Sunday, December 25, 2016

Why Fly with Flytpack

I used to travel old school: disconnected from the world, relying only on paper maps and asking strangers for directions, or just following my travel buddies around. But since I started traveling solo, I have found being connected while in another country indispensable. Not because I don't like my own company (I do! I am an introvert!), but because I felt the need to let my family know where I was and how I was doing. I know and you all know that I am no kid (just kid-sized), but my mother still worries about me. Plus I will have all my fingers pointing at me if I get hopelessly lost.

For my recent trip to Japan, I had two choices: rent a WiFi router when I arrive in Kansai airport or rent one even before my trip had begun. I chose the latter. And how? FlytpackFlytpack is a travel WiFi router you can rent out for your trip (if you're based in the Philippines). It is currently available for the Americas, Europe, and for more than a dozen Asian countries. So why Flytpack?

Pre-departure Considerations

Cheap
For the duration of my trip, renting one through Flytpack versus renting one in Japan would be Php 350 to Php 2100 cheaper (not including the Php 2800 deposit Flytpack requires of course), depending on which rental company I choose. But, hey, even with just a savings of Php 350, I could add this to my budget for one meal or something. That was the plan. And then lucky break! Flytpack sponsored the rental for the entire duration of my trip! So the budget for the rental went to my two nights accommodation! Oh yeah! Thank you very much, Flytpack!

Convenient
And then there's convenience. Because my flight was scheduled to arrive around 8PM, there was the possibility of unavailability of devices when I arrive (rental on the spot is subject to availability). Other concern was if my flight got delayed, rental kiosks when I arrive would already be closed: some kiosks close as early as 830PM, the rest at 1030PM. The other option, had I not found Flytpack, was to rent from one of the Japanese WiFi router rental companies online and have it delivered to the post office at the Kansai airport at an additional cost, but the post office closes at 5PM(!), or have it delivered to the accommodation — which meant I'd have to find my way to the accommodation without relying on Google Maps. Finding Flytpack was a godsend. I expected Flytpack to deliver the router to my doorstep a day before the trip, but it was delivered four days ahead! A great relief—I did not have to sweat it out with worry had it been scheduled for delivery just a day before departure.

User Experience

Handy
The device comes in a little denim bag, and in the little bag are the travel router, travel adapter, charging cable, and a little manual all arranged and snug in their own little compartments. The router, though not as small as other pocket WiFi routers, is still small enough to fit in the jacket or pants pocket. On the router, important information are displayed clearly on the little screen: signal, password, number of devices connected, data used for the day.

Battery Life
Although it is not as lightweight as other pocket WiFi routers, it has its reason for its added weight: it doubles as a powerbank. Not that I ever used it as a powerbank. But, point is, never did my Flytpack WiFi router run out of battery. It lasted longer than my body. At the end of every day, even as early as 6PM, I was already pooped and ready to crash on the bed, while the router was still about 60% full.

Connectivity
Up to five devices can connect to the router, but I was traveling alone with only my mobile phone to connect it to so I can't say how maximizing the number of connections allowed and how maximizing the data allocation of 1GB per day would affect its battery life. Flytpack WiFi router (whose partner in Japan is Softbank) was most useful for me to access the following apps: Google Maps/Google My Maps, transportation apps, searching for information, staying in touch with family and friends through messenger apps, and access to social media (facebook, Instagram, etc). I was connected 24/7, even in my sleep! 

Return

It says on the website that the router can either be picked up from or returned to their office or delivered to and picked up from your doorstep. What it does not state explicitly on the website is that its delivery and pickup service is only offered in Metro Manila. You will find out this little fact when you reach step two in placing your order and you can't find your city in the dropdown list. BUT they do accept orders from cities other than those listed, provided the customer shoulders the shipping expenses (delivery and return).

Since there is no pickup service provided for outside Metro Manila customers, I had to go to LBC to have it shipped (Flytpack sent me an email acknowledging they have received the device). Even with this little inconvenience, if and when I visit Japan again, I would still choose renting a WiFi router from Flytpack rather than when I arrive at my destination. Cost (even with the additional cost of shipping for outside Metro Manila, it still comes out cheaper than renting in Japan), convenience, and long battery life for the win!

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