I’ve dealt with a lot of bad Wi-Fi while travelling, especially as I work on the road so I need decent connectivity. I’ve found several hacks to get around it which are really easy to do without needing to be technologically minded at all.
Wi-Fi is great in big cities in Asia, like Chennai or Delhi but less good in the countryside or in other more rural South Asian countries like Nepal or Sri Lanka.
Because of this, I would always suggest doing Wi-Fi intensive things like backing up photos, downloading documents, TV shows, books or music in bigger cities if you possibly can.
When I’m blogging I upload my photos to my post in the city and then do the writing when I’m in the countryside, where it doesn’t have the speed to upload larger files. I also make some of my files (like the google docs of my whatever I’m writing) offline on my phone so that I can still access them.
I also take screengrabs of any visas, addresses or information that I might need from the web. For getting around, I use the Maps.me app so I can find my destination without data. I have Lonely Planet guidebooks downloaded onto my phone as well for reference.
The good thing about Wi-Fi is that we no longer have to use Internet cafes or queue for virus-ridden shared computers in hostels.
Wi-Fi speeds will improve around the world, but we’re not there yet, so until we’re all completely connected, these are my hacks to improve or avoid bad Wi-Fi.
1. Check accommodation reviews
If you know that you need to be connected in a certain place, then search ‘Wi-Fi’ in the reviews when booking, that way you have a better chance of staying somewhere with a decent connection. I check a lot of things on Tripadvisor now, having been burned a few times by bad accommodation and restaurants!
Moving closer to the router improves your Wi-Fi speed, you just need to find out where it is first. If your guest house is not full you could ask to switch rooms or have the router moved closer to common areas.
3. Switch it on and off again
This is a classic hack and it can be your second port of call if you’re near the router but you’re still not getting a good connection. Once it reboots, it should be much better but warn other users before you do it so they can save their stuff!
4. Ask whether there is a back-up network
As hotels and guest houses often encounter Wi-Fi problems, and need a connection in order to promote their business but sometimes have a back-up that they use. If you ask nicely they might let you on it or boot up a second router.
It’s also worth checking whether they have data left, as excessive downloading and steaming can run it out. If managers are on 3G on their mobile device, then they might not know they are out of data.
5. Manually disconnect and then reconnect
This works really well, especially if your normally good connection suddenly slows down for no reason. Make sure you have the code written down just in case it didn’t save.
6. Use the internet at unpopular times
If you’re up early, late or in your hostel in the middle of the day, there are less users on your network – meaning a faster connection for you! A good incentive to get up early so that you can get admin done before or during breakfast!
7. Go to a cafe and use their Wi-Fi or get a data plan
If all else fails then you can leave your accommodation and find a cafe with a decent connection and not too many people in it. Unfortunately, this does mean spending money on food or drink. Otherwise, invest in a local SIM card with a data plan as they can be really cheap around the world.
Many airports now offer data packages as soon as you land, so make sure your phone is unlocked before you set off. If it isn’t, then find a trusted and recommended vendor to unlock it while you’re on the road.
What are your ultimate travel hacks for bad Wi-Fi? Share your tips in the comments below.
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