Going on a vacation anytime soon? Check out my review of the Skyroam 4G Mate from Big Sky. It’s a portable pocket wifi that you can bring to any country in the world! Is this the most affordable mobile internet for travel? Should we say goodbye to expensive roaming rates? Read on to find out.
If you love traveling to different countries then you know how important it is to have mobile internet for the entire duration of your trip. Going online is absolutely essential for a safe, efficient, and *ehem* instagrammable vacation. The moment you step off from your airplane, you’ll want to double check transportation options, check Google Maps, look up money exchange rates, book an Uber, or maybe Tweet #justlanded.
The problem is that mobile data roaming costs are quite expensive. Last time I checked, it will cost you anywhere around PHP 550 to 599 a day if you want to get mobile data (roaming) from either Globe or Smart. And that’s just for one phone. What if you’re traveling in a group?
You can circumvent this by buying a local SIM card at your destination country, but that would take a bit of time, since you have to look for a shop that sells data-only sim cards, and navigate your way through the very possible language barrier. Oh, and you need to have local money already in order to do this. This is also a bit annoying for smartphones that are locked and can only be used with your provider (for example: a Globe locked iPhone). Usually, I need to bring an extra smartphone which is a bit of a hassle.
This is where Big Sky comes in. Big Sky is a Travel Solutions Provider and they’ve come up with Skyroam. The Skyroam is a personal WiFi hotspot that provides fast, secure and cost-effective internet service around the world. Skyroam’s hotspot covers 100+ countries, including all top travel destinations. (Japan, Hongkong, Korea, USA, Europe, etc.)
Skyroam 4G Mate Mobile Hotspot
You have two options. You can either rent the unit and purchase daily passes for the duration of your trip, OR, if you’re a frequent flyer, you can also choose to purchase your own unit and then just pay for your daily passes.
If you want to BUY your own Skyroam Hotspot, their 3G unit costs PHP 3,900. Their Skyroam 4G Hotspot costs PHP 9,995. But they do currently have a trade-in program for everyone who bought a Skyroam 3G unit— they get 30% off, effectively making the price at PHP 6,995.
But if you’re like me, and you just go on 1 or 2 out-of-the-country flights per year, renting a unit will be your best option because there is NO RENTAL FEE. Yup, you just need to pay for the days that you will use it.
NOTE: While the rental of the unit is free, they will require a minimal security deposit to ensure that you’ll take good care of the device. It’s PHP 500 for 3G units, and Php 2000 for 4G units. This will be charged on your credit card and will be credited back to you upon return of the unit. :)
How Much Does it Cost Per Day
They charge a flat rate for unlimited daily use. The price depends on which country you’re visiting. Here are the cost per day:
- Php 390 – Japan, Taiwan, Korea
- Php 450 – Asia, Australia, New Zealand
- Php 490 – USA and Europe
- Php 550 – Rest of The World
These are pretty cool considering that you’re paying for a mobile hotspot than can be used by up to 5 devices. So if you’re traveling with a partner or even a small group, you can just rent out one of these and be on your way.
Here’s a list of their areas of coverage:
- ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
China, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Kazakhstan, Macao, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand
United States, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay, Dominican Republic, Equador
- MIDDLE EAST
Azerbaijan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq, United Arab Emirates,Qatar, Saudi Arabia
United Kingdom, Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, Spain, Ukraine, Vatican, Montenegro, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Gibraltar, Turkey
Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Ghna, Uganda
FUN FACT: Your day pass is valid even if you travel to multiple countries in one day! The day pass will be calculated under the clock of the location where you activated the device.
How to Rent A Skyroam 4G Unit
Okay, so if you’re interested in renting a Skyroam 4G Mate here’s what you should do:
- Visit their website www.bigskynation.com and enter your travel details and contact information.
