Disclaimer: Vision Global WiFi sponsored us to try their pocket wifi rental service on our California road trip, and has kindly provided a 15% discount for my readers. However, this partnership was only agreed after we had already chosen to use their service based on our comparative research, and all opinions are our own.
When we decided to go on a 19-day road trip through California in a mini-RV, one of the challenges that arose was how to stay connected on the road. Not having a SIM card or other existing internet setup in the US, we needed to find a way to have our own wifi as travelers on-the-go. After comparing the different options available to us, we chose a pocket wifi rental from Vision Global WiFi.
Obviously, as digital nomads, it’s important for us to have internet access wherever we go to be able to keep up with work. But beyond that, during the trip we often changed our plans, and we needed to have access to the internet to do so.
Being able to use Google Maps for navigation, Booking.com or AirBnB to book accommodation on those nights we didn’t spend in our van, and TripAdvisor to find a nice place to eat was really helpful. Our pocket wifi rental saved us a few times from getting lost or missing top sights! It also allowed us to stay in touch with friends and family around the world.
So, even though we found the US to have, ironically, some of the worst mobile connectivity in the world (!), it allowed us to stay connected during most of our trip while travelling across California.
What is the Vision Global WiFi pocket wifi and how does it work?
The Vision Global WiFi pocket wifi is a small device that creates a wifi network via a mobile data connection. You can then connect all of your electronic devices to it (including phones, laptops, tablets, etc.) as if it were a regular wifi network at home or in a coffee shop.
Anywhere where there is a mobile data connection via 3G or 4G available, the device will be able to connect you to the internet.
Why did we choose this pocket wifi rental option?
Vision Global WiFi has several competitors, both in the US and globally. After assessing the different options carefully, this turned out to be by far the best-priced and most convenient one for the period we needed it.
Not having a data limit was also important to us, and not every pocket wifi rental offers this.
What are the different options available in the US?
The portable wifi device comes in different variations, allowing you to choose between different network providers and data packages. In the US, the options are either T-Mobile or Verizon.
The T-Mobile version is slightly cheaper and comes with true unlimited data, while Verizon’s network has better coverage in remote parts of the country.
Since we use a lot of data, between Camille’s Instagram and Bauke’s YouTube, we opted for the unlimited data package from T-Mobile. Even though we didn’t have coverage everywhere on our trip, we still managed to use it often enough for our needs.
We definitely made the most of the unlimited data plan. A little counter on the screen shows you how much you’ve used. This is mainly useful for those who have a limit of course, but ours indicated well over 50GB by the end of our three-week trip. The Verizon version is only available with 500MB or 1GB per day of high-speed internet. After that, your speed will be limited.
How much does a pocket wifi rental from Vision Global WiFi cost?
At the time we rented the device, in March 2019, the T-Mobile pocket wifi rental cost $6 per day while the Verizon version was $8 per day for 500 MB and $10 per day for 1GB. There are discounts for longer term rentals, with prices going as low as $1.66 per day after the first 30 days.
Check out the Vision Global WiFi website for the exact pricing based on your preferred rental period, and get 15% off.
Would we recommend a pocket wifi rental over just getting a local SIM card?
If, like us, you regularly need to work during your trip and you have multiple people with multiple devices that all need internet, a pocket wifi rental is definitely a lot more convenient than a local SIM card.
The battery of the pocket wifi device lasts a lot longer than a phone’s, and the device can even be used as a portable power bank for your phone.
Not having to worry about our data usage was also a very big pro for us, as in some cases your data package could be very small when going for a SIM card instead.
How to pick up and return your Vision Global WiFi device?
There are three convenient pick-up solutions available to travelers.
You can choose to pick up the device at several airports in Japan or at the LA international airport in the US.
Alternatively, you can have it mailed to the US address of your choice (e.g., your accommodation at your first destination).
If you are starting your trip in LA, like us, you could even go by their office and pick up the device directly there. This option is free, while the others cost a few dollars.
After your trip, you can easily mail the device back. Vision Global WiFi will give you a pre-stamped, pre-addressed box to simply fold together and drop in any local mailbox of your choice. Alternatively, you can return it at the airport again.
How to use the pocket wifi device?
Using the Vision Global WiFi pocket wifi device for internet access is extremely easy. There is absolutely no setup or configuration required at all. The wifi name and password are printed on the hotspot, so all you need to do is connect your own phones, laptops, or other electronic devices to it. It is recommended not to connect more than 5 devices at the same time.
All you need to do with the device is make sure you charge the battery. It uses a standard micro-USB cable, so is easy to charge anywhere. A wall charger and cable are included in your package.
Luckily for us, the van we used on our road trip came with built-in USB ports, so we could easily keep the device charged. If your car doesn’t have this, a 12V car port to USB adapter can be bought in almost any shop for under $5.
So, if you’re going on a short trip in one of the 130+ countries supported by Vision Global WiFi, consider picking up one of these devices. Especially if you work online like us, it’s convenient, fast, and comes with a lot of data (unlimited in our case, but it varies and you can choose according to your needs!).
How do you stay connected on your international travels? Let me know in the comments below!
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