In our hyperconnected world having access to the Internet, mapping technology and communication is commonplace. This all changes when we venture overseas. I’m sure we’ve all had that moment when we’re travelling and thought “I’ll just turn my International Roaming on for a few seconds” only to get slapped with a huge bill so quickly it’s dizzying. There is a way to avoid these data fees though.
Stay connected overseas with a MiFi device
One of my favourite ways to stay connected overseas if by renting a MiFi device, or portable Internet device. I own one in Australia, bought one when I travelled across Canada and have rented them in Singapore, Japan and South Korea.
Unlike fiddly SIM cards, a MiFi device will connect to any device with a WiFi connection, much like a home Internet connection would. As the MiFi devices are portable it means you aren’t bound to your hotel. I’ve used MiFi devices to catch up on work while travelling on Japan’s bullet trains, to post social media updates while on a glacier in Canada and on road trips in even the remotest parts of Australia.
For city travellers, I find MiFi’s are a great tool to assist you navigate cities. That’s why I was keen to rent a 4G MiFi when I visited Singapore.
Staying connected in Singapore
When I arrived at my hotel I was informed that a package was waiting for me. Inside was the pre-booked Rentafi device, charging tools and a guide on how to operate the device. I didn’t see the guide but with the device was similar to mine at home and I had it ready to go in time for dinner in one of Singapore’s Supertrees.
With the device slipped into my clutch I could easily access emails, social media accounts and even send my Mum an iMessage from the bar at the top of the Supertree that has a seriously impressive view.
When I was in the van, public transport or had a few minutes to myself I could quickly respond to friends Facebook messages, blog comments and tweets. Perfect!
It also saved me when I got lost in the MacRitchie Reservoir. I made a wrong turn at the end of the MacRitchie Tree Top Walk and ended up on the opposite side of the trail from where I was meant to be. As the track was one big loop I decided to keep walking the way I was instead of turning back. Wrong decision.
It wasn’t until 2 hours later and I’d made the very very long walk and found Vava Bistro (where I promptly knocked back two glasses of water and a lime juice), I realised that I was still quite a long way from where the driver was meant to pick me up from, did I use the pocket WiFi device to email for help!
I was pretty impressed with the battery life. The device I use in Australia only holds charge for 4-6 hours of continual use, but the Huawei device that Rentafi use (pictured above) lasted nearly a full-day (8-10 hours) as I explored Singapore and significantly longer than my poor iPhone’s battery could last.
The only limitation of MiFi devices is that a limited number of people can connect (for most, this is 5 or 6 devices) so for big families or groups consider renting two!
When I checked out of the hotel I repacked the device, charger and guide into the original box and left it at the Concierge desk for the Rentafi team to pick up.
How does it compare cost wise?
While some hotels, such as the Parkroyal on Pickering, offer complimentary WiFi to guests this isn’t the case for all hotels. Some hotels charge upwards of S$20 per device for slow WiFi with limited download speed. Not cool.
Rentafi devices the device doesn’t provide free calls or messaging but it allows you to use your laptop, tablet or mobile to make Skype VoIP or messaging apps, like WhatsApp, and come with unlimited data. A Rentafi MiFi device costs S$15 p/day (minimum of 3 days) + S$10 delivery charge.
As it’s a portable device. If you need to get some work done outside of the hotel, want to be protected should you get lost like I did at MacRitchie Reservoir or even if you just want to stay connected without the international data charges then a MiFi device is a small investment to make on your next international trip.
Now it’s over to you
Have you tried using a MiFi device?
How do you keep connected when travelling?
Cost: S$15 p/day (minimum of 3 days) + S$10 delivery charge.
A S$200 refundable deposit is also held on your card providing you return the device with no damage.
Notes: Devices can be delivered to hotels or private residential properties (eg. airbnb rentals or family/friends houses)
Rentafi provided me with a complimentary device while visiting Singapore.
All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.