While traveling the big question usually is how to be able to connect to internet to check local activities, buy tickets, check online maps and timetables — and naturally upload some awesome photos from the location, without killing your budget with roaming costs.
I had failed my quest to find solution to this question before I arrived to Barcelona. I did not manage to find a local teleoperator that I could easily order a SIM card from – and use it while traveling. Language barrier was a little too big – as my conversational spanish is limited to only few phrases and I did not trust myself to work only with Google Translate.
Through google searches I stumbled upon one wifi hotspot company in Barcelona, but it seemed to have folded already. I tweeted also to @BarcelonaHelp – about whether there exists any other operators, but did not expect to hear anything back.
I was positively surprised to get a tweet back, hooking me up with a new local wifi hotspot service provider: Wifivox.
I did not have time to read enough about it before the flight, but as I got to the hotel I read more and liked what Wifivox had to offer. The only problem was that the wifi in hotel room was sporadically working and not working — making ordering the device next to impossible.
I chatted online ( They had integrated http://www.zopim.com chat to the website ) with a person from the company – and agreed to pick up a wifi hotspot from the store in the morning during my morning run — though I could also have had one delivered to the hotel. Even that alone — to get online chat and responses during the night — was a sign of better service than many other company can ever give.
The shop was located on a small street in the city center and in just few minutes I was introduced how to use the hotspot, had connected my iPhone to the hotspot and was doing the second leg of my run.
The device came in a plastic container that included the hotspot, charger and USB cable to connect the device to the charger — but in the end you only need to carry the actual hotspot with you, unless you expect to drain to battery and recharge it while on the go. My experience during the time in Barcelona was that with a constant usage with a mobile phone and a computer the device worked well six or seven hours before running out. With a lighter usage I could roam the whole day in the city and be connected online.
The only downside of using the device all the time was the amount of heat the device was producing. Few times I had to shutdown the hotspot and let it cool down to be able to keep it comfortably in my jacket pocket.
In the end returning the device to Wifivox happened through a envelope left at the concierge service at the hotel – from where it was picked up by the company. Cost of pickup was minimal compared to the time and effort required to take it back to the shop.
So what is the verdict?
As I said during my trip to Berlin during the summer, it is clear that these days good internet connectivity is almost a mandatory requirement for a good trip. Sure you can do a lot of the planning beforehand and check information only while in Starbucks or at the hotel, but the convenience is way worth the price.
Wifivox service was superb – and I seemed to use it even while at the hotel or while at the conference venue where free wifi was provided. Why? Because it worked better and gave me a better throughput than the congested or limited wifi connection.
I highly recommend travellers going to Spain to use the service and get most out of their trip.
See more at http://www.wifivox.com/