Internet Etiquette on the Travel Trail

“Why is the internet so freaking slow?” (aka NOT working at all)

The famous travel question.

There are three primary reason the internet doesn’t work. A) The internet is down altogether (read: nothing you can do). B) Too many people on the internet at the same time (read; nothing you can do). C) Someone is “hogging” the bandwidth (read: go knock some sense into them and share this post with them).

Those that have traveled long enough have undoubtedly run into the infamous “internet hog”. You know, that guy/girl who is streaming movies, tv shows, or uploading several hundred photos to Facebook while everyone else is fighting for the last remaining scraps of internet bandwidth trying to send out an email to mom, skype a best friend, send a last minute proposal to a client, book a flight reservation, etc.

Internet bandwidth varies from location to location. In London, the United States, Hong Kong or most fully developed countries with a thriving tech sector — it’s pretty darn hard to kill everyone’s bandwidth by streaming YouTube movies on MOST WIFI connections. But in the developing world like much of Southeast Asia, many of the guest houses, cafes, and bars do not exactly have fast internet connections. And don’t even get me started about how slow the internet is in rual Ghana. The thing many forget about wireless connections abroad is that they are not the same strength as in the US. Not even close.

Here is what I believe constitutes proper internet etiquette on the travel trail at WIFI hotspots:

  1. Take a look around — are there other people on laptops using this same connection? If yes, then seek to avoid streaming video if possible.
  2. If you HAVE to watch video, do a quick test and see how long 5 seconds of video takes to load. If more than 10 seconds, shut the video off immediately.
  3. DO NOT stream video if you notice the internet is slow to load sites like CNN, ESPN, Facebook, etc. It’s a sure sign that if regular websites are slow to load, streaming video isn’t going to improve anything — for you or anyone else.
  4. Facebook Photo uploading – do a test of 5 photos. If they upload extremely quickly, proceed with a larger number. If 5 upload slow, don’t upload anymore unless there is absolutely no one else using the internet around you.

When I come across these internet hogs, I want to pull my hair out at times. For lack of a better word, they are “lolly-gagging” at everyone else’s expense. There is only so much bandwidth on any given internet connection. So, to those at a WIFI hotspot where other travelers are using the same bandwidth, please consider the other people around you prior to engaging in any bandwidth hogging activities.

What other internet etiquette do you think travelers should abide by?

PS: I can’t complete this post without calling out one of my best friends, Dan Nelson at Bankvibe, for his infamous “lolly-gagging” habits on the travel trail.

**Photo via Comptalks

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Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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