When I was recently in the French Alps, hiking I might add, my friend Erin replied to my email, “Stop emailing and keep your eyes on the path!” I had sent her this picture stating, “If you never hear from me again well….”.
OK, I like to stay connect when travelling to France. Who doesn’t? Emailing friends and family, looking up directions, searching for a great restaurant for dinner, or sharing photos and experiences through social media is all part of travelling for many of us and it’s much easier when we have easy access to the internet. But what’s even better is when you can do it without going broke.
Avoid Enormous Roaming Bills
There are scary stories of travellers using data on a trip and being surprised by enormous roaming bills. Even the international roaming plans from your mobile phone provider can be extremely expensive. With my home provider, a Europe Passport Plan (800MB data + 300 minutes voice + unlimited texts) costs $150. And if you go over, it becomes very costly. (ie. $5.00/30MB for data).
Yet for the past 4 years I have purchased a local (France) SIM card for my unlocked iPhone and it has been much cheaper (€20 or $28 for 1GB data. Calls within France would be €0.20 per minute and €0.38 for calls to North America). I did a lot of research and found the prices from the company Le French Mobile to have the best rates. I also liked how they would mail me my SIM card so I would have it upon arrival in France. It provided me with excellent phone and data service and was very easy to use.
BUT, I don’t like to do everything with my iPhone. The screen is too small for my blogging and I prefer to use my tablet or laptop. The solution? A mobile Wi-Fi hotspot (also known as a Mobile Wireless Device). It’s an incredibly lightweight, battery-powered Wi-Fi router that can fit in your pocket (75 grams or 2-5/8 ounces). It’s just like providing Wi-Fi to you when you are at home.
The company offered to provide me with a hotspot for my recent trip to France in exchange for a review. While I already liked the company’s products, I wanted to see if it would make my life easier “on the road”.
Here’s how I used it and how it helped me. As always my opinions and reviews are my own.
How I Used It
- The Huawei brand Mobile Hotspot arrived quickly and came with:
- a SIM card already inserted (1 GB for 30 days)
- a battery, charging cable and instructions in English
- I activated the SIM/Hotspot immediately upon arriving in France
- It was very convenient. Not all my hotels had free Wi-Fi and to be honest I don’t trust hotel Wi-Fi. With the hotspot, my internet connection was always secure as it was password protected. This is a major point when using hotel wifi which is not always encrypted. Hackers can create fake networks (ie. “Guest WiFi”) and if you sign in, all your data and communication becomes vulnerable.
- When I did connect my laptop to the regular hotel Wi-Fi, the internet was dreadfully slow and spotty. Sitting outside on the terrace with my hotspot however, I had excellent reception (mainly 3G) and sites loaded quickly.
- When I was high up in the French Alps I could easily connect with friends using social media and email. I really wanted to send a picture of the beautiful views.
- In 11 days I used up almost 1GB of data.
- If I needed more data, it would be “pay as you go”. As it is prepaid, there would be no “surprises”.
- LeFrenchMobile’s website is in English and their customer service was very helpful when I had a few questions
- I was actually surprised how long the battery lasted, averaging 6 hours. Recharging was fast through a USB cord (provided).
I loved it. It made connecting to the internet easy and reliable once I figured out how to initially connect and set up my account.
Few More Advantages of LeFrenchMobile Hotspot:
- You OWN the hotspot. You don’t have the nuisance of returning it. It is delivered free of charge with the SIM card already inserted and configured. Many companies offer hotspots but through a rental program (ie. 5 Euros a day with a small daily allowance of data). I can use this hotspot again on a future trip.
- With travel companions, up to 10 devices can be connected to this one hotspot, so the savings for everyone are even higher
- The data SIM card that comes with the hot spot is transferable. I could put it in an iPhone or iPad.
The information I have provided is accurate as of July 2016; however, you need to check out the LeFrenchMobile website to read about their plans and terms and conditions.