in advance!
Hi MD – I think that Skyroam would work just fine for you especially if you’re looking at connecting multiple devices. Perhaps their unlimited daily for the week would serve you well. I hope you have an amazing trip!