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Shorty after beginning my full-time freelance journey, I picked up an unlimited hotspot to enable me to get work done wherever and whenever. Recently, I purchased an international hotspot from Skyroam to complement its functionality and intend to share my experience with it in this Skyroam review.
A Little Background: Why I First Bought a Domestic Hotspot
When I purchased my domestic hotspot, I lived in Chicago at the time, frequently spending time on public transit, trains, cars, and airplanes. Getting around in Chicago (and to the suburbs to visit family and friends) meant that some days, I’d be out and about more than in the office and this was a bit of an issue for my fledgling (and busy!) freelance business.
I bought my hotspot from UnlimitedVille, which offered an unreal deal at the time. The hotspot itself was a little over $100 for the (slightly) premium model (their base model was a fair bit cheaper). After signing a two year contract, I was locked in at a rate of just $42/month (though it’s not that cheap anymore, unfortunately). Sometimes, I use it as my backup data plan for my phone when I’m about to go over for the month. In that regard, it pays for itself.
Besides traveling in and around the city of Chicago, I also spend a lot of time traveling to other states and countries. My unlimited hotspot was perfect for anything domestic but had no functionality elsewhere in the world.
The Skyroam Solis X: Do You Really Need it?
After all this, you might be thinking… does a person really need a wifi hotspot while traveling internationally?
To be 100% honest with you, in most cases, I think the answer is no.
I’d say Europe is just as connected as the United States in this day and age (a generalization, to be sure). But, even my most remote travel destinations (thinking specifically about Bangkok, Thailand as I write this) have always offered many options for free wifi in cafes and coffee shops all over the place.
When it comes to this Skyroam review, it’s important to note the full list of the countries Skyroam serves—there are over 100! But why might a person need a hotspot that can work (almost) anywhere in the world?
A couple situations come to mind:
- If you plan to rent a car and don’t want to spring for an expensive GPS rental (for reference, Skyroam day passes cost just $9/day as of this Skyroam review being published).
- On that note, if you’re going on a self-guided tour of wherever you’re visiting and want to be able to map out various destinations. That said, this is best for someone who’s really bad at directions or reading a printed map. Google Maps offers a lot of offline navigation features available as soon as you first connect to wifi in the country you’re traveling to.
- If you didn’t do your due diligence with trip planning and have to look up something on the go and don’t have time to find a cafe with wifi.
- If you’re traveling for work and need to be responsive to email and other online communications.
I’m sure there are plenty of other random situations where it might make sense but these are just a few that I can speak to from experience. 😉
The main point I’d like to make in this Skyroam review is that the biggest benefit you gain by purchasing an international hotspot such as the Solis X is that it offers a certain level of convenience when traveling internationally. For some, this would otherwise get in the way of the digital detox you might have had planned (something I enjoy about international travel) and in that case, you’re probably better off without it.
Unboxing the Skyroam Solis X and travel case.
The beauty of the Skyroam Solis X is that once you purchase this international hotspot, you’re not tied to any sort of binding contract—not even one of the month-to-month variety.
In fact, you can actually get around buying it completely by renting a Skyroam international hotspot for your trip at the rate of just $8.99/day with unlimited wifi access.
As previously stated, day passes are just $9/day and you can purchase access as you need it—no need to buy them ahead of time if you don’t want to. That said, if you know you’ll be using wifi over a few days or more on a trip, you might save money on buying passes in bulk—it just depends on if there’s a deal in the Skyroam accessories shop.
This plan seems perfect for someone who travels at inconsistent intervals but wants on-demand access to data.
Skyroam recently updated their wifi pricing to also include the option to purchase access to unlimited wifi for $99/month. Their website lists this pricing as a limited-time offer, so make sure to jump on it if this is something you know that you’ll use!
This plan seems perfect for someone who’s always traveling and has a lot of data needs.
As if those weren’t enough options to choose from, Skyroam also recently announced a new GoData plan, where subscribers pay $6/month for access to 1GB of data (and you can buy more as necessary). That’s way more flexibility than I’ll probably ever get with my primary cellular provider!
This plan seems perfect for someone who’s consistently traveling but is using their data to check in moreso than streaming entire Netflix movies.
PSST—you can also use Skyroam promo code “TTGA” to save 10% on your order!
Skyroam Review: My Personal Experience Traveling
I first used my Skyroam Solis X on a trip to London, England and Reykjavik, Iceland.
In England, I used it just one day: on a day trip to Stonehenge and Bath. It came in handy when navigating to and from the bus station where the tour met, then on the bus to check email and do a bit of work between stops, then again on the way back to London.
Even on vacation, I’m always representing Tanks that Get Around.
