Before you decide on travelling, you can take a few steps to prepare for scanty internet access. Many of us want to rush to our relatives for the holidays, carrying a lot of electronics with us only to find out that our cousin cancelled the cable service for some reason. Maybe the cousin’s house is in the woods which are in a cellular coverage shadow. There is probably no 3G or 2G signal to be found for miles. What can you do about it?
You can prepare for the worst case scenario before you start your journey. There have never been more options for acquiring high speed internet access even when a feed is not convenient. That counts for your old family home or a hotel. If you are planning to rely on mobile broadband, you can visit your carrier’s site and use their coverage map to see if you can receive high speed data where you are likely to go. These maps may be estimates and they are never guarantees. It is still a good way to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Use your iPhone as a personal hot spot. The best mobile modem is the one you have with you. If you have an iOS4, you can plug your laptop in via USB to your Dock connector or you can use a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi from laptops to connect back to the internet. Many models of smartphones running Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone also offer USB and a mobile hot spot feature for Wi-Fi. The cost for a mobile hot spot is not that gigantic.
Alternatively, you can carry a mobile router like the Mi-Fi that can relay a cellular data signal over Wi-Fi creating a portable hot spot. A tough way to deal with a weak broadband signal is to bring a Wi-Fi base station of your own with you. Even if Apple’s Airport Extreme is rather large, it is worth the trouble to stay connected.