I’m quick to agree that a stable internet connection shouldn’t be the focus of a family vacation, but last year had access to the Internet would have improved our trip immensely. While on vacation with my wife and kids, we repeatedly ran into an issue with the children’s iPads. They were out of Internet coverage area or couldn’t connect to the internet at all, so there was lots of complaining, tired whining and drawn-out drives that could have been improved with a stable connection.
That’s why I started researching portable wireless routers, and why I put together this guide on the subject. Since then I’ve chosen the best travel WiFi router, and it’s already improved a few day trips and I can’t wait to see how it enhances our next family trip.
What is a Portable WiFi Router?
A portable WiFI router is a special router that’s designed to offer an internet connection to multiple devices on the go. The product doesn’t take an internet connection from a modem and instead gets it from an internal SIM card, an ethernet port in a hotel room or internet through an open WiFi connection. The device can be carried around and used to connect up to 10 or more different devices to the internet at the same time.
These advanced routers often feature internal batteries and can be carried around for a wireless hotspot wherever you need it. They’re designed for simplicity and make bringing internet with you simpler than you might expect. These devices are often very compact and will slip into laptop cases, carry bags, backpacks and other compact storage containers with ease. Invest in one for access to the internet in most areas that you go where a stable WiFi connection isn’t present.
Some of these products are designed to attach to mobile networks, while others are meant to connect with more traditional wireless networks when traveling. It’s important to look closely at what networking capabilities are built into the device you are considering. Look at the available connectivity ports and only purchase a device that offers the capabilities you are interested in.
How Does a Portable WiFi Router Work?
A portable WiFi router works in much the same way as a standard router, it just gets its internet connection through a different means. A basic wireless router gets internet from a corded modem connection that’s supplied through the utility company you go through.
A portable WiFi router relies on a SIM card, an open wireless network or a publicly available wired connection in a place like a hotel room. Once an internet source is obtained, the router creates a secured network for you to access wirelessly with your different devices.
1. Connecting with a SIM Card:
To connect to the internet using a SIM card you need a SIM card modem. Fortunately, many portable routers available today come with a built-in SIM card modem, providing an all-in-one internet connection no matter how you are traveling.
There are many different phone carriers that offer internet access services today. Those providers offer SIM cards you can use to create your connection. Once connected you will enjoy access to the internet for all your devices as long as you don’t go through your supplied bandwidth limitation.
Most portable wireless router services come with bandwidth limitations, and the network that you go through will also limit where you can get a connection based on where their service towers are located. Some wireless routers are difficult to get set up properly, but portable models are simple and easy to use. Simply insert the SIM card and sign devices into the network using the included network information. It’s that easy.
2. Routers that Use a Wired Connection:
While most portable routers are designed to offer an internet connection through a sim card connection, there are others that will connect to a wired ethernet line just like a standard router does. These devices are still very small and portable, and they can be connected in hotel rooms with wired connections available to give you your own private wireless network. They’re simple to use, and often come with this function as well as supporting a sim card connection for a more versatile device overall.
When you shop for a portable wireless router, make sure you take the time to look at all the different features available. Look to see if the device accepts a sim card, but also find out if it will function as a wireless repeater or take a wired ethernet connection. Finding a device that does all of these things will help improve your traveling experience even more and can help ensure that you have a reliable internet connection everywhere that you go.
Why You Would Need a Portable WiFi Router:
A good portable wireless router is a versatile device that gives you access to the internet when you need it most. These little devices are simple to use and can be configured to work all over the country and even in other parts of the world. When you have one packed away you have a source of internet everywhere that you go, and for many people, that’s a real relief.
How to Choose a Portable Router?
Selecting the right portable router for your needs isn’t as simple as it might seem. There are several considerations that must be made to make the decision. First, think about what connections are available and whether you’ll utilize them or not.
If you want to create a small network from an ethernet cable in your hotel room, prioritize an ethernet port on the device. If you’re interested in getting a router to use as a repeater look for this function. If you want a product to get internet through a cell phone company make sure there is a SIM card slot.
