MIFI Hotspot: Is it worth it while you are traveling? Answer: YES.

By Posted in - Blog & Travel Products on August 20th, 2013 XCom Global Mifi device

Updated August 2015

By Cacinda Maloney

MIFI Hotspot:  Is it worth it while you are traveling? Answer:  YES!

I was lucky enough to try out a product that was new to me called a Mifi, my very own, personal wifi on my trip to Norway from Xcom Global. They were gracious enough to allow me to test out the international mifi rental, a mobile hotspot or the other option I could have tried was the USB modem.

XCom Global Mifi device

XCom Global Mifi device

What you need for an international mifi or Europe mifi rental:

The steps were quite simple and here is what they needed from me:

Date of departure:

Date of return:

Address to ship to in US (1 day prior to departure):

Name on order:

Contact phone:

MIFI Hotspot

I emailed that information and sure enough, one day prior to departure the international mifi rental arrived.  It was not the Huawei brand I was expecting, but that is ok. There was a warning attached to the mobile device to NOT plug it in until I reached the country in which it was programmed for, which in this case was Norway.  This did take me by surprise, as I was ready to plug it in and get it charged up before leaving on the trip, so keep that in mind.

Once you arrive with your international mifi hotspot or Europe mifi:

Upon arrival to my apartment in Oslo, Norway, I immediately pulled it out of its packaging and plugged it in, as it need 4 hours to charge.  Once out on the town, I slipped it into my pocket, next to my cell phone and had it turned on.  Here are my thoughts throughout my time in Norway.  Be aware that I had used modes of transportation on the subway, trains, airplanes, boats and even went through tunnels and the fjords area of Norway:

PROS OF THE MIFI HOTSPOT:

  • Readily available once I was on the ground after charging, which took four hours to charge.
  • It connected right away to my devices once I programmed the password into each device and then remembered it throughout my trip.
  • It has the ability to connect up to 5 devices, I only used 3, but I can see where it would be beneficial to travelers in a group.
  • It is a secure network, so although there was quite a bit of wifi available throughout my travels, this one was secure.
  • Obviously, no roaming fees on my cell phone.
  • It allowed for two countries, with the first one $14.95 a day and the second one free and/or there is also a European data package that allows for up to 40 countries at the same rate of $14.95 per day.
  • Small and portable, and convenient
  • Easy return in a prepaid envelope.

CONS OF THE MIFI HOTSPOT:  

  • I could not use it until I got to the country in which it was programmed.  So no usage in the airport along the way, which was a bummer for me.  On the return, I had to get some work done and ended up with a 24 hour Boingo charge of $8.95.
  • It only has four hours of usage, till it needs to get plugged in again.  Tip: I didn’t figure this out till day 2, and left it on the entire time on day one.  Now I realize I should have just turned it on when I needed it and then saved the battery time by turning it off when I wasn’t using it.
XCom Global Mifi device

XCom Global Mifi device

  • This may sound stupid, but it had a difficult passcode and it took about 5 attempts at getting the code in there before it worked.  Many numbers and capital letters, etc., but once it, it was in the memory of the devices it worked fine.
  • This may be a given, but it didn’t work well on trains, as I would be going in and out of tunnels and so I get that it didn’t work, but not realizing that in advance, I thought I could get some work done on a long 6 hour train ride:  NOT.
  • Cost is $14.95 per day

Overall Impressions of the Mifi Hotspot:

Overall, I LOVED having an international mifi rental with me all the time and would recommend getting on for your next trip, especially if you need to get some work done, even though there may be areas where this is limits.  I found the cost to be quite prohibited, but on the other hand it sure is convenient.  My 7 day trip to Norway would have cost $105, not sure if there are taxes, but I suspect there are, so it would probably run around $120 ‘all in’ for a week.

What do you think?  Would you ever pay for one of these devices?  Have you rented one before? What company did you use?

Pinners, pin this one:

XCom Global Mifi device

XCom Global Mifi device

Disclosure:  I was given a mifi hotspot from X-Com Global for my trip to Norway.

(24) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • lee laurino -

    August 20, 2013 at 10:19 am

    i have just started to investigate the benefit of this for an extended stay in Italy.
    i thought they had discounts for 30 days or longer?

    did you calculate the price impact per day vs a sim card for your phone and searching for free wifi in towns and cities? i know it is inconvenient and often difficult to constantly go to a library or coffee shop but for a 30 day trip,….
    also, any idea if the USA mifi’s will work in Europe? ATT is launching an ‘affordable’ program this fall, but i have no details on it.

    • admin -

      August 20, 2013 at 10:51 am

      Lee,
      When you order the midi, you tell them the dates and the countries you will be visiting. They will program it to work only towards those countries and dates. For you, it sounds like their 30 day European offer would be best, check out their website. I do have an international SIM card for my phone and do use the wifi I can locate, but found this to be so convenient. I know we are spoiled, but one thing a travel writer needs at all time is good internet, so that we can facebook and tweet and use other social media for the campaigns we are working on. Again, their mifi’s are program to work in the countries that you tell them you will be in.

  • admin -

    August 26, 2013 at 11:37 am

    XCom Global’s Labor Day Special – 10% Off Coupon Code
    Don’t miss the Labor Day Sale at XCom Global!

