The Digital Nomad ‘s Guide to Staying Connected to the Internet – Airalo

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Imagine you’re someone who travels the world while making a living online. You might be sipping coffee in a cozy Parisian café one week and exploring the vibrant streets of Bangkok the next. For digital nomads like you, the world is your office. But there’s one catch: you need reliable internet, wherever you are.

Let’s be honest, though—not everyone who hits the road is a tech guru, and you shouldn’t have to be. This guide is crafted to help you stay connected effortlessly, ensuring you can work, communicate, and relax without the stress of hunting for good Wi-Fi. Whether you’re a seasoned nomad or just starting out, we’ve got the tips and tools you’ll need to stay plugged into the digital world seamlessly.

1. eSIMs: The Seamless Way to Stay Connected Globally

An eSIM (Embedded Subscriber Identity Module) is a digital SIM that allows you to activate a cellular plan from your carrier without the need for a physical SIM card. Integrated directly into your device, eSIMs enable you to switch operators with ease, making them ideal for frequent travelers.

Benefits and Challenges


  • Hassle-Free Switching: Easily switch between different network providers without the physical swapping of SIM cards.
  • Supports Multiple Plans: Manage multiple phone numbers and carrier plans on the same device.
  • Saves Physical Space: Eliminates the need for multiple SIM slots, allowing for smaller and more compact device designs.


  • Compatibility Issues: Not all devices support eSIM technology yet. (See international sim cards)
  • Limited Carrier Support: Some carriers do not offer eSIM services, which can be restrictive depending on your location.
  • Complex Activation: Sometimes, setting up an eSIM can be complicated, requiring more technical knowledge than expected.

Best Suited For

  • Frequent International Travelers: Who need to switch networks without changing SIM cards.
  • Tech Enthusiasts: Who enjoy using the latest technology and gadgets.
  • People with Multiple Devices: Who want to manage several devices without juggling multiple physical SIM cards.

Providers of eSIM Technology

2. Satellite Internet: Connectivity Beyond Traditional Networks

What is Satellite Internet?

Satellite internet uses a network of orbiting satellites to beam data directly to a user’s satellite dish, providing web access. This technology allows connectivity in areas beyond the reach of traditional cable and fiber-optic networks.

Benefits and Challenges for Reliable Internet


  • Widespread Coverage: Provides access in remote and rural areas where traditional broadband is unavailable.
  • Consistent Availability: Unlike terrestrial services, satellite internet isn’t as affected by local infrastructure issues.
  • Improved Speeds: Recent advancements have significantly increased speed and reliability.


  • Latency Issues: The distance data must travel to and from satellites causes higher latency, which can affect real-time online activities.
  • Weather Sensitivity: Signal quality can degrade during bad weather, such as heavy rain or snow.
  • Higher Costs: Installation and monthly service fees can be more expensive compared to other types of internet services.

Satellite Internet Access Is Best Suited For

  • Residents of Remote Areas: Where traditional broadband services are not available.
  • Travelers in Remote Locations: Such as RV owners who travel outside of urban centers.
  • Emergency Services: That require reliable backup communication systems in disaster-stricken areas.

Notable Providers

3. International SIM Cards: Versatile Connectivity for Globe-Trotters

What are International Travel SIM Cards?

International SIM cards are specialized cards designed to work across multiple countries without the need for multiple local SIMs. They provide users with the ability to make calls, send texts, and use data across different countries at agreed rates, avoiding the high costs associated with roaming. While both international SIMs and eSIMs offer global connectivity, international SIM cards are physical and require manual swapping, whereas eSIMs are embedded digitally in devices, allowing for easier switching between carriers and plans.

Benefits and Challenges


  • Wide Coverage: One SIM card works in multiple countries, simplifying connectivity while traveling.
  • Cost-Effective: Typically more affordable compared to standard roaming charges.
  • Convenience: Eliminates the need to purchase new SIM in each destination.


  • Variable Pricing: Costs can vary significantly between providers and depending on the countries included in the plan.
  • Network Dependence: The quality of service can depend on local network partnerships, which may affect connectivity and speeds.
  • Limited Data Offers: Some international SIMs may have less competitive data plans compared to local SIMs.

Best Suited For

  • Frequent Business Travelers: Who need seamless service as they move from one country to another.
  • Vacationers: Tourists who travel to multiple countries in a short period and want to stay connected.
  • Students Abroad: Especially those who move between countries or regions for education purposes.

Providers of International SIM Cards

4. Mobile Hotspots: Portable Nomad Internet on the Go

What are Mobile Hotspots?

They are devices that provide wireless internet access by connecting to cellular networks and creating a local Wi-Fi network. They allow multiple devices to connect to the internet through a single cellular connection, making them ideal for digital nomads who need dependable internet while on the move.

