How essential is having constant internet connection with you when you travel? Admittedly, it wasn’t a big deal for me before. As long as the hotel had wifi, then I was perfectly fine with waiting to get back to home base before doing updates. However, since starting as a freelancer and social media manager with work stuff conducted primarily via e-mail, Facebook, and other SNS, staying connected regularly throughout most of the day has become a priority. And when I’m not sure how convenient getting local sim cards are, I turn to rentals. Today, I’ll share my experiences with Flytpack Pocket WiFi!
I actually found Flytpack whilst checking out the promos for Cebu Pacific Get Go members. They have an ongoing 20% off for reservations made until November 5, 2017. So after asking their very courteous customer service rep all my questions during a chat session on their website, I was confident enough to go ahead and place the booking. In fact, my first rental with them was a last-minute booking as I made the mistake of inquiring only 1-2 days before the trip. Luckily, they were able to accommodate me, and I got to pick up this kit from their airport kiosk:
Initially, this came as a suprise to me. When you visit the Flytpack website, the pocket wifi model you’ll see is the bigger gray-and-white one with 6,000 mHa battery capacity, thus doubling as a power bank. However, do note that they state in the ‘Meet Flytpack’ section of the site that router model may vary. When I asked about this, I was told that the smaller device in the photo above is often issued for nearby countries, while the large white-and-gray unit is often given out for the long haul locations (e.g. USA, Australia, etc.). Not a big deal as they did have that disclaimer on the website.
My destination was Hanoi, Vietnam (Rental Rate is at PHP 260/day), and we went around the city as well as rode a shuttle bus to Halong Bay for a cruise. With that itinerary, I was able to try out the Flytpack pocket wifi in both settings, and I am fairly satisfied with the results. It was raining on and off in the city, and there were some spots where the internet would lose signal. But for the most part, I was able to do my SNS on the go and use the wifi for navigating our walks with Google maps.
Now when it came time to board the ship for the cruise, I had to deal with super spotty internet connection. But in all fairness, you can’t really expect constant connectivity when you are practically out to sea. Even the cruise ship’s free wifi at the dining floor was sporadic at best. I did notice that the signal was more stable only at night when the ship was anchored. From 10pm to the wee hours, I was even able to slowly download movies to my tablet from iflix.
Let me just state that battery longevity will be your primary issue (if any) with this pocket wifi model. I don’t think I got an old unit, but the battery struggles to make it to the end of each day, considering that I don’t even leave the unit on from morning tonight. I also use it mostly for googling tourist attractions, a few social media photo posts, and Google Maps, so it’s not as if I’m an extreme user. By dinnertime, I had to hook it up to my power bank to keep it going long enough to get us back to the hotel. And the power bank I had wasn’t enough to charge the unit sufficiently (low power source).
Aside from that, it was not at all a bad first encounter with Flytpack. When I got back to Manila and dropped off the unit at the kiosk, it was early in the morning before office hours. No one was manning the booth, so I just slid the whole bag into the slot of the drop-off receptacle. Just a few hours later, I was able to get an e-mail notification that my returned unit had been received and to wait 5 working days for the deposit refund. After 7 working days, I followed up and got a speedy response. By the 9th working day, the deposit was successfully refunded back to my bank account.
Verdict: For a trip to Hanoi, I would say that the service was quite reliable. I wouldn’t fault Flytpack for not getting strong signal on the bay as even mobile phones had terrible reception there. Customer service is quick to respond and very helpful, down to assisting last minute bookings. But I still recommend advanced bookings, of course, so that they can set aside a unit for you.
To be continued… Stick around to see another trip where I was able to use the big, white Flytpack unit! Reviewing that soon.