Once you know the device has the ports and features you’re interested in, it’s time to make sure it’s going to offer you good reliable service. Mobile hotspot type portable routers with a sim card port should support 4G LTE internet, and they should be designed to work with GSM networks preferably because they are used in more locations around the world. A CDMA-style router will work as well but must be used exclusively with the few providers that rely on the technology.
Choose an AC standard router for maximum speeds and broadcast radius, and carefully select a device that comes equipped with an internal battery if you want to take your internet connection with you away from power sources.
There are also USB-powered devices you can attach to your Laptop or a portable battery bank to bring with you on the go. Choose the router you purchase carefully and make sure it has all the features that you need while being built on technology that works well. By making a careful selection you’ll end up with a router that you’re happy to use.
Why you need a Portable WiFi router?
1. Create your own Hotspot with Hotel Ethernet
There are some travel routers or portable routers that will accept a wired ethernet connection along with a sim card. These devices are useful for when you’re staying in hotel rooms that only offer wired internet connections, or in spaces where you have a wired connection available and you want higher speeds than what the shared WiFi can offer you. In these instances, you just attach your router to the available network connection and form your own little personal WiFi network. You can connect all your devices up to it and avoid the common issues that come with using a shared wireless network with all the people around you in the hotel.
Pack one of these routers in your travel bag with you everywhere you go and you’ll enjoy a more reliable connection everywhere. You can use the sim card connection while away from any available internet, and switch to a wired cable connection whenever you can to save on your data consumption.
2. Wireless HotSpot for a small workgroup
One of the most compelling reasons to invest in a portable wireless router is to complete important work tasks when out of the office. Some employees depend on a stable internet connection all throughout the day, and they require a product like a portable router to make that happen. With a good portable router, you and any nearby colleagues can connect to the internet without having to go to a special location for the internet. If you work on the road or are regularly traveling from one location to another, these devices can make you more productive overall.
3. Watch Netflix/Hulu with family
Entertaining children while on a family vacation isn’t as simple as it once was and many children today are looking for internet access on the go. If you’re trying to find a cost-effective way to provide them with internet access, a portable wireless router is often the best option. Sign up for a pre-paid wireless plan and bring the router along with you in the car, the hotel room, while camping or wherever you are going. You’ll enjoy a stable internet connection anywhere that you have decent service, and your children will be happy that they can still connect and use their services. Just make sure you watch your bandwidth carefully, especially if you’re on a plan with a lower data cap. You can go through your available data very quickly with streaming services like Netflix.
Throughout the trip monitor your bandwidth closely and encourage your children to avoid streaming in favor of online games, social media and less bandwidth demanding activities. It’s also possible to download media from services like Netflix at home before leaving for your trip so that some streaming can occur without any internet access at all. This is another worthwhile consideration for your trips.
4. Use Wireless devices outdoor with a SIM card router
Whether you’re retiring or just taking some time off to travel and get to know the world, it’s beneficial to have internet available to you to document your travels while away from home. A portable WiFi router will make this possible and more convenient than ever. You can upload your photos, check your email, talk with other people and more with your hotspot connection. With so many different providers available today it’s simpler than ever finding a reputable network to work with. Find the right mobile network, or networks for you and bring the internet with you all around the country, even when standard internet connections aren’t available. When standard connections are available you can use your router to help secure your connection and enjoy more protection while traveling.
5. Buy a local SIM card for your Wireless needs on International vacation
Some countries are better than others for supplying WiFi hotspots in public areas. If you’re traveling and you don’t know all the local spots to go for internet, or you just want access for communicating while abroad, a portable wireless router can be a good device to have. You can invest in a prepaid wireless service plan available within the country you’re traveling in, and use the sim card from the provider while you are in the country. It’s a good way to get yourself more reliable internet access while there and could be your only source of internet in some situations. If you’re planning a trip for a week or more soon, you might want to look into your available internet options and a portable router to keep yourself connected while there.
There are almost as many different reasons to pack a portable wireless router as there are reasons to go traveling. When you have one of these little compact devices in your travel bag, you have access to the internet when you need it. They might cost you a bit more money to have this privilege, especially if you will be connecting in other countries or in areas without any available WiFi, but they’re good to have and are essential for travelers that need to work while on the go. Invest today and enjoy reliable internet service in more locations. Just make sure you get a router with the features you care about most before purchasing.