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What are your recommendations for pocket wifi rental services?

Hi everyone,

My husband and I are traveling to Europe for 16 days in May. I was wondering if you have any recommendations on pocket wifi (hotspot) rental services that allow us to use wifi in the Netherlands, Belgium and France? We are planning to drive in France too so we want to make sure we have navigation using data.

We were looking at wi-ho and they cost about 160 EUR for 16 days for 1 device, which seems to be very expensive, but I'm not sure how it's compared to other services.

The reason why we are not going with buying a SIM is because our phones are not unlocked version, using Verizon. We looked into Verizon roaming data too but it also seems to be a lot.

Any recommendations would be appreciated!

Posted by
1767 posts

These wifi hot spots have their fans and also their haters. I consider them a luxury not a necessity so don't mind paying more as long as reasonable to get fast data wherever I am, do what I want and not worry about how much I am using, etc...

That price seems about right. You definitely don't need more than 1 device.
I have used my-webspot and was happy with their service for a multi-country trip in Europe.
https://my-webspot.com/
Worked as described, no surprises. Rented from them fall of 2017.
3 devices (me, wife and daughter can all connect and use data at the same time from the one hotspot device)

I rented from them again for a trip in a couple of months ; similarly multiple countries one of them France.

I am renting for I think 15 days and paid 165 euro if I recall correctly ; that included the shipping to and from.
There was a coupon code I used for 9.95 euro off the shipping which I could probably locate if you want it.

Shorter rental terms they are a better value, these longish trips they get pricey compared to say a SIM card.

I have also used a couple of times Espresso Wifi for trips to Italy and they are cheaper and I liked it a little better but they are Italy only so for your trip would be useless as it would for my upcoming trip.

Posted by
36 posts

Thank you for your response! This is really helpful! I guess I will be renting one then! :)

Posted by
4923 posts

Someone who has a $10/day international roaming plan (e.g. Verizon or AT&T) could just use their smartphone's WiFi hotspot - $160 is cheaper than 160 Euros, and you can use your own phone, make calls to the US, not have to worry about some other device etc. Use other devices like tablets and laptops with your phone's WiFi hotspot. Sprint and T-Mobile users get free unlimited international roaming data for free (2G speeds) and 20 cents/min calls.

Alas, you don't need ANY mobile data (or a WiFi hotspot) to use your phone for driving navigation. Use Google Maps "offline" - download the maps ahead of time on WiFi in the area you will be driving in, then put the phone in airplane mode (but turn on Wifi to use at hotels), and you can still use the phone as a GPS. Try it at home first! I used it this way to drive in Slovenia last year - worked fine! Google Maps "offline" doesn't work for walking or public transit directions though.

Posted by
1767 posts

2g speed only goes so far
Personally I pay the cost to let my young daughter who puts up with our travels if we let her stream videos while away which we limit more at home
Plus I have to keep up with work while away so need to make sure I stay on the grid

As a bonus with 4g speed and unlimited data we can FaceTime in my mother in law at home so she can see first hand some sights she will never get to see in person

Most don’t need that much data or speed and I understand that so not forcing it on anyone

Posted by
4923 posts

Verizon and AT&T users get 4G speed with their plans. Most people I talk to who have used T-Mobile overseas say the data speeds are fast enough for them. I found that T-Mobile 2G was almost always fast enough - surely plenty fast enough for driving with Google Maps. I would expect it to be slow with Skype or Facetime or streaming video. If that was really important to me, I'd probably save 60 to 80 Euros over the WiFi hotspot and just buy a cheap prepaid Android phone in Europe and SIM to use as a WiFi hotspot, if my existing smart phone was locked - and then I'd have the phone to use on my next trip. Any mobile store in Europe should be able to set you up with such a phone and SIM.

Posted by
36 posts

Thanks, everyone for your advice!

I will probably buy an unlocked phone and bring it with me. Do I just buy a sim card at any phone stores? Will that come with unlimited data? And can that be used in different European countries?

Posted by
4923 posts

I will probably buy an unlocked phone and bring it with me. Do I just buy a sim card at any phone stores? Will that come with unlimited data? And can that be used in different European countries?

Yes, you can just buy a prepaid SIM card at a store in the first country you visit. No, it probably won't have unlimited data. But unless you are streaming video and/or none of your lodgings have WiFi. Last year, I did a 17 day trip in Europe and bought a Dutch Vodafone SIM ahead of time on eBay and bought a "You" bundle to give me 3GB of data for 30 days. In 17 days, I used only 2GB.

Mobile plans vary by the company and the country. I would make sure you can use your data with hotspot and that they allow roaming in Europe. EU rules state that mobile companies can't charge extra for roaming within the EU outside of the home country, but that doesn't mean they have to offer roaming - just can't charge more for it. Just ask at the mobile store when you buy it - they'll set it all up for you before you leave the store. If you have a tablet or laptop, take it to the store with you, test out your hotspot on the spot and make sure it works.

Based on my experience with the Dutch Vodafone SIM, I can recommend it (I used hotspot a lot last year), especially if you happen to be visiting the Netherlands first on your trip. You could even buy it on eBay ahead of time like did, but you may not need to if you will visit there first.

Are you certain your Verizon phone is locked? Verizon (unlike AT&T) historically has not locked its postpaid phones (that is changing very soon I believe per Verizon's announcement but that shouldn't affect older phones). Verizon prepaid phones are locked, though. If you buy a phone in the US, make sure it has LTE frequencies for Europe - not all of them do. You could buy a phone when you get to Europe. But do confirm that your Verizon phone really isn't unlocked first.

Posted by
11805 posts

I typically buy a local SIM card (I only buy unlocked phones after having trouble with AT&T unlocking my phone a decade or so ago) but manage my data by using free WiFi when I can get it. In every case, I end up not worrying about WiFi because I have too much data left toward the end of the trip.

Each SIM card is a little different deal. Orange Holiday card is a popular, not necessarily cheapest option, but is limited (as far as I know) to 14 days.

WiFi is available free all over Europe. As just one example, my prepaid SIM card ran out one morning in rural Spain. I needed to contact hotels for lodging that night and stopped in the first little town I saw. The TI was closed. They had WiFi but I didn't have the password. I asked a group of old men and they suggested asking at the bar across the street. Sure enough the lady gave me the userID and password to the bar's WiFi and I was able to use that to contact and book a hotel for the night.

Sometimes WiFi is better than others. In budget hotels or hostels it may be weak in your room so you have to go to the lobby to use it.

Posted by
3303 posts

I will probably buy an unlocked phone and bring it with me.

Or......consider using one of your older mobile phones you discarded once you got your current phone.