By Jess @JessTripelio, who keeps a wonderful travel blog with lots of useful information for places near and far. Thank you for reviving my rusty blog, Jess!
Thanks to Katya for allowing me to write my piece of advice regarding internet connectivity in her homeland. If you haven’t already checked it out, you’ll also want to have a read through her list of useful tips for visitors to Bulgaria, as well as all the other informative, well-written and illustrated articles on her blog! I’m really pleased to be here.
The internet has revolutionized the way we travel, allowing us to keep in contact with friends and family back home, look up new places to visit and much, much more. It’s not always easy to find public WiFi spots in new places though, and you don’t want to waste time on your trip trying to scout out WiFi hotspots. If you’re headed to Bulgaria in the near future though, fear not: public WiFi networks are relatively easy to come by. Here are some tips to finding public WiFi during your time in Bulgaria:
- Use the WiFi Finder app.
Believe it or not, Sofia, Sunny Beach and certain other spots around Bulgaria offer free WiFi access without your even having to look too hard for them! You may not be able to access the networks from all parts of the area, but if you’re traveling with a smartphone or tablet, you can use this app to find open WiFi networks in your vicinity. You’ll be able to search on a map, so you can easily find which hotspots are closest to you and look up directions to take you there.
- Head to a place that you know has WiFi.
If you can’t seem to find WiFi anywhere else, you know that you can generally count on finding WiFi at Starbucks, other coffee shops or hotel chains. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a customer either. You might be able to connect to their networks from out in front of their building, or you might be able to play “clueless tourist” in the lobby of the hotel for a little while (just act like you belong). If all you’re looking for is to send a quick email home, these could be your best bet since they’re generally in prominent locations.
- Select accommodation that offers WiFi.
Unless you’re really out in the middle of nowhere (and oftentimes, not even then), you should be able to find a place to stay the night that offers WiFi (or at least offers a business center where you can access the internet through their computers). If in doubt, it’s worth calling ahead. Again, you don’t want to waste time trying to find an internet café or other WiFi source. Plus, it’s nice to be able to kick back in the evenings and shoot out some emails or stream some Netflix after a long day wandering about—just make sure to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to get around the site’s location-based restrictions.
- Turn your smartphone into a mobile hotspot.
If you’re really at a loss for finding public WiFi networks and you have a data plan on your smartphone, you can experiment with turning your phone into a mobile hotspot that shares your data connection with your computer or tablet. It’s also a great way to get a better connection, especially if you’re staying in a busy hostel or rural area. Often, your data connection will be stronger than the available WiFi source if there are multiple people using the internet at once. And don’t worry, you don’t have to have a lot of tech savvy in order to set this up; it’ll only take you a few minutes!
- But be safe on public WiFi.
The thing is, hackers often target travelers who tend not to realize there’s been an issue with their account until it’s too late. It can happen anywhere, even back home, but especially when you’re on holiday, you want to make sure your passwords, banking information and other personal information stays secure. That VPN that’ll let you watch Netflix (by hiding your true location) is also a great way to safeguard your information, because it’ll encrypt your web traffic and make it incredibly difficult for hackers to intercept and interpret. So it’s a definite must any time you’re accessing WiFi networks abroad!
Have you traveled around Bulgaria? What tips and advice can you share with other travelers regarding internet connectivity?