Going overseas is incredible. I don’t need to tell anyone how great it is to experience new cultures, explore the world and eat great food. I do think that an oft overlooked reason for why it’s great is that you get to leave your life behind for a week or two. Cut the cord. Go off the grid. When else can you be unavailable via phone, text, email and it be considered completely okay? I love that aspect of travel and think it’s important to take breaks from all the connectedness that our world affords us.
I am a technophile and an information addict. I’m used to getting answers instantly when I have a question. I feel safe being just about anywhere knowing that I can navigate my way home with the device in my pocket. Managing without the internet for two weeks would not be a problem as I grew up before ubiquitous connectivity was a thing. I actually even love analog maps. So why not just do some extra planning and write some locations down in advance and go from there?
Because vacations should be relaxing.
It’s not because I need all the answers at my fingertips all the time. It’s not because I can’t use a map or refuse to talk to people. It’s because things happen. Situations arise where not having the internet turns an inconvenience into a major stress point. When I’m on vacation, I’d like to avoid stress as much as possible. Actually, that goes for when I’m not on vacation too.
Enter the Tep.
Before our last trip, Michelle and I did some research on portable Wi-Fi devices that worked abroad. We settled on the Tep Wireless device because it seemed like a reasonable cost for what we’d be getting out of it: travel insurance.
The device costs about $10 a day. You pay in advance and are allotted a number of 24-hour passes. When you tell it to use one of your days, it starts a countdown and then shuts itself off. You get unlimited access to the internet during this period through Wi-Fi, though they will throttle you if you exceed a certain amount of data usage. Throttling is a method used by internet providers to limit how fast your connection can be. It’s sort of like having your internet connection go back in time five years.
Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a way to buy 3 days of internet but have the device for a 2 week trip (That’s a game-changing service, Tep—so get on it). I’d happily pay a small rental fee to have the device, and a heavier fee to actually access the internet.
Things you’ll use the Tep for:
- Circumventing a taxi strike with Uber at 4am. (Ironically, said taxi strike was because of Uber)
- Figuring out mass transit from the comfort of a bar.
- Buying plane tickets on a bus when you miss your flight to Paris.
- Locating an amazing cocktail bar in Barcelona at 12:17am.
- Navigating the winding streets of Rome toward your next negroni.
- Locating a solid breakfast in Stockholm while wandering the streets at 5am before your 10am flight after an all night layover.
- Googling “dogs per capita Barcelona” because wow.
Free Wi-Fi spots are becoming more and more common, but I really appreciated knowing that if I needed the internet, I could get it. Right there, right then.