In French, the letter ‘i’ is pronounced like an English ‘e’ which has the consequence of making a whole bunch of words sounds really adorable. My name becomes “Ereen,” but even more charmingly, “wifi” is pronounced “weefee.” Le weefee to be exact. I get such a thrill asking waiters at restaurants, “Avez-vous le WiFi?” though I’m sure they think I’m ridiculous.
One of my favorite things about the time I spent in Paris those few months, working on my novel, was that I didn’t have mobile service on my phone beyond being able to make emergency calls. Verizon charges some heinous amount for international data, so I made my peace with only being able to have the internet available at my fingertips in certain cafés or in my apartment. Frankly, after those weeks were up, I had shed the impulse to check my phone every four seconds; you don’t realize how attached you are to the constant updates until you can’t get them, whether it’s waiting at a red light to cross the street, killing time on the bus, or sitting at a restaurant alone and needing some social armor. Growing up an only child in a world mostly without internet (we wouldn’t get a home computer until 6th grade), I’d always been pretty good at entertaining myself, but, like everyone else, I’ve become really reliant on my cell phone to keep me occupied. Going abroad and not having it was a refreshing change.
And Jamal and I have managed on every vacation we’ve taken together, too. Belgium, Italy, Greece, Paris in 2012, 2013, and 2015. But last December, when I went to Paris (if this were a drinking game, and you had to do a shot every time I said, “Paris,” we’d all be dead by now) I tried something new: I rented a pocket wifi hotspot. My WebSpot offers unlimited 4G internet for a (extremely reasonable) daily fee of €7,90, and offers delivery at an address of your choice in Paris, or an option to pick it up at their offices in the 8eme, just behind Madeleine. I went with the latter, because renting an apartment I wasn’t sure if I’d have access to the mailbox. The process could not have been easier. I made a reservation online, and picked it up my second day in Paris (my first day was a Sunday, and in classically French style, nothing is open on Sundays). I was pleasantly surprised at how lightweight the little device was; certainly no heavier than an iPod nano, and the battery lasted for almost two days without needing to be charged. I kept it in my coat pocket and mostly forgot it was even there. My Webspot provides you with charger, really helpful and responsive customer service (which I never ended up needing because everything was so easy) and the comfort of knowing that your phone has wifi everywhere you go. Each pocket hotspot can connect up to 10 devices, and the password is completely private, so unlike networks at most cafés, you aren’t sharing it with a bunch of other people.
I still managed to ride the bus and stare out the window rather than at my phone, and the urge to check my phone constantly really did subside despite being able to, which I’m grateful for. I mostly used it to Instagram more frequently; it’s a sign of our times that being able to post three times a day to Instagram was a priority for me, but there you go.
It was an added level of comfort, even though I know the city like the back of my hand, not having to download Google Maps before I left my apartment in case I wanted to explore somewhere new without having to feel nervous about getting lost. I’ll be renting another My Webspot for my upcoming trip with my mom in just a few weeks, but they offer more countries across Europe than just France. Maybe I’ll even rent one for Spain in April!
I was given a discounted price on a future My Webspot rental in exchange for this post, but all opinions expressed are my own. In fact, I reached out to them and offered after having such a great experience in December. Thank you for your continued support!