How to Stay Connected When You Globetrot and Traps to Avoid
If you have a company and do business online, such as have a magazine/news site, or an e-commerce website site that requires constant attention. Sometimes it makes it very difficult to take a vacation, as connecting to the site and doing whatever is required for your business can be very hard while you travel. Alternately, if by chance you fulfill your dreams (it was ours) and travel the world while you work online, it’s even more important to make sure you are always connected. Keeping in constant contact with your online commitments is incredibly important. If your e-commerce site goes down, it would be the equivalent of a brick and mortar store closing for the day and losing all of that income. There are certain tools that we suggest you have, the main one being the most important, a VPN service, to keep you out of trouble. You can also take hardware firewalls, Wi-Fi range extenders, and other cool toys, but for the moment we will just stick to the basics.
Bandwidth at the Hotel
First and foremost, if you’re traveling to a hotel or an Airbnb, is to check the reviews for good Wi-Fi. Some places that tell you they have Wi-Fi don’t tell you that the connection is so slow and choppy that it’s almost unusable. Again, check the reviews for the Wi-Fi. When you get to the hotel, run a bandwidth check as well to make sure you have a good signal. You can also ask for a room closer to the Wi-Fi router as some rooms are much further away and have a much weaker connection than other rooms. Make sure there is Wi-Fi in the actual room as well, as some hotels will advertise Wi-Fi but it’s only in the lobby.
Internet cafes are an alternative when there’s an emergency. Just remember that they are not secure. Our best suggestion is that if you have to use one, to access any web pages using a private web page, which most of the web browsers have. You can also use a VPN which will help with security from the network side as well. You are still going to be subject to keystroke loggers and other local hardware tools, so we would really suggest just not using internet cafes unless there is an emergency need.
Censorship and Blocked Sites
Check the location of where you’re traveling to see if there are any issues with blocked content. As many places will block certain kinds of content or certain websites. This does not always mean bad websites, it just means websites that have gone on the list of unapproved. In this case, a VPN or virtual private Network comes in extremely handy. It’s a tool that is a must-have regardless of where you travel. It will act as if the computer you are on, and the location you are in, is somewhere else in the world such as local to where your business is. Sometimes when you log into a site such as your bank, it can also cause a security alert as you are logging in from another country. This can freeze your account and you will have to call and spend time on the phone getting it released again. Better to use the vpn and access it as if you are in your home area.
Security is a very serious thing when you travel. In hotels or airports there can be people with enough technical knowledge that they can intercept anything you’re doing on your computer. So if you’re logging into a secure site, for example your bank account. They can pull the ID and password from the network. Again, the best protection we have in this case is a VPN. This is the number one computer tool in your internet toolbox for travel.
Cell Phones and Hotspots
We have found that we can bypass a lot of the stress by purchasing a mobile WiFi hotspot, or a cell phone that tethers (this means you can use the cellphone as a hotspot). If you are a globetrotter, we suggest you do not buy one of the ones the airports always offer as a service, but to go to a local store and purchase there instead as the expense is much, much less. For example, in the Philippines you can buy a mobile hotspot for about $20 and load it with data. You can get month of unlimited data also for about $20, or you can buy smaller amounts and use it as you need it. We find that if we cannot connect at a hotel or other location, that the hotspot allows us to still access what we need to access and it becomes a lot less stressful. The cell phone also has a secondary benefit of letting you be reachable by phone in that local country, without the large expensive roaming fees.
In our connected world, we assume that everywhere we go we will be connected, but this is not always the case. Other people often don’t see the importance of having a connection quite as strongly as we do. So it’s good to do your research, and check each location you are going to go, to make sure you can stay connected, and that the connection is a good one. A lot of this is common sense, but it’s also things we don’t consider because we generally don’t have to. There is also a lot of other good advice online for your business. Good luck on your travels and stay connected.