At heart, I would consider myself someone who loves to be prepared! And even more so, I love to research things! I’m always searching for random things on Google…from skincare solutions, to health remedies, I’m ALWAYS Googling. When it came time to plan my Italy trip, I started really getting into the logistics of going out of the country since it was my first time traveling internationally since I was little. Like I said before, I LOVE to be prepared. As such, I knew not having access to my phone or internet (especially as a small business owner!) was going to be a no-go for me. First I checked with our phone service provider (we have Sprint) but the roaming charges for international travel were OUTRAGEOUS. I’m talking in the thousands of dollars for any type of basic internet usage. I didn’t want to spend that much for a weeks’ travel, so I started searching for other options. A lot of people will buy an international SIM card when they travel, but that’s not really an option for Sprint users, so I kept looking.
I ended up deciding to go with a personal mifi device from Tep Wireless. You can rent them and use them for wifi wherever you go on your trip rather than trying to pick up cell service! I rented mine a couple weeks in advance, they mailed it to me, and it arrived about two days in advance of when I left on my trip. That part was super easy! I couldn’t test it before I went because it was set up to work in Italy, but I had no issues getting it started almost as soon as our plane touched down. Service was decent most of the time, but we were mostly in major cities the entire duration of the trip. When using it on the train, I noticed in more rural areas coverage was a bit more spotty, but it wasn’t a big deal.
One of the best things about the tep mifi was being able to connect multiple devices to it! My friend and I were both able to connect our phones to it so we could check emails, iMessage friends and family, etc. I even used it to call John via FaceTime audio. The call quality was surprisingly great! Even clearer than regular phone calls we make to each other when we’re in the same city!
A lot of what I read online about the tep mifi device said that it only really lasted 4-5 hours before dying. I found that ours last closer to six or seven hours on one charge…and I had also paid to have a second battery with my rental, so we had that in case the original one died. I would also charge it using my Mophie sometimes too.
The main negative I had with the device was not realizing that unlimited internet really did NOT mean unlimited. A day or so into the rental, I got an email saying that we had used too much data and were in danger of having it cut off. Apparently we had used 405mb of data up to that point and the limit to the “unlimited” plan was 500. Whoops! Once I knew that and we made sure we weren’t streaming music or doing anything beyond regular web browsing, it was fine. But still, when you read unlimited, you usually think UNLIMITED. Right??
Anyway, I would definitely give it another try the next time I travel internationally! It was about $100 total and we split the cost between the two of us. It ended up being a lot cheaper than it would have been to roam with our phones instead!