It’s no secret that staying connected in Europe can be quite challenging. But, it is getting easier all the time. Everyone these days is traveling with a smartphone or tablet, and staying connected is a top priority.
There are basically four ways you can get Wi-Fi when traveling in Europe. They include getting a European plan with your current provider, using free hotspots in hotels and coffee shops, buying a European prepaid sim card, or using a portable pocket Wi-Fi for Europe.
This post will cover the best portable pocket WI-FI for Europe.
Best Portable Pocket Wi-Fi for Europe
With technological advances focusing more and more on downsizing and portability, we ourselves are quickly turning into the main carrier that gadgets are designed for rather than having them fit into a domestic or professional context.
I vividly recall reading about the portable electronic device in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy described as “the standard repository for all knowledge and wisdom.”
Ironically, I was reading this on a tablet, and it made me recall all the other Sci-Fi classics I had read that were only restricted by the imagination of the author. Through all of these literary geniuses, it had become pretty clear that technology was always meant to automatize our daily lives and make everything more efficient as well as remain interconnected.
The most important part of this is still our need to be constantly connected to the internet and finding the cheapest and most efficient way to do so. For travelers, this can be extra challenging, especially when traveling between different countries where the rules and costs might fluctuate quite a bit.
If you will soon travel to Europe and it is very important to you that you remain available online, then this is the article for you!
What is a portable Wi-Fi device, and how does it work?
In short, portable Wi-Fi is simply carrying a tiny router in your pocket. It allows you to connect your electronic devices to a Wi-Fi network much as you would do at home.
The tiny device that can fit into your palm is all you will ever need without having to fiddle with additional software installations or cables.
With a range of up to 15 meters, you will remain connected for as long as your device is within that range and can also be shared with up to 10 people at the same time.
In order to receive portable Wi-Fi, you will need to purchase a SIM card and data plan since the device turns your 4G network into a Wi-Fi hotspot.
So, it is a general misconception that it is simply a tiny router with which you can channel other Wi-Fi signals.
What makes portable Wi-Fi unique?
Having a router in your pocket also means that you can be connected to the net all the time, even in places where you will have no connection otherwise. So, in essence, portable Wi-Fi can be indispensable for business travelers who need to benefit from a safe, unlimited, and stable connection at all times for their job.
But even if you are just a tourist and find yourself in a low or no bar area but would love to research some extra information about the place you are visiting or let your loved ones know you are alright, portable Wi-Fi can provide you with that.
We would also highly recommend this option for those traveling in groups. We mentioned before that you could share the connection with up to 10 people, depending on the plan you select. This means that you can technically purchase one plan only and then share the benefits with everyone else in the group.
If you are smart, you can even divide the price amongst everyone in the group and end up with the cheapest possible option.
Tip: If you are traveling in a group and intend to share the connection, remember that sharing can affect the internet speed. So, take care if you are a group of heavy users, more than 6 connections are not recommended.
Social media usage, e-mail, and internet research will be just fine in this context, but if some members of the group also intend to stream or game a lot, you may want to consider the best solution before you leave.
Portable Wi-Fi or local SIM with a data plan?
Perhaps you are asking yourself this question since 2017 marked the year that Europe abolished roaming charges. This law is relatively new and does not come without restrictions, so informing yourself is key.
As the prices listed below will show, portable Wi-Fi is not exactly cheap, but for the right kind of user the investment can very well be worth it. The previously mentioned abolishment of roaming charges has taken effect with some providers. This means that certain carriers such as Orange and Vodafone have cooked up some pretty good deals for travelers with no additional roaming charges for between 30 and 50 countries.
But this would again depend on what you are looking for and how long you plan on staying abroad. If you were to select a data plan with a local carrier with an unlimited plan, which is really not that easy to find, your monthly cost would not be that much different than portable Wi-Fi.
So, before you make a choice, make sure you prioritize exactly what you want and what you don’t so you avoid paying for services you don’t necessarily need.
