It’s the nightmare of every digital nomad online teacher:  You come to a new place and discover that the internet sucks.

This is exactly what happened to me when I arrived in Prague a couple of days ago.  I had rented an AirBnB room and had told my host that I needed fast and reliable internet. She had assured me that it wouldn’t be a problem. Well, it was a problem. I nevertheless managed to teach all my scheduled lessons.

In this article, I would like to give you some suggestions what you can do when the internet connection at a new place is not as expected.

Where’s the router?

If you’re like me, the first thing you do when you come to a new place is to run a speedtest. Well, don’t panic when the result is less than 1 Mbps download speed. Check where the router is or ask your host when you rented an AirBnB place.

You may simply be too far away or the router’s position isn’t good. In my case, the router stood in the dining room which was behind the kitchen while all the other rooms were on the other side of the kitchen and mine was the farthest away.

Kitchen equipment like a fridge, a microwave, a dishwasher etc weakens the signal. So the actual internet connection was great, almost 100Mbps next to the router.

That way I could solve my problem by sitting in the dining room. Not an optimal solution because it’s a common room and there were two other guests at the apartment. However, it enabled me to teach the two evening lessons I would have had to cancel otherwise.

The better solution would be to place the router somewhere else  That’s what I suggested my host in order to avoid disappointment and problems with future guests.

Get yourself a repeater

A repeater is a small device which picks up the signal transmitted by the router and amplifies it. That way you will have reception even in areas where the signal previously couldn’t reach. If possible, please the repeater halfway between the router and your laptop.

If you have trouble connecting your repeater with the router, don’t hesitate to ask your host for help. Most will be happy that you brought a possible solution with you, they don’t wish to get a bad review from you, after all.

Go to a co-working space

This was my solution for my second day in Prague.  A co-working space is not ideal when you have to teach a lesson. Normally, you rent a desk and are in the same room with several people. And normally, you pay for a whole day. However, there are some places where you can rent an individual office or a conference room by the hour.

I found DeskRoom which offers such a possibility.  Co-working spaces often offer you one free day if you go there for the first time. In my case, it meant that I only had to pay about US$ 10.00 for 2 hours in the conference room and could work at a desk for free for the rest of the day.

Being able to rent a working space is another reason to adjust your rates, by the way. You can’t do this when you teach for US$ 10.00/hour.

Use mobile internet

This is a short-term solution when there’s an emergency and it depends on the country where you are. Unfortunately, Skype uses quite a bit of data. So it will either happen that you reach your limit quickly or that it will become expensive.

If you go to a country you’ve never been to before and are worried about possible internet problems, try to find out before you get there what kind of mobile data packages are offered and how reliable the mobile net is.

In countries with slow internet, mobile solutions often work well and are reliable. If you’re not sure, you can ask  in this Facebook group for digital nomads. It’s very likely that someone already spent time in the country or city of your choice and can give you useful advice.

What about working at a café?

Have you ever had a lesson with a student who was sitting at a café? Then you know how disturbing the background noise is. So don’t do this. You can correct homework or work on your blog while sitting at a café (I’m actually doing this right now) but don’t try to teach from a café. That’s not professional at all.

If none of the other possibilities works, it’s better to cancel the session and offer your student an alternative time.

What if I rented a place for a month and can’t work there?

Did you tell your host about your job? Did you ask about the internet connection and did the host assure you that you wouldn’t have any problems? In this case and if you rented your place with AirBnB, it’s very likely that you can move to another place and will get your money back.

Run a speedtest, make a screenshot of the result and send it to AirBnB. It’s best when your host gave you detailed information about the internet speed during the booking process so that possible discrepancies become obvious.

Do you have any other ideas what to do when the internet sucks? Has it ever happened to you that you went to a new place and discovered that you wouldn’t be able to work from it? 



Author: Daniela

Hi! I'm Daniela - a native German who's living as a digital nomad in Latin America. Besides making a living teaching German, I'm constantly trying to improve my Spanish and Portuguese. On my blog, I write articles for (aspiring) language teachers to help them get started and for people who want to travel the world and make some extra cash teaching offering quality language lesson.

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