Benefits and Challenges


  • Portability: Compact and easy to carry, they can be used anywhere there is cellular coverage.
  • Multiple Device Connectivity: Enables several devices (like laptops, tablets, and phones) to connect at once.
  • Control Over Data Usage: Users can monitor and control how much data is used, which is great for managing costs.


  • Dependent on Cellular Coverage: The quality and speed of the internet depend on cellular network coverage, which can vary greatly by location.
  • Battery Life: Running a mobile hotspot can quickly drain the device’s battery, requiring frequent recharging.
  • Data Caps and Costs: Data plans can be expensive, and exceeding data limits can lead to additional charges.

Best Suited For

  • Travelers and Road Trippers: Ideal for those who are frequently on the move and need a reliable connection.
  • Remote Workers: Provides a dependable internet connection for working from various remote locations.
  • Families and Small Groups: Can connect multiple devices, making it suitable for family trips or small teams working together.

Providers of Mobile Hotspot Wi-Fi Devices

5. Mesh Networks: Expanding Connectivity Through Community

What are Mesh Networks?

Mesh networks consist of multiple router points that communicate with each other to spread a more stable and consistent internet signal across a larger area than a single traditional router. Unlike standard WiFi networks that rely on a single point of access, mesh networks create a web of interconnected nodes that boost the signal strength throughout.

Benefits and Challenges


  • Extensive Coverage: Eliminates dead zones by using multiple nodes to cover large areas, ideal for unevenly shaped or large living spaces.
  • Self-Healing: Automatically finds the quickest path to transmit data, ensuring stability even if one node fails.
  • Easy to Scale: Simply add more nodes to extend coverage without the need for complex configuration.


  • Higher Cost: Generally more expensive than traditional routers due to the need for multiple nodes.
  • Complex Setup: Can be complex to configure optimally, especially in environments with many obstacles like walls or floors.
  • Dependence on Each Node: The entire network can suffer if just one node experiences issues or is poorly placed.

Best Suited For

  • Large Homes or Offices: Where coverage from a single router would be inadequate.
  • Tech-Savvy Households: That require multiple devices connected without loss of speed or coverage.
  • Event Venues: Temporary setups where reliable internet coverage is needed across a large area.

Providers of Mesh Network Technology

  • Google Nest WiFi: Known for its simplicity and integration with Google Assistant, providing easy setup and control.
  • Netgear Orbi: Offers high-speed mesh networking and is favored for its performance in large spaces.
  • Linksys Velop: A modular mesh networking system known for its strong tri-band connections and user-friendly setup.
  • Eero Pro: Provides robust coverage and security features, with easy expansion options.
  • TP-Link Deco: Offers a cost-effective solution with comprehensive coverage and parental controls.

6. Fiber Cafes: High-Speed Digital Nomad Internet

What are Fiber Cafes?

Fiber cafes are coffee shops or public spaces equipped with high-speed fiber-optic internet connections. These venues are designed to cater to digital nomads, remote workers, and anyone needing a fast and reliable internet connection while enjoying a café environment.

Benefits and Challenges


  • Ultra-Fast Internet: Offers significantly higher speeds than standard café WiFi, facilitating smooth video calls, streaming, and large file uploads.
  • Productive Environment: Often designed with workspaces in mind, featuring comfortable seating and power outlets.
  • Community and Networking: Provides a social setting where like-minded professionals can meet and exchange ideas.


  • Cost: Access might come with a premium compared to regular cafes, either through higher prices for beverages or pay-to-use internet access.
  • Limited Availability: Mostly found in urban areas and tech hubs, making them less accessible in smaller towns or rural areas.
  • Crowding: Popular spots can get crowded, especially during peak hours, which might affect noise levels and seating availability.

Best Suited For

  • Urban Digital Nomads: Who need a reliable and fast connection in the heart of the city.
  • Freelancers and Entrepreneurs: Looking for a semi-formal environment to work and hold professional meetings.
  • Students: Who require high-speed internet for research and online learning.

Examples of Fiber Cafes

While specific names and locations can vary by city, here are some generalized types of places where you might find fiber-speed internet:

  • Tech-Friendly Coffee Shops: Establishments that market themselves specifically to the tech crowd.
  • Co-working Spaces: Many of these facilities offer café-style areas with access to high-speed internet.
  • University and Corporate Campuses: These often have areas open to the public with fiber internet access.

Fiber cafes represent a fusion of high-speed internet and traditional café culture, making them ideal for anyone whose lifestyle or work demands a fast digital connection in a relaxed atmosphere. They provide a valuable resource for productivity and social interaction in the digital age.

7. Co-working Spaces: Community and Connectivity for Professionals

What are Co-working Spaces?

Co-working spaces are shared work environments where individuals, whether freelancers, remote workers, or small startups, can rent desks or offices. These spaces provide the infrastructure of an office, such as desks, internet connection, and often additional amenities like meeting rooms and coffee areas, on a flexible basis.

