Here are links to our Italy posts so far:
- How we booked our flights to Italy entirely on points and miles
- How we booked our hotels in Italy entirely on points and miles
- Getting around Italy/transportation logistics
- Packing everything in a carry on
- How to stay connected while traveling without paying ridiculous data roaming charges
- Amalfi Coast/Positano/Capri
Avoid paying ridiculous international data roaming charges!
Sometimes the best part of vacation is being disconnected from phone calls, emails, etc. We would like to be able to avoid our phones, but when we are not traveling with our kids, the grandparents (our parents) are in charge. It is important for our parents to be able to get in touch with us if needed.
The easiest and most cost effective solution is to rent a mobile wifi hotspot
That way, we can use FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp, iMessage, etc. to communicate with my parents back home without running up our phone bills.
We first discovered this option in Croatia. When we booked our catamaran, there was an option to have wifi on the boat. It was under 100$ for the duration of the charter. Since Jack was at home with my parents during our trip, we wanted to make sure my parents could get in touch. It turned out that the wifi was actually a mobile hotspot that they loaned to us for the charter. This was nice because not only did we have wifi on the boat, we also had wifi while we were hiking and doing other fun things on the islands of Croatia.
After that, we realized that there are companies in many countries that offer mobile hotspot rentals for the duration of your trip. Our friend who was traveling with us found a mobile hotspot rental company for us to use in Italy. I will give information about how we rented our hotspot in Italy, but if you’re traveling to another country, the best way to find a rental company and the logistics of picking it up and dropping it off is probably google.
Usually there are multiple pick up and drop off points, including designated hotels and airports. For example, we picked up ours at a hotel in Venice. Since we were flying out of Rome on the return flight, we arranged to drop it off at the airport in Rome.
The company we used is called ExpressoWifi and we were very pleased with it.
Pick-up and drop-off
As I stated above, we picked it up at a designated hotel in Venice. The hotel was a short walk from the hotel where we were staying. Picking up the hotspot took less than 5 minutes. There are usually small convenience fees for picking up the hotspot and these fees vary by location. We paid 4 Euros directly to the hotel at pick-up.
When you pick up the device, it comes in a small box with the charging cord and any other accessories you ordered (power bank, car charger, etc). It also comes with a large envelope and instructions on how to return the device to the pre-arranged drop-off location.
We were not charged anything when we dropped it off at the Rome Airport.
How it works
The mobile hotspot from ExpressoWifi is a small device a little smaller than an iPhone. It fits in your pocket or purse. There is a secured connection and the password is labeled on the back of the device. In order to use the wifi, you must keep the device with you. In other words, do not leave it in your hotel room while you’re out doing things if you want to use the wifi.
ExpressoWifi comes with unlimited data. Be sure to check before renting. Some companies have a limit or charge if you go over a certain amount of data.
The device must be charged every night. We found that the battery lasts about 5 hours. ExpressoWifi will rent a portable power bank to you for about 3 Euros (total, not per day) if you’re concerned about losing battery. We did rent a power bank, but you can also make the charge last longer by turning the device off when you’re not using wifi. Just remember that if you turn the wifi hotspot off, your iMessages, etc, may not come through depending on how you set your phone for international travel. We usually keep our phones in airplane mode while traveling internationally since we can still connect to wifi in airplane mode.
ExpressoWifi will also rent a car charger to you for 3 Euros if you think you may need that.
One ExpressoWifi can connect to 10 devices. Since there were 4 of us, we only rented one hotspot.
6 Euros a day for up to 10 days and 5 Euros a day if longer than 10 days.
I received a reminder email the day before I was scheduled to drop it off. In that email, it sounded like we could have extended the rental or change the drop-off location. It also said that if for some reason we needed to return the device after returning to the states, we could send an email to make arrangements for that. I’m sure it would cost you, but if you were running late and had a flight to catch it’s good to know that it’s an option.
We arrived at the Rome airport a little early to make sure we had enough time to find the desk where the device was to be returned. Although the map that ExpressoWifi gave us on the instruction sheet was not helpful, a lady at the airport information desk knew exactly where we needed to go. It only took a few minutes total to return the device.
Here is a promo code!
If you’re traveling to Italy, the nice folks at ExpressoWifi have made a discount code for you guys. If you enter code themilesgenie you will receive a 15% discount off of your order with ExpressoWifi. Happy Instagramming!
For less than 70 Euros total, we were able to rent a Wifi hotspot so that we could stay connected during our trip to Italy. I guarantee you the fees on our phone bill would have been much higher than that, even with an international plan.
If you’re traveling internationally and you need to stay connected, renting a mobile wifi hotspot is a great option! As long as it’s available, we’ll never go without one again.