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There are plenty of ways — with varying degrees of simplicity — to keep connected while traveling. You can buy a SIM each time you touch down in a new country; you can purchase a pre-paid international plan from your carrier or, if you’re on T-Mobile, you can even simply just boot up your smartphone anywhere in the world, shouldering the throttled speeds for the privilege of fee-free international data. On two recent trips (to Paris and to the UAE), I tried out one of the newest products that promises to let you stay connected while traveling the world: the Lifetime Mobile Hotspot from Keepgo, a global-data SIM provider.
The Lifetime Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot costs $130 and comes with 1GB of rollover data, letting you go online in more than 64 countries. With this device in hand, I was able to start using the internet shortly after deplaning in Paris. The device itself is compact enough to toss into a small bag, or even roomier pockets. Use this link to get 15% off a Keepgo hotspot (and data), bringing the cost of the hotspot down to $110.50, including ground shipping. Also, through October 14th, Keepgo is offering a discount on extra data when you buy 3GB or more, bringing the price down to $39 per GB.
Throughout my four days in the city, I relied on the hotspot when I needed to find directions on the go, and I turned it on while taking a break in the shade at the Tuileries. I was careful to turn off the device and turn Wi-Fi off on my smartphone each time I was done with it, as I didn’t want to waste that 1GB. When I was back in my room at Le Merdien Etoile in Paris, I used the hotel’s Wi-Fi to save data as well, though the hotspot’s connection was much faster.
The biggest downside is that the hotspot can be pretty slow to connect to your devices; after pressing the power button on the device and seeing that my phone had connected to the corresponding Wi-Fi network, it often took several minutes before I was able to load a browser or check my email. Another hiccup: On two separate occasions, a Keepgo glitch resulted in a notification saying I’d used all of my data when I clearly hadn’t. Both times, the issue was resolved within an hour after contacting customer service, but if I’d needed to find directions or send an email urgently, this would have been a huge nuisance.
It’s not perfect, but I’d still recommend the Keepgo hotspot to anyone looking for an easy way to stay connected overseas. It’s not the only viable option though; the same company sells global SIM cards that will work in all the countries you specify, and Knowroaming offers a convenient sticker that goes on your SIM and works in much the same way (and, similarly, can be fairly buggy). Finally, if you’re a T-Mobile customer, you have the luxury of immediate, cost-free connectivity around the globe — with the caveat of slower speeds, but you can’t top the convenience. Google’s Project Fi is an option as well, with data available in 120+ countries for $10 per GB, but you’ll need to sign up for monthly service and use a specific phone.