The barriers to traveling keep getting lower and lower as the years go by. Flights are getting more affordable, services like Airbnb are lowering the cost for accommodations, and mobile accessories like the pocket Wi-Fi are making it easier to stay in touch while jet setting. Smart introduced late last year its new Travel Wi-Fi, a pocket Wi-Fi made by Skyroam that offers very competitive rates.
I got a unit from Smart to use on a recent trip to Japan to see if it’ll be a reliable internet source while on a trip. I’m the type who usually buys local SIMs when I travel or rely heavily on free Wi-Fi, but we know how inconsistent that latter option is. The Travel Wi-Fi intrigued me because for a number of Asian countries, including Japan, a day’s use of it costs just P390 (for others it’s at P490), which is at least P160 less than if I used mobile roaming on my Smart postpaid account.
You just need to book at least three days before expected departure for Metro Manila customers and at least five days for those outside of the city center to have the unit delivered to you. The unit itself is free if you’ve booked it for at least 60 percent of your travel dates. Those in Metro Manila get the device delivered for free, those outside have to pay P150 delivery charge. When you get back, the device can also be picked up from you. There’ll be no hassle getting your hand on it. And since it’s a pocket Wi-Fi, non-Smart subscribers can use the device, too.
Setup is a simple affair. The Travel Wi-Fi comes in a hard case and includes a USB cable for charging, a small manual, and the pocket Wi-Fi. Once we landed in Japan, I simply powered it on and searched for the device’s SSID, signed into it, and we were live. There were at least three devices connected at a time to it but the Travel Wi-Fi can handle five at most.
It was particularly useful for us because we were venturing to Hakone in the Kanagawa Prefecture, a good two hours away from Tokyo, and we needed to navigate Japan’s complex train system. I was concerned with coverage at first but it didn’t fail me throughout that trip. Even outside of the city center, I didn’t experience any lack of service (except when we were deep in the mountains, which is acceptable).
The 1GB allocation per day was enough for navigation, light social media use (not too much video streaming), and communication, which are the three things I generally use internet for when abroad. My biggest complaint would be battery life. You get at most around seven hours on a single charge. The good thing is you can charge it with a power bank so you don’t have to worry about getting stranded in the middle of nowhere (that is if there’s coverage there).
During the trip, we also used a local pocket Wi-Fi lent to us by our Airbnb host. I’ve noticed the local pocket Wi-Fi was able to pick up signals faster underground (like in subway stations) but the Travel Wi-Fi could hold its own. Battery issues aside, it was something you can easily use in a connected country like Japan.
If you’re interested in booking one for your next trip, you can just search for “Book Smart Travel Wi-Fi” on your search engine of choice.