Thursday, May 8, 2014

How a techie family travels

For the last 3+ years, our family of five have been travelling with the following assortment of tech gear...
- My work laptop... Lenovo Thinkpad T440s, before that a T410s
- My wife's MacBook Air (2012)
- Kids' laptop
- 2x 3G iPads (gen 2), occasionally joined by a gen 3 wifi iPad
- 2x iPhone 4 and an iPhone 4S
- Nintendo 3DS an assortment of digital cameras (Canon point-and-shoot with Eye-Fi card, and more recently a Panasonic Lumix GX7 that truly sucks at wifi but takes great pictures)

You wouldn't want to be behind us at the airport security checkpoint :) But we have been practising so we should be able to clear the checkpoint in not much more time than a well-rehearsed F1 pit crew.

So how do we connect the above motley crew to the Net? I have had an unhealthy collection of travel routers that I will probably write about in a separate post, but the one that has served us well recently has been an unlocked Huawei E5776 4G mifi router. It's predecessor, the E585 3G mifi router (which we still keep as a backup), has worked well but only limited to 5 wifi devices whereas the E5776 supports up to 10 wifi devices. For reasonably affordable international 3G SIM cards that meet our need, I have successfully used KeepGo in Jersey (UK), Lisbon, and Amsterdam over the last five months. I have also used Tep Wireless in the past for mifi+SIM rentals, but in the last year, they seem to be going through management challenges resulting in ineffective delivery and services.

I have had mixed success with sharing paid hotel wifi connections. The Asus WL330N3G and its predecessor the WL330gE have worked on occasions but not consistently. Luckily, most hotels I stayed at recently, have wised up to the fact that many travellers have more than one wifi device requiring Internet connectivity.

To power/charge the aforementioned devices, I have found travelling with a power strip to be the best option, as most hotels/flats do not have enough outlets. I use an international 6-outlet 110-250V power strip with surge suppression and 2 USB charging ports, that I bought from eBay. It fits easily into my trusty Briggs & Riley carry-on roller board along with a week's worth of clothing. I also have to mention that I have been a big fan of the PlugBug for my wife's MacBook Air power adapter.


  1. Hello Joe,
    Thanks for your blog.
    I also have a Huawei e5776s and I am about to get a KeepGo sim, however I've had issues in the past with non 'real' standard size SIMs (and the adaptor getting stuck inside).
    Did you have any problems when using the KeepGo sim or did you ask for a 'real' standard size SIM to use it inside the Huawei e5776s?
    Thanks a lot,

    1. For the trips mentioned in the blog post, KeepGo sent me 'real' size SIMs (with micro SIM cutouts) so I didn't have any problem.

      An update... for our latest epic Asian trip (which includes a cruise portion), we are not using KeepGo because they stopped supporting connectivity on cruise ships. Instead, I have so far relied on using local SIM cards (in China and Malaysia thus far) with good success and much lower cost than using KeepGo, but a bit more foot work. After this trip, I hope to be able to blog about connectivity during our travel through Asia, so stay tuned!