    FYI – XCom Global is hosting a Labor Day Sale. The sale runs now until September 30, 2013.

    To redeem: when you are done placing your order using the online ordering system, the checkout process will ask if you have a promo or discount code. Enter the code “LABORDAY10″ to receive 10% off your entire purchase order.

  • Angela -

    August 28, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    What a great product and idea. However, I do not know if I would need to pay $14.95 a day to have this service. I guess it really would depend where my destination is (if there are good places to connect to wifi) and the cost and length of my overall trip. If I am saving lots of money somewhere (like flight) I might choose to opt into the daily fee for almost guaranteed wifi.

    • admin -

      August 28, 2013 at 9:52 pm

      Yes, I think it all depends on what you need as you travel abroad. It is expensive, but for those that need a guaranteed internet while on the road, it is idea and if they can get their company to pay for it, then perfect!

  • Jeff @ Go Travelzing -

    September 1, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Considering how much cell phone companies charge to roam this is not a bad deal. Did you try making phone call using Skype?

    • admin -

      September 1, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      No, I only used it for access to the internet on my phone and computers, but i am sure you can do that as well!

  • Skwok -

    September 1, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    How much would a global sim card be? It would at have the convenience of the global mifi but maybe it would be cheaper?

    I usually get a sim locally but it can take about 30 minutes not factoring in the time it takes to locate one if it is not in the airport.

    • admin -

      September 1, 2013 at 5:49 pm

      Yes, I usually do the same, but in some countries have had difficulty finding the SIM card on day 1, usually just a nuisance, so, thinking that this thing would be good for work. I am also wondering if you can just buy one? Not sure how that works either, but it would be cool to have with you most of the time!

  • Diana -

    March 7, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Thanks for breaking this down so clearly! I always wondered how that service would work. Usually when I’m traveling, I’d hope that the restaurant/shop I wandered into would be generous and share their wifi password.

    • admin -

      March 8, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      I know, it is a bit complicated at first! But just remember to put your phone on Airplane mode, so you do not get charged roaming fees and then look turn your wifi on. Usually restaurants are free, but sometimes you just have to ask for the wifi code.

  • elaine schoch -

    March 19, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    I love using mifi when I travel! Knowing I can connect – securely – is a huge bonus.

    • admin -

      March 20, 2014 at 4:19 pm

      Me too!

  • Erin -

    May 30, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    I have used XComGlobal in Canada, Brazil, France and Portugal. It is worth the expense for the convenience and avoiding the high fees the US wireless companies charge for international roaming and data. More than the mail and social media – I loved being able to click on maps and find my way around in cities I was visiting as well as Yelp for suggestions of places to eat and shop. It also worked well with apps like Viber, so I was able to make voice calls home for FREE and FaceTime/Skype to have video chats. I also use WeChat, WhatsApp and FaceBook for messaging. My only complaint is the battery situation. I have ordered the extra internal battery, but it’s a pain to keep both batteries charged and keep switching them. I have also ordered the external battery, but found it bulky. I would suggest just buying an external mophie that you can just connect to mifi when you need to juice up the mifi while you are on the go. If you have an iPhone and have a mophie juice pack for that, you should be good to go for the whole day!

    • admin -

      May 30, 2014 at 8:25 pm

      Yes, the 4 hour battery is a problem , but the external mophie is a good idea. I do love having a mifi at all times!

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  • Jenny -

    December 9, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    I’m thinking about getting one for my next trip to Europe in Feb and bring a portable charger pack for myself. Is the mifi charged with just a regular USB port to connect?

    • Cacinda Maloney -

      December 9, 2014 at 9:30 pm

      It comes with a charger that connects directly into the wall with the appropriate country plug in that you will need.

  • peggys -

    January 21, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    My TMobile phone plan offers free data and texting in many countries. Phone calls are 20 cents a minute. I spent 2 weeks in India and never had a signal ptoblem.

    • Cacinda Maloney -

      January 22, 2015 at 8:23 am

      Peggy, that is awesome! I also have T-Mobile. Mifi hotspots in this instance are for those areas where it is hard to find a signal and more remote locations. Also, everyone doesn’t have T-Mobile and for US citizens it is only 3G international. When you are trying to get work done by working remotely, it is always important to have more than one way to reach the internet.

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  • bill -

    September 2, 2015 at 11:08 am

    My experience with xcom global was terrible.

    I rented a unit from xcom global for a total of 16 days in Europe. It was sluggish internet at best for the 5 days I was able to use it. I was unable to connect for 11 days and customer support was less than helpful.

    After 2 days of thinking that the product was quite convenient to have the connection suddenly dropped. It took a while to connect to customer support (2 days of emails) and according to them I went over the 150 mb limit of ‘fair usage’ so they cut me off.

    Don’t believe their claims of unlimited internet and their claims of coverage. Even after sending back the unit and requesting a refund they insisted that i still had ‘usage’ on days that i could not connect.

    • Cacinda Maloney -

      September 2, 2015 at 11:50 am

      Bill, I am sorry to hear this… I had nothing but good luck. I am using their services again next week for a 3 week trip to France, so I will let you know how I fare…

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