Can I Get Temporary Internet While on Vacation?

By Juliette Halliwell

Updated August 30, 2017

Stay in the loop while you soak up the sun.
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Even when you're thousands of miles away from home, it's possible to stay online during every second of your vacation thanks to devices such as smartphones, mobile hot spots, internet USB sticks and more. Most mobile carriers and internet providers offer a variety of products and plans to accommodate different styles of web surfing needs while abroad. Determine how much time you will be spending online, as well as what type of devices you will be using to access the web on your vacation, in order to find the best temporary internet option for your needs.

3G/4G USB Sticks

3G or 4G USB sticks are designed to provide internet access to a single laptop, netbook or any compatible device with a USB slot. Once purchasing the USB stick, you must pay for a particular data plan offered by the carrier in order to access the internet, either for a daily or a monthly fee. Once you've activated the plan and attached the stick to your computer, you can connect to the carrier's cellular network for internet access.

Mobile Hot Spots

Like 3G/4G USB sticks, mobile hot spot devices operate from a 3G/4G network, but they are capable of offering internet access to more than one Wi-Fi enabled device. For instance, after paying for a mobile hot spot device and the desired data plan, you can use a laptop or other device to connect to the network provided by the mobile hot spot via Wi-Fi. Most hot spots allow multiple devices to connect at the same time, so mobile hot spots are ideal devices for families traveling together.

Phone Tethering

Many smartphones can double as mobile hot spots if the phone is capable and the mobile carrier offers a hot spot service; this process is known as "tethering." Using a smartphone as a hot spot may also incur a charge in addition to the phone's mobile plan. Depending on the type of smartphone, you may be able to create the hot spot by directly connecting the phone to a laptop using a cable or wirelessly.

Free Wi-Fi Hot Spots

If you only want to use the internet minimally and are willing to travel, resources such as free Wi-Fi or internet cafes may be suitable to meet your needs. A growing number of hotels offer free Wi-Fi in-room or in the hotel lobby, or they may offer an Ethernet jack to physically connect a laptop to the internet. While these options are free, the disadvantage to using an internet source that you are not familiar with is that the connection may be unreliable and insecure, leaving you prone to hackers. If you opt for using a free public Wi-Fi network instead of a personal mobile-based network, never visit any websites – like your bank's –that display your confidential information and always log out of any personal accounts you visit.