- Choose how you want to get the unit. You can do a free in-store pick-up at Mobile 1 in Rockwell or Alabang Town Center. Or you can also have it delivered right to your door for a minimal fee. (PHP 75 for Metro Manila, PHP 150 for outside Metro Manila). Hassle-free right?
- Choose how you want to return the unit- return it back to the store or have them pick it up from your house. The same delivery fee applies (either PHP 75 of 150).
- Checkout and pay for your daily vouchers via credit card or Paypal. But if you don’t have any of these, you can also email them and pay via bank deposit or bank transfer.
- Pack your bags and wait for the Skyroam to be delivered to you. (If you chose that option)
Big Sky Nation was kind enough to send me a unit for testing which I used for my Hong Kong trip a few weeks ago.
Here’s what the actual Skyroam 4G Mate looks like. It comes in a bright orange box.
The unit comes with an instructional booklet and a charging cord. It’s a typical USB-type charging cord that you can plug into your laptop or mobile phone adapter.
The charging port is located on the device’s left side…
The power button is located on the other. There’s a SIM card slot there but I didn’t have to mess with that when I used it. The unit uses a Virtual Sim Technology.
How it Works
Upon arrival at your country destination, just long-press the power button and you will see the lights in the middle of the screen blink. This means that it’s booting up and searching for the strongest local signal. Give it a few minutes to settle down and once the lights stabilize, you’re all set!
Once you’re connected, a web portal will be accessible via your web browser. It will automatically go there. It has the details of your unit, including signal strength and how much battery is left in the Skyroam. Make sure to read the instruction manual before using the unit so you don’t get confused on the day of your trip.
That’s it! You now have a portable pocket WIFI that can connect up to 5 devices!
And so off I went to Hong Kong together with my family! It was my 3rd time to go there but it was the first time that I went with almost my entire family. The Skyroam 4G Mate was perfect because we didn’t have to fuss with getting mobile data for everyone. They could just connect to my pocket WIFI.
Because I was always online, I easily navigated the streets and MTR system of HK. We travelled with 2 senior citizens and a baby, so I had to play the role of tour guide and navigator. Haha! Or if I was busy playing with my nephew, my brother would just connect to my Skyroam and figure out where to go next.
It was very convenient to use! We usually left in the morning and the Skyroam would still have lots of battery after a long day of exploring. Once we got back to the hotel, it was even a bit more reliable than the WIFI offered in the room. I easily got to watch YouTube videos while connected to the Skyroam. Then before I went to bed, I turned it off. Plugged it in for charging, and it would be at 100% by the time I woke up.
It was really handy for Google Maps, and researching where to go next. I even used it to download a few apps during the trip. I was able to use it in the MTR (subway) though it does slightly lose some signal when we’re way underground and going at high speeds. But nonetheless, it was super reliable during our 4 day trip! The web portal was also handy because it would tell you exactly how much power is left in the device.
I love it! And I would definitely rent one out for my next trip!
A few hotels and Airbnb’s in Hong Kong and Japan let their guests rent out or borrow pocket wifi’s such as these, but we all know that that isn’t the case all the time. I love having the Skyroam with me because apart from the cost savings, it also saves power on my phone because I don’t have to turn on the 4G (mobile data) on my phone. Connecting to WIFI uses up less battery.
In the end, it all boils down to reliability and peace of mind. I love that they can deliver it right to my house before my trip. And it’s calming to know that even before I leave Manila, I know that I can get connected right away once I land in my destination. I think this will also be very convenient if you will be transferring to different countries or backpacking during your trip. You should definitely try it out!
Book your Travel Hotspot with Big Sky Nation through www.bigskynation.com You can also reach them via Landline: (02) 885-7626 or Mobile: 0918-964-7626.
Follow them on social media for updates and promos:
If you’re going to Hong Kong anytime soon, check out my article on how not to get lost! :)
GOOD NEWS: You can use discount code: “CANDIDTRAVELS” when buying passes for your Skyroam. That’ll give you 10% discount! Woot woot! Thanks Big Sky! :)
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