Even though I’ve been actively trying to spend less time online, staying connected whilst on the road is still essential for me. A career in social media means having to be available around-the-clock, holidays or not, and let’s face it – Google Maps is definitely the way to go when you’re trying to find your way around new cities.
PORTABLE WI-FI DEVICE
In Europe, getting online is thankfully pretty fuss-free for us Europeans, but whenever I’m off to explore another continent, a portable Wi-Fi device is my go-to.
iVideo is the company I’ve been loyal to ever since my trip to Sri Lanka a few years ago. Their pocket Wi-Fi turned out to be a wonderful companion then, and has come in even more handy this time around for my New Zealand road trip.
I love that it lets me avoid buying and switching SIM cards all the time, allowing me keep my own phone number as well as cut down the cost I’d normally spend on data, especially if I’m hopping from one country to another – the Global WiFi with 4G speed and 500 MB of data per day I had with me doesn’t only work in New Zealand, but in 86 different countries across the globe! Plus, you can connect five devices at a time, cutting down the cost even more if you’re sharing it as a group. Speaking of savings, you can use the code ‘SANDRAPOTISEK’ at checkout and save 10% on your iVideo order.
While public wifi isn’t hard to find in bigger cities across the country (coffee shops, restaurants, museums and i-SITE Visitor Information Centres are always a good shot), I often found it very slow, even in hotels, so I ended up using my portable Wi-Fi almost exclusively.
Not to mention it was great for road emergencies too! Once we made our way to the North Island, we quickly discovered our rented GPS hadn’t been updated with any of the new roads (and by roads, I mean major highways) in quite a while, so being able to connect to the portable WiFi and use Google Maps for directions instead was godsent.
One thing to note, though! A pretty large portion of New Zealand has bad signal or no signal at all. Zero, none, niente. You can spend hours driving without being able to go online (or call for that matter), so naturally, the portable WiFi won’t work in those remote areas either.
If you’re visitng New Zealand for a longer period of time (lucky you), getting a local SIM card might be a better option. Spark, Vodafone, 2Degrees and Skinny are the main providers, all offering travel SIM cards for tourists.
I ended up getting one from Vodafone for the second half of our trip, as I had a whole bunch of phone calls to make and their shop was the most convenient to find at a time. It got me 4 GB of data for $49, same as it would if I got one from Spark. Skinny (4.5 GB for $36) and 2 Degrees (10 GB for $49) are cheaper, but harder to get a hand on.
P.S. Do check if your SIM card works before you leave the shop. Unfortunately, it didn’t work in my iPhone even though it’s unlocked and has worked with foreign SIM cards before, but the unlocked Samsung we had with us saved the day.