Journal

How To: Get Around Bad Internet Connections Abroad!

One of every digital nomad’s biggest nightmares is logging in to your laptop to make a deadline with a client, only to find that the internet connection is the slowest you’ve ever encountered.

Unfortunately, avoiding a bad internet connection completely is next to impossible when you’re travelling, but there are ways you can get around this obstacle. Below, we’ve listed our best tips for always getting around bad internet when you’re abroad - so you can always meet your deadlines no matter what!

1. Do Your Research

If the ability to connect to the internet is absolutely essential for you to be able to do any work, then doing your research on your next destination is the most sensible thing you could do. Not all countries are equipped for the remote working lifestyle, and some locations will have poor internet connection no matter where you go so please bear this in mind; not all locations are made equal when held up against a remote workers needs. 

Do your research on your next potential destinations, ask other remote workers, and make sure that you’ll be able to get connected before you decide to go there. The luxury of working on the road full-time does come with sacrifices, but that’s better than losing your clients due to no internet connection! If you're looking for a little help, check out some of our Top 3 destinations articles; we've had a look at South America, Europe, and a little bit of Asia.

2. Find Designated Working Areas

You may get somewhere and find the WiFi in your accommodation is shockingly poor. Of course, this can happen and besides from complain, there’s not a whole lot you can do about that. However, you can find designated working spaces in your area, such as coworking spaces, internet cafes and spaces that are recommended as working cafes etc. These spaces will often be far more equipped for your internet needs and can save you the frustration that comes with a slow hotel connection that becomes even worse because you have to share it with all other the guests.

3. Use a SIM card

You have two options when it comes to SIM cards when abroad:

  1. Use a worldwide data SIM, which will allow you access to up to 188 countries provided your phone is unlocked.

  2. Buy a local SIM card when you arrive at your new destination, and top it up with a data plan. Depending on where you are, this is typically a very cost-effective option and will give you great access to data with a local phone provider.

4. Use a Pocket WiFi

Pocket WiFis, or WiFi routers, are a compact device that you insert a SIM card inside, and it gives you internet wherever you are in the world - with the ability to use both your phone, laptop, and any other devices through connecting to the device.

As above, you can opt to use a worldwide SIM, or a local SIM card - you may get better rates depending on where you are so it’s a good idea to do a little research first. Pocket WiFis are a great way to get around bad internet as they enable you to have a private connection to the internet, and you can choose the SIM based on your location.

5. Pack an Ethernet Cable

For worst cases where you have no other options but to deal with a poor internet connection, having an ethernet cable on hand can be a great way to boost your connection to the WiFi. An ethernet cable will cost you around $5, but really increases your connection to WiFi if it’s wavering in your accommodation, so throw one of these in your bag in case of emergencies!

6. Tricks of the Trade

Sometimes, you’re stuck with bad internet no matter what you do. In these cases, there are a few tricks you can use to boost the speed of the internet and help you get your work done quicker. A few of these tricks include:

  • Plug your laptop in. Working without your laptop plugged in will usually cause your device to reduce the strength of your wireless card, so simply plugging your laptop in may boost your chances of connecting to the internet.
     

  • Use basic HTML or mobile version of websites. These versions often have less data that needs loading, and therefore will be quicker to load and use than the standard web page. If it’s taking you hours to simply open a website, this is a useful trick to get access to the information you need quicker.
     

  • Shut off background apps. Apps are a huge drain on what internet connection you do have when you’re trying to get online, so make sure you’ve shut these off in order to get online faster. Background apps that you probably have running constantly behind the scenes include Skype, Dropbox, Evernote etc.


Overall, avoiding bad internet when abroad all comes down to planning and preparation. Make sure you do some research on your next destination so you know whether to expect poorer connectivity or not - and if you know you’ll be in an area where WiFi connection is a little trickier, make sure you have your pocket wifi or local SIM handy to hotspot your phone if necessary.

If you keep these tips in mind, you should be able to tackle even the worst internet at times - meaning you can keep your clients, meet your deadlines, and enjoy travelling to new destinations all at once!

Happy Travels!


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Yaz Purnell is a copywriter and social media manager, and has been loving the remote working lifestyle since the beginning of 2017. When she’s not sharing her best tips on making working on the road a sustainable, enjoyable adventure, Yaz loves getting outdoors and finding new and exciting experiences to have in every new destination.