In this article, we review the Tep Wireless travel WiFi hotspot.
Internet while on the go
For us, Internet access is an absolute necessity when we travel. Without the Internet, this blog and our other online businesses would grind to a halt. Plus, we use the Internet to keep in touch with family and friends as well as stream TV and movies in our downtime.
Updated in 2018! We first tested the original Tep design a few years ago, but switched to the faster 4G Tep over a year ago. Everything we talk about in article is up to date and refers to the new Tep 4G model.
Getting good Internet is a constant struggle when we travel. Airports often charge for WiFi, or have short time limits, and restaurant WiFi is hit and miss at best. Hotel WiFi is often slow, or, even worse, the signal is weak and spotty.
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Using data roaming on a cell is an alternative to WiFi, but roaming costs are notoriously high and even then you’re often limited to only one provider in another country. If you haven’t personally been hit with a sky-high roaming bill after a trip, it’s almost guaranteed that a close friend or family member has.
So what’s the alternative to bad hotel WiFi and high data roaming charges?
We often buy local SIM cards when we travel, but it’s often a huge hassle to determine which SIM to buy, tracking down a place to pick one up and then overcoming the language barrier. Plus, data limits and extra data charges can be a problem.
So how do you beat expensive data roaming charges, hassling with local SIM cards, or scrounging WiFi at airports and restaurants?
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a portable, reliable, Internet that travels wherever you do, at a reasonable cost?
Oh wait, that does exist. And it’s called Tep Wireless.
Tep’s given us special discount just for our readers – just enter code barefootnomad on their website which will get you 10% off! Click here and enter code barefootnomad to get 10% off.
Tep Wireless is a small, portable WiFi device that lets you bring your own Internet access with you wherever you go.
It costs $9.95 a day for unlimited Internet*, and you can connect up to 5 devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops. There’s also a shipping charge, which varies depending on your dropoff and pickup locations.
*Tip: Tep says that speeds will slow after about 350 MB of data use in a 24 hour period. We found that our data speeds were still strong after using around 500 MB, but yours may vary.
Will it work anywhere in the world?
Not everywhere, but darn close. Tep Wireless works in the UK, Spain, France and most European countries. It also works great in the US, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the Middle East, South America, Central America, Oceania, and more plus they’re adding more countries all the time. Check out their coverage info for more details.
How do I get a Tep?
So how does it work?
We got our Tep just before we took off on a three week long road trip across Western Canada, with a bonus flight and week in New Hampshire in the USA.
I didn’t have a chance to look at the Tep until the night before we left, and I unboxed it and got it up and running within five minutes (including the time it took to make a video). This video is of the older (non 4G original model, but the setup and package are virtually identical for the 4G Tep).
What did we think?
During our road trip, I was slammed with work, and the Tep was a godsend. It kept me connected, meaning that I could write blog posts, send invoices, and catch up on my email all while on the road.
The little Tep even saved my bacon late one night after a few days at the lake, when seven year old Jordan could only be soothed by Netflix when she was covered in itchy mosquito bites and couldn’t sleep.
Thank you Tep for that one, especially.
We took the Tep from the West Coast of Canada, all the way to the center of Canada in Manitoba, plus a road trip through most of New Hampshire and then back home again. All in all, it was well over 50 hours of total driving time.
Since the Tep works off cellular data, we only hit a couple of small dead spots on our trip where we couldn’t get a WiFi signal, and those were where there was no cell signal to be found. One was in the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia, and that lasted about 20 minutes of our drive, and the other was a zone of about 30 minutes where we had a spotty connection in Saskatchewan. Given that Western Canada, and especially the Rocky Mountains, are known for spotty cell service, that’s pretty impressive.
2018 Update: We’ve had our little 4G Teppy for almost two years, and we’ve used it on several trips to Mexico and the United States, and within Canada, and it’s worked well every time.
I liked my Tep Wireless so much that I’m truly considering getting my own Tep device (you can rent or buy online) for whenever we travel.
How fast is the Tep Wireless, really?
We gave the 4G Tep a week long trial during our last trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Over the course of a week, the Tep clocked in consistently at a speed over 30 Mbps. That’s a pretty good speed, rivaling a lot of broadband at home internet connections.
30 Mbps is fast to stream video on multiple devices, and plenty fast for email, phone calls, social media, and streaming. Tep itself says that the 4G speed is likely to be around 18.6 Mbps, but we’ve found our Tep 4G to be faster almost everywhere we’ve tested.
What we didn’t like
We had our Tep shipped to Canada, and also returned it from Canada. The cost was pretty prohibitive ($61), but that’s unfortunately pretty standard when shipping to or from Canada.
Other countries are much cheaper. Getting a Tep shipped to the USA costs only $9.95 for drop off and $5.95 for return, while you can even pick up and drop off your Tep Wireless at London Heathrow for free.
Who would the Tep be good for?
Honestly, anyone who wants a stable Internet connection that travels with them wherever they go.
The Tep would be great for:
- anyone who wants to be able to video chat or keep in touch with family or business partners
- people like us, who work online, and need to be connected to keep their business up and running
- anyone who’s traveling through multiple countries, and who doesn’t want to deal with multiple country SIMs or data roaming charges
- anyone who wants a fast, easy solution to having WiFi when they travel
Want to check it out?
Zip on over to the Tep Wireless website. You can learn more with their helpful FAQ, or place an order and have your Tep on the way in less than 10 minutes.
Tep’s given us special discount just for our readers – just go to the Tep Wireless website and enter code barefootnomad to get 10% off!