We just got back from Madrid and I definitely wanted to share this.
While preparing for our trip to Madrid, I was trying to figure out how we'd stay connected abroad. We're so technology-driven these days (who isn't?!) that we both agreed we wanted to have data access in Madrid.
In the hotel would be no problem. We're both Starwood Gold (thanks to each of our Amex Platinum cards) and, as a Gold welcome gift, we're entitled to complimentary in-room Internet.
Our issue was having data on the go when we were exploring the city. We love Foursquare and Instagram for sharing the places that we visit.
After extensive research, I stumbled upon XCom Global, a company that make two products - a USB modem and a wireless hotspot ("MiFi"). For our intents and purposes, we would opt for the wireless hotspot.
XCom Global boasts service in 175 countries. They also boast unlimited 3G data, which is very key because data can really add up, especially when you break out data-hungry apps like Google Maps.
The per day fee for the MiFi is $14.95, and two-way shipping will cost you $29.90.
Here is a breakdown of what I found to be the key points:
- Easier than having to track down a local SIM card in the country you're visiting
- Eliminates the need to have a Global phone
- Flat rate ($14.95) for unlimited 3G data usage
- Eliminates need to purchase hotel WiFi
- Up to 5 devices can connect
- Good 3G speeds
- Delivered to you before you depart; ready to drop off for shipping back to XCom Global when you return
- Relative to buying a local SIM and not needing unlimited data - expensive pricing
- Unit does not display how much battery is left
- It is another device to carry while traveling
- Battery life is relatively short - I'd say we averaged 3-5 hours of battery life.
- I'd recommend renting an extra battery through XCom for an extra $1/day.
- I used my portable battery pack so we were powered all day.
- Overpriced 'replacement cost' of unit if insurance isn't purchased - $800
We had a great experience with the XCom Global MiFi wireless hotspot! It kept us connected throughout our trip to Madrid (even the layover in Rome).
The ease of use and multi-device connectivity far outweighed the price premium. As a solo traveler, I might consider other options, but as a couple with a total of 4 devices, this was a no-brainer for us.
I highly recommend this as an option for your international travels, but definitely don't overlook buying a local SIM card at your destination. It may be far cheaper. As always, do your own research!
Joann and I will definitely be using XCom Global again, probably to our trip to Buenos Aires in April.
Since I was so pleased with our service, I contacted XCom Global about their affiliate program.
They were more than willing to work with me so I'm proud to say I can offer my readers a 5% discount on the XCom Global service! By clicking on this link, you can save 5% on either the MiFi or USB device.