Staying Connected on Your Beer (or other) Vacations
Some of us prefer to “stay off the grid” when we are on vacation, but others like or need to be connected with home base and elsewhere. Whether you are a chronic FB poster, tweeter or workaholic, the good news is that keeping in touch is becoming easier all the time. Every year it seems that there are more and more bars, restaurants and hotels with free Wi-Fi in Europe, in fact, some European cities now offer free Wi-Fi in certain open areas and parks. (On a recent trip to Paris I found Paris Free Wi-Fi available in the park behind Notre Dame Cathedral.) Additionally, better and less expensive options for those in need of constant contact have now become available.
The skinny on Wi-Fi in Europe is this: Europe has a “fair use” policy. What that means is even if you have an unlimited data plan, you really have only 500 MB of data to use per day. After you reach 500MB of daily data you will either be cut off or your speed will be reduced to an extremely slow speed (and when we say slow, we mean escargot slow).
For example, if you are sailing with us on beercation, the barge’s Wi-Fi data plan has to apply these fair use rules. On the barge we will have between 20-24 people who might what to use a “piece” of that 500MB of data each day. Most people on the barge are very good about “sharing” the data, as well as the restriction of 5 units connected at a time. So the barge’s Wi-Fi is basically good for downloading email, but not good for Facebook, or uploading videos, photos or Skyping.
If you think you will need more data, consider looking into a pre-paid plan. This way you can take your Wi-Fi with you as you travel and have it readily available to post or tweet about the breweries, bars and cool sights around town while you are in the moment, check on the kiddies, or call in to make sure your employees are not partying harder than you while you are away.
XComGlobal.com, Keepgo,Tep and CellHire.com are just a few of the companies who can supply you with MIFI units and/or internet data cards.In Amsterdam Keepgo will actually deliver an activated SIM card with a rental MiFi unit to the barge for our guests. The cost of these units runs about $15 -$20 (USD) per day (this includes “unlimited” data plans.)
Cell plans have historically been expensive overseas, but T-Mobile now offers unlimited data coverage, and what appears to be reasonably priced phone calls as part of some of their standard plans. According to their website:
Global Coverage now gives you unlimited data coverage in more than 100 countries, meaning you can email and text as much as you want for free. It’s automatically included in your qualifying Simple Choice or New Classic plan at no extra charge.
In the end, whatever plan you choose, try to remember that the best way to enjoy a vacation is to be present. Be where you are, experience the sights, culture, aromas, tastes, and people while you are there. You can post your photos later, or when you get home. The photos will wait and so will the folks at home. They’re probably sleeping anyway. But when the beer is on the table in front of you- it’s time to put down your I-phone, toast your travelling companions and drink in the glory of vacation!