Yesterday we kicked off our Labor Day Travel Tips for a Wireless World with four ways to find travel deals on Twitter.com.
Today’s Labor Day Travel Tip can help you stay productive and make money on the road by staying connected with portable wireless internet.
Scroll down for details.
Speaking of making money on the road, every once in a while we talk about copywriting in this e-letter. I like to bring it up because it’s the perfect compliment to travel writing. You can do it from anywhere. And you don’t have to be particularly skilled to learn how. All you have to know is how to write a simple letter to a friend. I’ll tell you more tomorrow.
Director, Great Escape Publishing
Portable Wireless Internet: How to Surf the Web from Anywhere
A few weeks ago, I called my mom from a tiny hotel in the Costa Rican cloud forest. But I didn’t use a phone. I called for free with my computer, using Skype. It was amazing to have internet at ALL, much less wireless internet fast enough to make phone calls… in a town you can only access by dirt road.
The truth is, you can find internet access virtually anywhere these days. Even when you travel to remote places. But to tap into it, you still need a hotel with Wi-Fi, or an internet café. And you’re never guaranteed that the connection will be good… or even work at all.
But imagine if you weren’t tied down to specific wireless “hot spots” and you could send stories to editors or upload your photos to stock agencies from anywhere you choose. Any camp site, restaurant, hotel, poolside, or parking lot.
In fact, you can. Here are three ways to get portable wireless internet:
** 1. CONNECT THROUGH YOUR CELL NETWORK
Forget seeking out the “WiFi Zone” logo in coffee shop windows. A number of cell phone companies now offer portable wireless internet anywhere in their coverage area.
You start by plugging a special modem into the USB port on your laptop. Then, you can surf the web wherever you have cell coverage — the U.S., Canada, and Mexico are often included. And many companies have coverage farther abroad, though roaming fees usually apply. Prices, access, and connection speed vary according to the plan you choose.
These cell companies all offer a portable wireless internet plan here in the States:
* Comcast – HighSpeed2go
* AT&T – USBConnect Mercury
* Sprint – 598U by Sierra Wireless
* T-Mobile – webConnect USB Laptop Stick
* Verizon – Mobile Broadband USB Modem
** 2. PUT A HOTSPOT IN YOUR POCKET
The MiFi, from Novatel, is a battery-powered portable wireless router that’s small enough to fit in your pocket. Much like a USB modem, it turns cell phone signals into wireless internet. But then it broadcasts the connection out to a 30-foot range. Up to five WiFi-ready devices can connect to the internet through it at once. It’s like having a little wireless router for you and your friends in your camper, at the café, at the airport… anywhere you go that gets coverage. This also can work internationally, though coverage and roaming fees vary according to your provider.
You can get one through Verizon, Sprint, Virgin Mobile, and a few other carriers.
A similar option for people who live in Atlanta, Las Vegas, or Portland, is the Clear network, which works much the same way, but only city-wide.
** 3. GO ALL-OUT: INTERNET ANYWHERE BUT ANTARCTICA
If you absolutely must have internet access wherever you go — and I mean anywhere but the tip of the Arctic and southern-most Antarctica — consider portable wireless internet through satellite.
It’s not cheap. But it works everywhere — even out at sea.
X SAT USA has a Thuraya XT satellite phone that connects to your laptop for internet browsing. And Ground Control has modem-sized devices that provide internet and phone service anywhere. Both systems work on rechargeable batteries.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]