Benefits and Challenges


  • High-Speed Internet: Typically offer reliable, high-speed internet which is a critical need for digital nomads.
  • Networking Opportunities: Being in a space with other professionals provides ample opportunity for networking and collaboration.
  • Flexibility: Members can usually access the space at various hours, accommodating different work schedules and styles.
  • Scalability: Offers the flexibility to scale up space requirements as a startup grows or needs change.


  • Cost: While flexible, co-working spaces can be more expensive than traditional office rentals depending on the location and the amenities offered.
  • Limited Privacy: The open environment can sometimes lead to distractions and a lack of privacy.
  • Competition for Resources: Popular times may lead to competition for meeting rooms or even desk space.

Best Suited For

  • Freelancers and Contractors: Who need a flexible workspace without the long-term commitment of a traditional office lease.
  • Remote Workers: Who seek the structure of an office setting and separation from home life.
  • Startups and Small Teams: That want an office environment with lower overhead and networking opportunities with other businesses.

Co-working Space Providers

Co-working spaces provide a dynamic and flexible working environment that supports the needs of modern professionals who value community and connectivity. They are a cornerstone of the gig economy, offering not just a place to work, but a place to collaborate and grow professionally.

Securing Your Digital Footprint – Why you need a VPN

VPN (Virtual Private Network) services create a secure and encrypted connection between your device and the internet. This tunnel shields your online activities from prying eyes, ensuring your data remains private and secure, especially when using public or unsecured networks.

Benefits and Challenges


  • Enhanced Security: Encrypts your internet traffic, protecting your data from hackers, especially on public WiFi networks.
  • Access Restricted Content: Allows you to bypass geo-restrictions and access content from different regions, like streaming services not available in your current location.
  • Privacy Protection: Hides your IP address, preventing websites and services from tracking your online activities.


  • Speed Reduction: Encryption and routing your traffic through a VPN server can sometimes slow down your internet connection.
  • Complex Setup: For those unfamiliar with technology, setting up and configuring a VPN might be challenging.
  • Cost: Most reliable VPN services require a subscription fee.

Best Suited For

  • Digital Nomads: Who connect to public WiFi networks at cafes, hotels, or airports and need to secure their internet usage.
  • Content Streamers: Who want to access a broader range of media from international platforms.
  • Privacy-Conscious Users: Individuals who prioritize their online privacy and security in an increasingly connected world.

Providers of VPN Services

FAQ – Click to open/close

What are eSIMs, and how do they work?

eSIMs are embedded SIM cards that allow users to switch between mobile networks without physically changing SIM cards. They’re built into devices and can be activated with different carriers digitally.

What are the benefits of satellite internet for digital nomads?

Satellite internet provides internet access in remote areas where traditional broadband isn’t available. It’s ideal for travelers in remote locations, RV owners, and those who need a reliable backup connection.

How do I find local WiFi hotspots when traveling?

You can use WiFi finder apps like WiFi Map, Avast Wi-Fi Finder, or Instabridge to locate nearby hotspots. These apps often provide user-generated data on available WiFi networks in your area.

What are the advantages of using a VPN service for digital nomads?

VPN services offer enhanced security and privacy by encrypting your internet traffic and hiding your IP address. They also allow you to bypass geo-restrictions and access content from different regions.

How can I find co-working spaces while traveling?

You can use websites and apps like Coworker, Deskpass, or Nomad List to find co-working spaces in your destination city. These platforms provide information on available spaces, amenities, and user reviews.

Are co-working spaces only for freelancers and remote workers?

No, co-working spaces cater to a diverse range of professionals, including freelancers, remote workers, startups, small businesses, and even corporate teams. They provide a flexible and collaborative work environment for anyone in need of workspace.

What Internet speed do you need to be a digital nomad?

The ideal internet speed for digital nomads depends on your specific work requirements, but a minimum of 10 Mbps for downloads and 1 Mbps for uploads is recommended for basic tasks. For more bandwidth-intensive activities like video conferencing or large file transfers, higher speeds may be necessary.

What is the best internet for remote work?

The best internet for remote work varies depending on your location and available options. Fiber-optic or cable internet typically offer fast and reliable connections suitable for remote work. However, in some areas, satellite internet or mobile hotspots may be the best available options.

How do I join a digital nomad community?

You can join digital nomad communities through online platforms, social media groups, forums, and networking events. Websites like Nomad List, Reddit’s digital nomad community, and Facebook groups dedicated to digital nomads are great places to connect with like-minded individuals and share experiences.

Is there an internet provider that provides internet in all countries?

No single internet provider offers coverage in all countries, as internet infrastructure varies globally. However, some providers offer international roaming or partnerships with local carriers to provide coverage in multiple countries.

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