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Why I Use a Portable Mobile Router for Both Travel and Home

Tessa Schlesinger grew up in the age of typewriters. She made the switch to high-tech in 1975 when she was employed by Olivetti...

A portable travel router can be used in your home as it is twice as powerful!

A portable travel router can be used in your home as it is twice as powerful!

Travel Routers Use Smartphone Technology

Travel routers are small, portable routers that use the same technology as smartphones to connect to the internet. For many people, traveling for business or vacation is the only reason to use a portable router. There are other reasons, however. For me, it has become my router of choice.

You can see the size of the portable mobile router compared to the power banks and the tablet.

You can see the size of the portable mobile router compared to the power banks and the tablet.

Why I Started Using a Portable Mobile Sim Router

Like many other people, I have a laptop, a tablet, and a phone. Keeping them topped up with data generally meant three different accounts. If I was home, of course, I could just link to the router. When I was out on the road, it meant that I needed to ensure that my phone or tablet was always topped up.

If I took my laptop with me, it meant that wherever I used it, I either had a dongle (now replaced by portable routers) or the airport, coffee shop, or general area where I was needed to be online. Preferably, the area needed to provide free wifi.

Not only was this an expensive business in general, but there was never any guarantee that if I was on the road that the next stop was going to provide a free wifi facility, and, to boot, I would sometimes run out of data.

When I first saw a portable router on display at my local ISP, I was hooked. I bought one within weeks, and I’ve never looked back.

My bills have dropped, and I no longer have monthly contracts. In South Africa, I am on a month-to-month plan (which means I can cancel anytime with no further obligation), and I pay about $25 per month for 80 gigs. This is more than enough for me. Of course, I don’t watch movies or play games. The point is that I have no monthly commitment and I can up and go and I’m always online. Plus, it’s one gizmo for all my needs.

I've used two different wifi portable routers. Both were equally good. For me, it boiled down to which was the prettier! :)

I've used two different wifi portable routers. Both were equally good. For me, it boiled down to which was the prettier! :)

Sim Routers

Until I arrived in South Africa, I was unaware that there was such a thing as a sim router. For the past four years, I have only used a sim router. This meant that once the router had a sim card, I could take the router with me wherever I relocated to, and there was no need to call the provider to reinstall. I simply packed it up, relocated, and plugged it in.

This was a great improvement on previous routers. However, measuring five or six inches by three or four inches meant that it wasn’t exactly the most convenient item to carry about in a purse.

Portable Travel Routers

Essentially a portable router is simply a sim router that is small enough to hold in your hand. It fits in your pocket or your purse. It connects the same way a smartphone does. You can change the sim card if you are traveling in another country so that all you pay for is data. It’s always less expensive to buy data in the country you are traveling in.

Portable routers were originally marketed to business travelers, but it has since become a commodity for anyone who wants to save on the expense and inconvenience of having several different data accounts.

It’s also the ideal minimalist solution in that it uses less material to manufacture, takes the place of several accounts and uses less space. If you are only using VOIP on your smartphone, there is also no need to get a sim card for your phone.

While I do have a sim card in my phone, I don't have one in my tablet. So I can only use VOIP (Skype, Messenger, Whatsapp) to make calls on my tablet, but that's okay for me.

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These old, ugly routers are no longer necessary. Portable wifi routers have replaced them.

These old, ugly routers are no longer necessary. Portable wifi routers have replaced them.

Why This Small Portable Router Works for Me

I always carry my phone and my tablet with me. Less frequently, if I don’t feel like working at home, I take my laptop with me.

Instead of having three different accounts—for my phone, my tablet, and my laptop—I now only pay for data on my portable router. When I’m out and about, I slip my router into my purse or pocket and I’m online wherever I am.

I also no longer have to look for a specific coffee shop to ensure that they are online. I can work anywhere, and that is the convenience of a pocket router.

Speed and Bandwidth

These small routers are as fast as any phone. As per phones, you get 3G and 4G routers. I have a 4G LTE router and I have yet to be limited by any download speed. They are fast.

In addition, there is sufficient bandwidth for me to be able to have my phone, tablet, and laptop all operating with no slow-down in speed. This is because most of these wifi routers are made so that more than one person can use them.

I particularly like the TP-Line portable router, but have used both TP-link and Huawei (pronounced waa-way). Both of them have served me well. The TP-link has greater bandwidth so that when friends and family came around, they could use it as well. The one I had boasted it could be used by up to eleven people. I’m not sure if that is true, because I’ve only had four people connect to it at any one time. There was no slow-down in speed.

You can definitely do everything that you do on a conventional router on this mobile, portable router.

Old-Style Routers Will Become Obsolete

I have no doubt that routers using conventional technology will become obsolete as mobile routers take their place. There is simply no reason to be tied down geographically to a router. After all, we are all moving around all the time, aren’t we? That said, the only downside I have found with portable routers is that they are easy to lose. It's best to get into the habit of carrying them in one place (a particular pocket or a particular place in your purse). That way, you'll notice immediately if you don't return it when you've taken it out for some reason. Generally, I just leave it in my purse these days.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Tessa Schlesinger


Tessa Schlesinger (author) on January 02, 2020:

Liz, in the four years I have used sim routers, I have NEVER had an issue with no wifi. Oh, wait, I lie. When I'm in the backwoods (I travel) surrounded by mountains, and there are no towers around, then, yes, it's an issue.

But then, your normal router wouldn't work there either.

Investing in a portable mobile router has been the best decision I have ever made with regard to the internet. I cannot recommend it strongly enough!

Liz Westwood from UK on January 02, 2020:

This has been an enlightening article for me to read. I have learnt a lot about mobile routers. You are right. I get very frustrated when there's no free wi-fi or the wi-fi does not work well when I am out and about. Do you ever find black spots with your mobile router or will it literally work anywhere?

Tessa Schlesinger (author) on January 02, 2020:

Rather thought it might be. :) Well, good for you that you have something like that. :)

Tony Lawrence from SE MA on January 02, 2020:

You most hated product :)

I’m Apple all the way. Currently I use an iPhone 11 on AT&T’s network with a 12GB plan ( my wife and I only use about 4 GB between us).

Tessa Schlesinger (author) on January 02, 2020:

That's interesting. What sort of phone do you have? When I was living in Spain, the guy I was sharing an apartment with did the same thing. But my phone didn't do it.

Tony Lawrence from SE MA on January 02, 2020:

My phone is my access point for the rest of my devices. It’s a feature called Personal Hotspot.

It’s not available on all phones or on all carriers, but is on the majority here. For some carriers and some low end plans it is extra cost, but for most of us here it is not.

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