In Iceland, I used the Skyroam Solis X again for just one day: this time for the major purpose of assisting with car navigation. Dan and I rented a car to drive The Golden Circle (a popular route filled with awe-inspiring natural wonders).
Kerið crater in Iceland on the Golden Circle.
In both cases, the Skyroam hotspot worked much the same as you would expect a phone with a data plan. In areas with good signal, it worked very well. I purchased a travel case and found that sometimes it worked better when taken out of its case and placed near a window (or anywhere else where signal would be unobscured).
In areas with bad signal, the Skyroam Solis X was pretty useless but what can you expect?
In extremely rural or uninhabited areas, there’s not a whole lot more that you can do to get wifi signal. That’s the nature of the beast when it comes to wifi and hotspots—not a shortcoming, in my opinion, when it comes to this Skyroam review.
It’s worth noting that setup is just a touch confusing when you first activate the device and set up a Skyroam account. If I had anything bad to say about this product in my Skyroam review, it would be that it’s not completely obvious what to expect, even though setup directions are provided.
Specifically, I had trouble with getting the device to activate to 100% (it was stuck on 92% for at least 20 minutes!) and had to call the company to ask for help.
Needless to say, as soon as I did that, it soon jumped to 100% ready to use and it worked perfectly after that. The issue was that the hotspot needs to be somewhere with good cellular service in order to activate. Note that it can take a few minutes for the hotspot to connect to a local network when you first press the “on” button—especially for the first time in a new country.
Perhaps with this in mind, Skyroam recently launched a new mobile app to help with setup (and to act as a useful dashboard once you’re done with setup).
It’s also worth noting that the Skyroam’s battery life is incredible.
It can also be used as a battery charger for your phone or other USB charged devices. The Skyroam Solis X makes use of a USB-C port for its own charging needs but a (regular) USB converter is provided with your device purchase.
I didn’t use or need to use this feature at the time, which would certainly reduce the battery life of the device. Regardless, after a full day of having the Skyroam on, it still showed over 50% battery life remaining. I found it to be very consistent with Skyroam’s own estimates of 16-20 hours of battery life, or, in other words, your entire waking day of use.
Skyroam Solis Lite Review: A New Hotspot Option
Skyroam is always coming up with new ways to provide value and offer flexible options for people who want on-demand internet access.
I wrote the first version of this update, specifically about the Skyroam Solis X, based on a desire to test out this product for use during international trips. I paid for my hotspot and accessories (including daypasses).
After successfully referring several new customers to Skyroam, they reached out with a paid opportunity to test out their new hotspot:
The Skyroam Solis Lite.
I tested it out during a road trip home from Denver to Chicago (while my fiance was driving!) and at my parent’s house in Chicago, where the wifi doesn’t quite reach my room. I found it’s performance to be in line with what I had previously experienced with the larger Solis X hotspot. In other words, it works great when there’s cell signal and struggles when there isn’t. Which makes sense.
For all intents and purposes, these two hotspots are largely the same. But there are a few differences worth noting.
First off, the Skyroam Solis Lite is just that — light. It’s a slightly more compact version of the original Skyroam Solis X.
Here’s how they physically stack up, side by side:
It’s not enough of a size difference to make it worth buying the Solis Lite if you already have the Solis X but it’s something worth considering if you don’t yet have a hotspot.
I think the Solis Lite would be idea for someone who’s using it on a daily basis and wants something small enough to drop in a purse or bag.
I like the larger Solis X for traveling because the size makes it harder to lose and because the size gives it enough room to offer an extra port, which can be used to charge other devices, effectively making the Solis an additional battery charger. The Solis Lite does not have this extra port and thus cannot also be used as a battery charger by default.
The second biggest difference is the price. The Skyroam Solis X currently retails for $179.99 and the Skyroam Solis Lite currently retails for $119.99. Since both devices provide the same level of quality internet access, the decision between which is better from you will ultimately come down to the device’s physical size and whether or not you want it to also act as a battery charger.
Skyroam Review: My First Trip with an International Hotspot
At this point in time, I’ve only used the Skyroam Solis X in two countries (now three, as of my experiment with the Skyroam Solis Lite).
To be fair, I just got it! Whether I have specific plans for it or not in the future, I plan to bring it with me on all international trips moving forward. Just knowing that it’s available if I need it and that I can purchase day passes as soon as it turns on and connects, is enough to give me a little extra peace when traveling to an area I don’t know well.
Use promo code “TTGA” to save 10% on your order. You’ll be happy to know that your first day pass is included free with the purchase of a new Skyroam Solis X!
Do you have a hotspot that works internationally without crazy fees to use it? Whether you have your own Skyroam reviews or have been using an international hotspot from another brand, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!
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