Traveling with a Mobile Hotspot Could Have Saved Me From Stress

Another version of this post can be found on the NYC Dad’s Group blog. 

NETGEAR - sand 2At&T Unite Explore by NETGEAR has arrived to assist Family Travel (and non-family travel).

My family travels a lot; we plan a trip for every other month. And when we travel, we like to unplug ourselves from the world.  But there have been a few times in my life when being plugged in could have saved me and my family from a lot of anguish.

I recently received an AT&T Unite Explore by NETGEAR, which is an international mobile hotspot. Intrepid explorers are never more than a few clicks from connecting with the wider world by signing up for an AT&T Account or adding it to their current plan.* So here are the top five ways a wireless connection would come in handy when traveling abroad:

  1. Navigating the Globe, a.k.a. Getting Directions.

When my mother-in-law was a missionary in South Africa, my wife, sister-in-law, and I flew out for a visit. One day, we rented a car and followed behind my MIL and SIL as we drove somewhere between Rustenburg and the Middle of Nowhere. The paved road was thin, but we managed to dodge the men, women, and children that hugged the edge. Then the paved road changed into a dirt road, which changed into grass. And then the road was gone. But yet, the directions that we had printed off ahead of time told us to drive straight. And looking back, I can’t believe we did this. We drove on. Right through the field. There were no road markers or anything to suggest that we were headed in the right direction. Eventually, a dirt road emerged after driving a couple of miles, which turned back into a paved road. And we managed to find our way.

Fifteen years later, driving through the countryside in Spain, a similar situation – only this time the road ended at the doors to a beat-up barn and driving on wasn’t an option.  A three hour drive turned into a seven hour drive. Oh, if only we’d had access to Google maps…

Things I could have done with NEATGEAR –  Downloaded maps ahead of time onto my laptop. I don’t like surfing the net on my phone, so my iPad or Laptop would be handy in situations where cell service is available.

  1. Locating Gas Stations.

Back to South Africa…we had driven out to a national park, and knew that our gas was running low. On the way home, the gas light flicked on, but there was nothing in sight. And when I type “nothing” I mean absolutely nothing. Just African road. We drove on down the road in hopes of finding a gas station and my heart leaped with excitement as we pulled into a petrol station. The excitement didn’t last long. We were driving a car that ran on diesel and this particular station only sold petrol. Since there was cell service, theoretically I could have called someone, but I doubt our AAA membership would have sent roadside assistance halfway around the globe.

And so I did one of the craziest things I have ever done in my life. My MIL drove her car up close to ours while I went around back of the station to find a hose. One of the workers and I dug through a bunch of weeds and sticks to find one. Let me stop there. I was digging through sticks and weeds in South Africa! Luckily, I found a hose instead of a snake or spider. I had siphoned gas from one car to another once when I was in high school, so I was pretty confident I could do it again. The problem was the only hose I could find was thick, and to siphon, you need a thin tube. But we needed to try or would be stuck alongside the road. And so I tried. A short while later, I passed out in the passenger seat of the car.

Things I could have done with NEATGEAR – Located gas stations, brushed up on how to siphon gas.

  1. Connecting with People.

Chaos was all around us. We had arrived in Port-Au-Prince shortly after the earthquake and in the midst of a cholera outbreak. We were there to repair a school and assist a team of nurses that were going into schools. As we waited for our driver to pick us up from the airport, women and children yelled from behind the fence, pleading for money. Porters, at least that’s what they said they were, stood guard with us next to our crates of belongings. And they weren’t supposed to be with us and the longer they waited with us, the angrier they got.

So there we stood in the midst of a sea of people bumping and asking for money, food, etc. It wasn’t just that we were waiting, we had no idea who was picking us up and we had no way of connecting with that person. In fact, we weren’t even sure of his name. We were tired from standing in the hot Haiti heat, when we saw, sitting on a suitcase, an elderly missionary who waved us over. She allowed someone from the group to use her phone and we were able to contact the school. We were given instructions on where to meet our ride and we were on our way.

Driving around Haiti in the back of a truck
Driving around Haiti in the back of a truck

How NETGEAR could have saved us – Searched contact information, Skyped with the school over my laptop.

  1. Translation Services

 Sometimes, the best way to spend a day in a new city is to lose yourself in its winding streets. So that’s what I did in Rome (we’ll pretend that I intentionally got lost). But you know what is not a great way to spend a day in the city? Limping around because you have blisters and you don’t know how to ask in Italian for bandages at the pharmacy. And just try to pantomime that one.

How NETGEAR could have saved me – Located a pharmacy, translated English to Italian, Uber’d a car to take me back to the hotel.

  1. Escaping Boredom

My family loves to camp. I do not. We go camping. A lot. After one day of communing with nature I want to poke my eyes out with sticks, I’m so bored. After one week, I’m babbling to myself and my wife is wiping drool from my chin. If only I had a way of entertaining myself for a few minutes after the kids are asleep. If only I could mindlessly watch YouTube for a little while. If only I could check the scores for the college football games I’m missing.

How NETGEAR could save me – Connect me to the rest of society, albeit briefly and watch Netflix’s Daredevil on my large screened laptop.



*The NETGEAR  4G LTE/4G device from AT&T requires access to 4G cell service.


If I had had NETGEAR  4G LTE/4G device (Where available) from AT&T, I would have saved a lot of stress over the years and the bald spot on the back of my head probably wouldn’t have spread so rapidly. NETGEAR would have allowed me me find gas stations, connect me with others, or look up how to ask for a Band-Aid in Italian. (It’s Cerotto for those interested.)

Recently on a trip to the Caribbean, my new device accompanied me. Luckily I didn’t need it to find my way home or a gas station. I did, however, need it to check on my beloved Mets and watch some ESPN highlights on my iPad.  My kids were off playing in the sand and so I used that time to twist my body in a way that made it look like I was reading a book. Don’t tell them I was watching Sportscenter.

And since I didn’t want to use minutes on my smart phone, I used the service to post some sweet pics of my vacation.


In July, I am going to be hiking 84 miles along Hadrian’s Wall in England with 12 other dad bloggers for a charity. I’ll also be away from my family for a full week. That will be difficult for this stay-at-home dad. My plan is to bring AT&T Unite Explore by NETGEAR  and my laptop with me so that I can Skype with my family and maybe post a few blog posts along the way.

Other reasons to have this product in your travel bag:

  • No slow WiFi due to public connections when traveling abroad.
  • Parents can protect kids through content filtering. (A huge bonus for my house!)
  • Device also can be used to charge smartphone.
  • Device is dustproof, water and shock resistant.
  • Up to 15 devices can be connected.
  • Over 20 hours of battery life.

Still not sure exactly what this device does?  Watch this…then you’ll fully get it:

Connect with WiFi Family on social media

WiFi Family on Facebook

WiFi Family on Pinterest

WiFi Family on Youtube

@WiFiFamily onTwitter

To see what other dad bloggers are saying about AT&T Unite Explore by NETGEAR, search for #RuggedWifi on Twitter.

Disclaimer: I have partnered with Life of Dad   and NETGEAR for this promotion.

Edited: 05/20/2016 to clarify nature of services.

Oh, and one more thing. The other day the weather was too beautiful to stay inside. Since my kids are homeschooled, we took our lessons to the river. Two of our lessons (History and Spanish) required internet access. After a picnic lunch, we finished our schooling in the sun with the use of an iPad.

Also Read: The World is a Classroom with AT&T Unite Explore by NETGEAR

Using Unite Explore by NETGEAR for a homeschool lesson outdoors
Using Unite Explore by NETGEAR for a homeschool lesson outdoors



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