For many people while they travel staying connected to the Internet is not vital because they are on holiday… This is not the case for us. The Internet is the reason we can be traveling and this is not a holiday… I’ve lost count of how many people have said enjoy the rest of your holiday – we often reply it’s a working holiday for us, but really were trying out a traveling lifestyle to see if it fits with. You could almost say we’re modern day gypsy.
To be a modern day gypsy we need a regular ‘good’ supply of Internet. This is not just for our work but also for the kids homeschooling which is based online. To this end when we look for accommodation it is one of the criteria we use when deciding to stay some where. When we first move to a new country we generally spend a considerable amount of time looking for and setting up pre-paid SIMs. This should be easy but it’s amazing how often it becomes a bit of a drama – often because of the language barriers (and don’t even get me started on recharging those prepaid SIMs :-)). These SIMs don’t have enough data to accommodate all the things we need to do, but they give us a mobile connectivity that’s very useful when moving around a place and for checking email/updating social media.
Once set up in an accommodation we have rarely been happy with the Internet provided for a number of reasons – it’s never never the stated speed (or anything like it) and many times it’s just disappeared for a day or two. This leads us to wandering the streets looking for good Internet cafes and hotspots where ever we are. Finding cafes with Internet has been relatively easy as it’s very very common these days everywhere, but finding cafes with ‘good’ Internet is another story! Sometimes their networks are so crammed with connection we can’t get on and when we do it’s terribly slow and often erratic.
We’ve also tried to use a lot of hotspots available in city centre’s, train stations, airports etc. however connecting is often impossible and if you are lucky enough to get on the speed is abysmal and erratic. I love this idea of local authorities and big corporations like airports providing Internet as a service to the public, I just wish it was useable more often.
There are also mobile offices you can use for a fee that come with good Internet as well as co-working spaces, again available for a fee. These places are an option in many big cities – all you need do is a Google search to locate them. We have had some interesting looks when we roll up to these office environments with three kids and then all sit around quietly getting our work done for a few hours – I’m not sure what they’re imagining the kids will get up too 🙂
This is definitely a first world problem, but for us it is a major problem we deal with everyday, it’s our bread and butter! Trying to work online when images don’t load, email won’t send and you get thrown off every 5 minutes has become a constant struggle for us as we continue our adventure. On a larger scale there is definitely room for improvements in the network infrastructures in many places in the world. Often the issues we’ve had are related to not enough capacity on the network for all the connected people. Basically supply is not keeping up with the demand to be connected to the Internet. For us it means planning ahead a bit more: categorizing our work into no internet required (like writing this blog post), slow internet is ok (send and check email and maybe upload this blog post if the image is not too big) and great Internet available (download videos the kids need for school and upload the videos we’ve done for the blog).
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