Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Setting up a Wi-Fi connection while traveling requires some equipment. I walk through a few options for staying connected in a remote area.

When we travel to our son's house in Montana, we do not have internet access because his modem isn't Wi-Fi capable. Is there a small Wi-Fi router or some other option that I can take along so the iPad and laptop can access the net?

In this excerpt from Answercast #36, I look at the various options for staying connected during a visit. It's going to require some equipment.

Wi-Fi enable a connection

There are two approaches that you can go for here.

  • My recommendation is that you purchase a Wi-Fi access point for your son.

  • That's a device that would simply add Wi-Fi capabilities to his network.

Presumably, if he has more than one computer, he already has some form of router into which he can plug several different Ethernet cables: maybe as few as four, maybe as many as sixteen.

The point being that one of those sockets is probably available and into that socket, one would plug in this Wi-Fi access point.

Different from a router

Realize that a Wi-Fi access point is different than a Wi-Fi router.

A Wi-Fi router combines two functions:

  • The function of a router.

  • And the function of an access point.

All you need here to add Wi-Fi capabilities to an existing network that your son probably already has is a Wi-Fi access point.

Once doing that, then of course you'd be able to use his network and his internet connection through that Wi-Fi access point on your iPad or your laptop.

Cell phone data plan

The other approach (if you don't want to add anything to his network) would involve:

  • Getting a data plan from your local cell phone or mobile phone provider.

  • Make sure that it's one that has appropriate coverage at your son's location.

Then what you would do is bring along that device. It would either be:

  • Something that would turn a smartphone into a Wi-Fi hotspot.

  • Or a standalone Wi-Fi hotspot; often referred to as a Mi-Fi – a very small device that you turn on and it becomes a Wi-Fi hotspot connected to the cellular mobile broadband network.

That's going to involve a monthly charge to have that thing. You're getting a new data plan from the mobile company. But that's one approach.

Check for local coverage

As I said, if you go that route, do make sure that wherever your son's house happens to be:

  • It actually has cellular coverage.

  • It has mobile coverage from the provider you're considering.

  • Or conversely make sure that you choose a provider that actually covers his area adequately – and has appropriate data plans for your use.

Next from Answercast 36 – My headphones stopped working, what do I do?

Article C5596 - July 18, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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1 Comment
July 21, 2012 5:18 AM

These are great travel routers.

Linksys' WTR54GS Wireless-G Travel Router

They are no longer made but you can find them on ebay for about 30 bucks. I have couple of them.
They come bundled in a small hard case with a CAT wire. Very compact for your suitcase too.

I don't know if they allow links to be posted here, but here is a picture and a review.

I carry one of these as a technician. It has helped diagnose wireless issues. Get then while you can.


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