Local SIM is better for:
- Those who won’t be needing unlimited internet and will remain in densely populated areas with a decent reception at all times
- Those who won’t travel for a long time and can take advantage of deals offered by providers for a two week rather than a monthly plan
- Those who won’t only need internet but also want to use minutes and texts
- Tip: the law abolishing roaming charges is relatively new, and most providers have a list for which countries no extra costs will be charged. So make sure you select a carrier that covers all the countries you want to visit
Portable Wi-Fi is better for:
- Those who need a reliable internet connection much more than free minutes or texting
- Those who will move around quite a bit and are likely to cover remote areas in their trip
- Those who need unlimited internet and need a stable connection at all times
- Those traveling in a group or with a family and can take advantage of the sharing option to save a lot of money
Best Unlimited Portable Wi-Fi Options for Europe
Purchasing a SIM card and data plan can be beneficial for those who would travel to Europe on a regular base. If not, however, we would recommend that you consider renting your portable Wi-Fi.
The principle is rather similar to that of a prepaid SIM card. It saves you the trouble of having to sign a contract, allows you to charge as needed and only binds you to the carrier for the amount of time you are abroad.
Below you can find an overview of 5 carriers offering some of the best rates and features for use in over 100 countries or more. This is a great option if you plan on backpacking through Europe or want to visit more than one country without the hassle of switching carriers.
# of countries
Highest possible number of simultaneous connections
€7.95 / $9 per day
Post, location pickup
€9.90 / $11.20 per day
Location pickup, hotel delivery
€9.40 / $10.64 per day
France (hotels, airports, apartment) Europe (apartment, hotels)
€6.90 / $7.81 per day
Anywhere in Europe from €4.5
$5.43 per day
Post, hotel delivery, hotel pickup
If you only want to travel to one specific country, you will notice that some carriers offer services in a large collection of European countries separately while others only provide portable Wi-Fi with 2 options; one country in specific and Europe.
Travel Wi-Fi, for example, caters specifically to those traveling to France or Europe in general. Similarly, Traveler’s Wi-Fi has packages aimed at Switzerland and global users.
iVideo Pocket Wi-Fi, in turn, focuses on Europe in general as well as those requiring services globally. TEP Wireless and WebSpot are the only ones that can be used for Europe as well as many different countries separately and you will get a deal at around $2 per day cheaper than the European package.
If you have a strong focus on getting the cheapest deal, make sure you are smart about price comparison. You will notice that some carriers offering European options will still be cheaper than one specific country selected on another carrier.
But before you decide, do a quick internet search to see if there are carriers native to the country you plan on visiting that only offer deals there. For some countries, they can be far less economical than the options offered above, but for others, they can be very surprising. For example, check out this amazing deal in Italy!
Highest possible number of simultaneous connections
€3.25 / $3.68 per day
€3.85 / $4.36 per day
In addition to the best pocket Wi-Fi services for Europe we have mentioned above, there are a couple of alternatives you can also choose. Below, you will find two of our honorable mentions.
This offers unlimited data plans for Europe at the cost of €6.50 per day. There are 43 different European countries included in this plan as well. It has been reported by several users that this plan offers a very good connection and is one of the best and more affordable prices for unlimited internet plans in Europe. They have also reported that it works with three to five mobile devices and offers 4G support.
On the other hand, one of the bigger drawbacks to this plan is that it is not the best option for those who are going to need a pocket Wi-Fi device for less than four days. This service only offers plan options for four or more days.
This service is easy to use, gives you access to a more secure and private connection, and you can save up to 95% when compared with the rates of other operators.
Pocket Wi-Fi Amsterdam
This Wi-Fi service offers 4G support and covers 33 different countries. You can connect up to five devices simultaneously with six to eight hours of continuous use and battery life. This plan starts at €8.50 per day, which is higher than some other carriers but still considered affordable.
For this rate, you must rent the device for 7 days or longer. However, you will have unlimited internet access within the borders of the Netherlands. So, if this is the area you will be visiting while in Europe, then it is a great option for you to consider.
Many users reported that the long battery life, the coverage, and the delivery service was exceptional. They also find that the rates are more than affordable for what you are getting. You will also have access to friendly customer service, which is helpful in the event you have any questions or concerns that need to be addressed.
A few drawbacks users reported included a 10 GB data cap and its limited service area. This Wi-Fi service can’t be used outside of the Netherlands. They also reported that it might not be as cost-effective as some other available options.
With the high quality of pocket Wi-Fi options we provided, it is up to you to decide where your priorities lie. The price is not the only thing to keep in mind, of course, and your choice might just depend on other characteristics such as the number of possible connections for multiple devices, delivery location, data usage, or battery life.
The most important question to start from is if portable pocket Wi-Fi is the right choice for you compared to other options out there to stay connected while on vacation. If it is, all you need to do is decide what features matter most to you and you are good to go. Happy travels!