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Business travel means you’re going to be working. And there aren’t many professionals who can work well without internet access these days.
The problem is finding a reliable, secure internet connection in a country you’re not familiar with. Not just at your destination city and hotel, but on the way there and back.
Here are a few common connection problems every business traveler faces, and how to solve them.
Going online at 40,000 feet
Flights can be long and boring, especially if you’re traveling to another continent. You could be on the plane for eight hours or more – so you may as well get some work done.
Choose an airline that provides in-flight Wi-Fi. Most American airlines offer it on domestic flights, and a growing number of airlines are now offering it on international routes too. Check airline websites to find out which and remember to use a VPN to secure your connection.
Connecting at foreign airports
If you have a connecting flight, you’re probably going to be waiting around in a foreign airport for at least a couple of hours. The more work you get done here, the more you can relax later, right?
Almost every international airport has a paid Wi-Fi service you can connect to. Some offer monthly plans for frequent business travelers that allow you to connect to any of their hotspots for around $10. So you can pay once for Wi-Fi you can use on the way there and back.
Dangers of public Wi-Fi
Of course, public Wi-Fi isn’t ideal for business use. Especially if you’re sending and receiving confidential documents.
Public Wi-Fi networks are known for their poor security. Other users can hijack your browsing sessions and see what you’re doing, or the Wi-Fi provider itself might snoop on your activities.
As a business traveler, you should definitely consider using a VPN to encrypt your Internet traffic and keep out spies. Especially in foreign lands, and when using networks you can’t really trust.
Expensive data roaming charges
Once you’ve finally reached your destination, you could use your mobile network’s data roaming service to connect to the Internet – and probably pay through the nose for it. You could also rely on your hotel’s Wi-Fi, but you probably won’t be there that often.
A cheap and convenient way to stay online abroad is to get a local pre-paid SIM card. In many countries, these SIMs are easy to buy. In Europe, you can often get 1GB of mobile data for less than $20. Prices and services obviously vary quite a bit between countries.
Connecting your phone and computer
What if you want to use both your smartphone and computer, but you’re in a place where you can only connect one device at a time – like with some paid Wi-Fi services?
In these situations, always connect your phone. Then you can use iPhone’s Personal Hotspot, or devices running Android v2.2 or later, to tether your computer to the same connection. Two connections for the price of one!
Keeping confidential files secure
Whatever type of connection you manage to find on your business travels, you really need to keep it secure. It’s not just Wi-Fi that’s vulnerable to snooping – 3G and 4G have their security holes too.
Use a VPN on your phone, tablet, and computer. Hopefully your company has its own VPN. But if not, choose one that’s fast, uses the latest 256-bit encryption had provides apps for your computer and your phone. It’s the only way to know your confidential documents stay that way.