By Danielle Sheridan
I travel throughout Europe frequently enough that I’ve tried many different options for staying connected while abroad. I’ve changed my regular phone plan to include an international plan, which cost an arm and a leg and only allowed for a small amount of data. I’ve bought a new SIM card in Italy which ended up costing more in the end than what it was worth. I’ve tried connecting to public WiFi which was unreliable and slow. I’ve purposely spent extra time in coffee shops and cafes to surf the internet or to catch up with family back home. In the end, these options end up being either expensive, or take time out of my day, which I could be using to explore more of where I am.
Traveling is great — and having a reliable internet connection makes it even easier.
I thought I had exhausted all of my options until a friend told me about how he was getting a pocket WiFi for his next trip. I decided to look into a pocket WiFi hotspot myself to see if it could be beneficial for my trip to Austria. Turns out, pocket WiFi was just what I needed. It is a portable WiFi hotspot that you can connect your cell phone, tablet, or computer to, the same way that you would connect to a regular WiFi network. The small size allows you to bring the internet practically anywhere you go. I researched a few different options, and TEP Wireless stood out to me as the best option for a portable WiFi in Europe because of their reliability, ease of use, and reasonable price for unlimited internet with their device that they nicknamed “Teppy.”
Meet Teppy – our third wheel while we were in Austria!
Now, you may be wondering – isn’t it nice to just disconnect while on vacation? 100% YES! However, if you’re anything like me, just knowing you constantly have WiFi is great for peace and mind and let be honest.. you can’t stay away from social media for too long. Our Teppy ended up helping us so much throughout our two week trip in Austria – let me share some ways how…
Having our Teppy really helped us all throughout Austria, from Vienna to Innsbruck.
When we rented a car, we were able to rely on our phone’s GPS instead of the car’s GPS. This might sound silly, but it was one of the driving forces (no pun intended!) behind checking out a portable WiFi hotspot. We wanted to use our phone’s GPS when driving through the country. When renting a car for a few days, adding on the GPS option gets quite expensive. The maps on the car’s GPS often aren’t updated which can do more harm than good. The directions on there can be confusing and the voice giving the directions can be annoying. With the pocket WiFi, we were able to just punch in our destination on our phone, and let the phone guide us. This was so important for me because I am used to driving with my phone’s GPS at home, so it was a great comfort using it while driving in a totally new country too. There were a few times when we were driving and I knew that if the car’s GPS was leading me that way, I would have said no way because it just didn’t look right. Some places in Austria seemed rather empty, and having the peace of mind that my phone, which has an updated map, was leading me, made me feel much better…which brings me to my next point:
Our connection brought us through these beautiful mountain roads.
No matter where we were in Austria, the connection worked well. TEP works off of local data networks. You can easily see how good the connection is because you will see reception bars on the Teppy, very similar to reception bars on a cell phone. When we were in small villages, it worked. When we were in the middle of the mountains, it worked. When we were in the middle of a crowded city, it worked. From the village of Hallstatt, to the city of Salzburg, to the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, we were connected no matter where we were in Austria. We didn’t go anywhere insane, but for all of the areas we visited, which are places most tourists would visit, we had full coverage.
On a hike above the village of Hallstatt, Austria.
A view from the Grossglockner High Alpine Road – Austria’s highest mountain pass road.
When we weren’t driving around, we were using public transportation so it allowed us to get around with ease. We all know that public transportation can be a little confusing. Now try public transportation in a foreign city, where there are subways, trams, and buses – it can get really confusing! We were able to easily refer to Google Maps whenever we needed to so we could check out the best way to get around the cities we were in. Then, we were able to relax without having to think about what connections we needed to make.
Enjoying the tram in Vienna without worry.
We were able to post on social media and keep in touch with friends and family at home while on the go. I try not to be social media obsessed, but sometimes I just can’t help it. Sometimes I want to post all over my Instagram story about the amazing beauty that I am seeing. Sometimes I want to share something inspiring with my friends on Facebook. Sometimes I want to video chat with my family to show them exactly what I am seeing. No matter what we wanted to do, the Teppy allowed us to do it regardless of where we were, without having to worry about connection speed or if it would be able to “handle” it with a large amount of data.
Instagramming in Zell am See – not a problem!
We could always share our breathtaking photos.
Connecting multiple devices was not a problem – up to 5 devices can be connected. We were able to connect all three of the devices that we had with us – two cell phones and a tablet. We didn’t have to worry about who was using WiFi or who wasn’t using WiFi, and whether we were using all the devices on it at once or not because we didn’t notice much of a difference in speed. It is to be noted that connecting multiple devices at once could result in a noticeable change in speed, but for us, we didn’t have any problems.
Up to 5 devices can be connected at once.
We were able to research good food options and great activities close by easily without having to waste time looking for public wifi because the Teppy was always with us. If we weren’t sure where we want to eat, we always headed to TripAdvisor to read reviews to see what others are saying. By having the Teppy, we didn’t have to worry. We were always able to quickly look up a review or check out a new restaurant so we could dine with confidence. We also didn’t have to plan our day as much, and were able to just go with the flow. When we were in Vienna and Innsbruck, we simply looked up what was near us and then checked out the best nearby attractions… it was so convenient, saving us time and enabling us to enjoy our vacation.
We climbed to the top of Town Tower in Innsbruck to be treated with this beautiful view.
Spotty WiFi in our accommodations wasn’t a problem. Some of the places we stayed at did not have the best WiFi. Sometimes it was slow and other times it was simply non-existent. We used our Teppy to watch a movie on Netflix one night – there wasn’t even any buffering! I was extremely impressed with that. We also used it to stream music and it worked the same as if we were connected to a regular internet modem. We were even able to upload photos that we took on our camera that day to Instagram and Facebook right away. The Teppy screen always showed the amount of data we used, and all rentals include unlimited internet, so we didn’t have to worry about a thing. We also added on an upgrade from 3G to 4G, which helped with the speed.
We could upload our photos instantly!
The whole process was seamless – from the delivery directly to our hotel in Vienna, to returning it when the rental was over. The TEP website is very straightforward and it was easy to order our device. We could have had the device sent to our home before we left, but since we ordered it last minute, we got the device delivered to our hotel in Vienna. We were able to connect to the device very easily. The battery lasted us a whole day, but we turned it off occasionally when we weren’t using it. TEP Wireless allows you to return the device within two days of the end of the rental period, which is perfect because we didn’t have to worry about sending it back immediately once our rental was over. We didn’t have any problems with our device while we were traveling, but it was nice knowing that TEP Wireless has customer service available 24/7 so we would have been able to contact them at any time if we needed help.
Our Teppy kept us on track.
Will we rent a pocket WiFi from TEP Wireless next time we go on an adventure in a new country? For sure, yes! Using the Teppy was so convenient and really made our travels through Austria much smoother than they would have been if we weren’t constantly connected to the internet. TEP has coverage in over 100 countries so we know we will be covered no matter where we decide to go next. They even have a Global Pocket WiFi which covers multiple countries with one device which would be great if we were planning on traveling to multiple countries throughout the world. The Teppy kept us on track with everything throughout our time in Austria. I guess you can say we will officially have a third wheel now every time we go on vacation going forward – a Teppy. If you’re heading on vacation soon, you should definitely check out TEP Wireless.
Danielle Sheridan is a photographer based in New York City. View her work at http://www.daniellesheridanphoto.com.
Note: This article was created in collaboration with TEP Wireless. However, all thoughts and content are our own!