Speedtest.net is a really useful app when you’re having a “who’s-got-better-internet-connection” off with your friends or colleagues. While those are always fun, Speedtest is going to be handy when you’re traveling. Before you open up your laptop, rent a seat at a co-working space or decide to buy something at a cafe hoping to get some work done there, politely ask for their WiFi password and run the Speedtest app. Ultimately, it will save you a lot of time.
Speedtest will tell you the upload speed, the download speed and the ping. And it will store all the previous tests in a neat database.
2. Wifi Analyzer
It’s great when some strange person from an unknown establishment just gives you the Wi-Fi password so you can properly test it before deciding to spend time and money there. But as the remarkable John Green said, the world is not a wish-granting factory (whom I’m not ashamed to say, I’ve paraphrased more than once).
When you’re backed into a corner like this, just pull out the free Wifi Analyzer app. This is not an intuitively designed app so you’ll have to spend some time deconstructing what exactly the developer wants to tell you. The app helps you decide which Wi-Fi connection is the best.
When you launch the app, it will scan all the available Wi-Fi connections and show you a live graph of signal strength in graph form. You can see how a connection holds up when you walk from one room to other. You can swipe left/right to view different visual representations.
Tap the three dotted menu and select one of the networks to see a detailed view of the connection. From the Signal meter screen you’ll get an odometer like view of the strength. Switch between different connections here to see how they compare.
3. TunnelBear VPN
When you’re traveling to an unknown (hopefully exotic, but probably not) place, you can’t trust the Wi-Fi at the coffee place or at your hotel. No, we’re not talking about government spying and all that. We’re talking about basic privacy rights here. And if you connect to an open VPN or a loosely secured private network, you’re putting everything you do on that connection at risk. Someone can be snooping your passwords or your credit card details if you shop online. Using a VPN or a proxy server puts a layer of security between you and the Wi-Fi connection.
Not to forget, using a VPN you can connect to a proxy server in a country like US or UK. If you’re traveling to a country where all your beloved websites or services are blocked, this can be a good way for accessing them.
Some hotels and establishments also put a custom firewall that might block specific sites. VPNs can help you circumvent that as well.
The dark side of VPNs: We’ve talked about the dark side of VPN services before but I’d like to remind you that you should stay away from completely free VPN services like Hola and others. They could be selling your personal data to some third party.
We haven’t heard anything bad about TunnelBear yet but the fact that it has a paid plan that costs only $2.99 a month for mobile users that helps them keep the lights on does make us feel better. They also have a really good Chrome extension as well as desktop apps. Still, you get 500 MB data every month for free.
What’s Your Top Travel Tip?
Do you travel a lot? What’s your top travel tip? Share with us in the comments below.