Although traveling for work might be a pipe dream for some small business owners, doing business on-the-go is becoming more and more common.
In fact, business travel is at an all-time high as entrepreneurs realize just how much they can get done away from home.
But it’s next to impossible to make any business trip worthwhile without a solid Internet connection.
Listen: Wi-Fi isn’t just a luxury for folks traveling on business.
It’s a lifeline.
However, some destinations and means of travel make it difficult to tap into a speedy, steady Wi-Fi connection.
That’s exactly why we put together this guide on finding Wi-Fi no matter where you might be traveling to.
How to Stay Connected On-the-Go
In this guide, we’ll break down some essential tips and tricks to ensure you’re not dealing with sketchy, snail-paced Wi-Fi when you’re on your next business trip. Whether it’s a weekend outing or week-long business vacation, any combination of these tips is fair game.
1. Map Out Your Trip
A little bit of preparation can go a long way toward keeping you connected.
Simply mapping out a schedule can help you determine where you can stop in and get a few hours of work done or hop on a call.
You might be surprised at just how many places offer free, no-strings-attached Wi-Fi these days, including…
- Coffee shops (including chains such as Starbucks)
- Chain restaurants (Panera Bread, McDonald’s, etc.)
- Malls, shopping centers and food courts
- Hotel lobbies
- Convention centers
- Airports and train stations
- Public libraries
While your hotel or Airbnb might have Wi-Fi, it’s always a good idea to have a few backup locations in mind. You can quickly scout locations on Google Maps based on where you’re staying to see what options are in walking or driving distance.
You can also double-check individual locations and their reviews to ensure that they’re friendly to folks working remotely.
2. Try a Wi-Fi App
Your smartphone can be your not-so-secret weapon for staying connected to Wi-Fi while traveling.
Planning out your trip is a good start, but these apps can be life-savers when you’re in a pinch and need to find a connection ASAP.
Wi-Fi Map is exactly what it sounds like: a real-time map of nearby mobile hotspots. Such an app is great if you’re taking a detour from your travel plans or realize that your initial destination doesn’t have the best connection.
Fon offers pay-per-use access to their network of millions of Wi-Fi hotspots exclusive to Fon users.
For example, you can pay-per-hour, per-day or connect for longer durations if you’re stuck somewhere truly remote. You can use the app’s map to double-check hotspots prior to paying to ensure that your area is covered.
Instabridge is an awesome app that does double duty of highlighting hotspots near you as well as passwords and up-to-date Wi-Fi status.
Some public locations will have multiple networks (secured and unsecured) which have varying levels of strength and security. Likewise, some networks go down or frequently change their passwords which can be a pain for out-of-towners.
With Instabridge, you can give yourself some much-needed peace of mind prior to settling down somewhere to work.
3. Bring a Hotspot with You
If you’re tired of worrying about “what-if” situations and fiddling with public Wi-Fi, we totally understand.
As an alternative, you can try out services which provide you with mobile hotspots you can take with you anywhere.
For example, services like Skyroam are all the rage right now. Paying either a daily or monthly fee, you gain access to a small, portable hotspot that you keep with you whenever you need Internet during a trip.
The explainer video below breaks down the basics.
You can also look into services such as Connectify which turns your actual laptop or PC into a mobile hotspot. Although these services aren’t free, they’re insanely convenient when traveling on business and don’t require to worry about carrying around another device.
Some cell phone providers also provide mobile hotspots depending on your subscription and data plan – definitely worth looking into if you’re already paying top dollar for cell service!
How to Deal with a Crummy Connection
Let’s say you’re traveling on business and are suddenly hit with a dreaded “unable to connect” message.
Don’t lose hope, though. Poor or unstable connections don’t mean that you can’t get work done – you might just have to do a bit of troubleshooting to take care of the issue. Below are some common fixes for crummy Wi-Fi on-the-go.
1. Double-Check Your Connection
This tip is a two-way street.
Although this might seem like a no-brainer, don’t just connect the first network you see when accessing public Wi-Fi. Beyond staying safe on public Wi-Fi, sticking to secured networks mean you’re using the strongest available connection.
Many public places will have multiple networks to choose from: it might take some trial-and-error to find the best one. This is why apps such as Instabridge are helpful as you can look at real-time data on the quality of any given connection.
If where you’re staying has less-than-stellar Wi-Fi, you can test your hotel Wi-Fi to ensure that you’re getting the connection you’re actually paying for. Connectivity issues might very well be on their end and something you definitely shouldn’t have to suffer through.
2. Try Tethering
Tethering is often a sort of “last resort” for Wi-Fi connectivity, but it can certainly get the job done.
Most phones offer the ability to tether – this basically turns your phone into a mobile hotspot. The only downside of tethering is that it typically eats up your mobile data and phone battery at the same time.
That said, if you’re already paying for a high data plan or have no other good options available, it’s better than nothing. Tethering works best as a stopgap measure when you only need Internet access for an hour or so before you find a better connection.
And while almost all phones are capable of tethering, you should test out your network before assuming that it works. The process of connecting is fairly straightforward and can be found in your phone’s Settings app, either labeled “Tethering” or “Portable hotspot.”
3. Always Have a Backup Plan
We really can’t stress enough how being prepared is key to staying connected.
Hotels, airlines and airports can promote their “lightning fast” Wi-Fi until they’re blue in the face.
However, that doesn’t mean you’re totally immune to connectivity issues.
That’s why it’s so important to have multiple back-up plans and locations available to you.
To help you stay prepared, we recommend this updated list of airport Wi-Fi passwords to help you stay connected during your next layover. Likewise, this up-to-date guide to in-flight Wi-Fi can help you temper your expectations prior to paying for Intenet during a flight.
With these tips and resources handy, you have pretty much all of the options available to you to ensure that a solid connection is just a few taps away!
How Do You Stay Connected While Traveling?
Here at vcita, we want to empower entrepreneurs no matter where they might be doing business.
And that includes on-the-go!
We hope this list opened your eyes to the options available to you when it comes to staying connected during your next business trip. Safe travels and stay busy!