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5 Ways to Stay Connected when you Travel

So after reading scores of ‘drop-everything-and-just-travel’ blog posts you’ve finally done it. You booked that trip. First off, congrats my friend- a wise choice indeed. Now comes the small matter of staying connected. Whether for business or pleasure, the importance of this cannot be underestimated.

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Sure, many of you are probably sitting there scoffing ‘Well I don’t give a shit about Hotmail and facebook when I’m travelling. I do it to unplug and escape my normal life”. Good for you I say. But the thought of being unconnected for just a matter of minutes is, for some, deeply distressing. Alarming, but true. So here are five small words of advice if you fall into that latter category.


One: Google Voice


Often, there will be incurred costs for receiving data on your phone, sometimes even if you haven’t answered. Avoid this by signing up for Google Voice– a service which diverts incoming calls/data and notifies you of all missed calls, texts and new voicemail by e-mail. It’s genius. Users can respond to messages for free (the reply will be sent as a text) and even arrange to have voicemail transcribed by Google!


Two: Get all the Apps


There are loads of them out there. Some of them are free, some you have to pay a small fee for. Viber is a fantastic way of communicating at no cost with other iPhone and Android users, as is Rebtel for making affordable international calling. But the real winner here is the now world-renowned Whatsapp. This service allows users of iPhones, Androids, BB and Nokia to send messages as data to anywhere in the world for absolutely nothing. 250 million are already using it. Get involved.


Three: Buy a local sim


Providing your phone is unlocked, this option may be the most feasible. Often, the cost of calling home from foreign sims is just as much, if not less than using your regular number at a standard roaming cost. They cost next to nothing, and some countries even give them away for free at the airport- with free credit! Well worth the money as you’ll no doubt need to keep in touch with fellow travellers met along the way too.


Four: International Sim Cards


If you’re not smartphone savvy and would rather just keep things incredibly simple, then international sim cards may well be for you. It is essentially just one sim card that is coded to work in any given country, and can be recharged online as you go, though rates are slightly higher than alternative options.


Five: Skype


It may not have escaped your notice that so far the small matter of internet connectivity has been entirely ignored. Well, that’s because these days it’s hardly an issue, online phone cards are easy to use and wi-fi is readily available in hotels and cafés almost anywhere in the world, and out in the sticks too if you have a laptop and the right external device. Skype, is still first choice when it comes to video-calling; free, crystal clear quality (most of the time) and super easy to use, you generally can’t go wrong. It also offers excellent premium services for long-term travellers such as ‘Skype Out’ and ‘Skype In’, which allow users to make and receive calls to and from any landline in the world for $30 a year.


There are hundreds of gadgets, apps and superb offers out there for the connectivity-conscious traveller, but remember that there are also just as many bogus or outdated schemes that will quickly eat up your money. So whichever option grabs you, research it carefully first!



by Josh Taylor

Categories: Blog, Business, Education, Technology

Using Your Smartphone Abroad 1

Using Your Smartphone Abroad

Using Your Smartphone Abroad 1Smartphone technology has more or less taken over the world by this point, and there’s a decent chance that anyone reading this article has one or is considering taking the plunge. For travelers, the decision to do so can be alternately easier or harder, depending on what company and model they choose, what their destination is, and how much data they really plan to use. How do you wade through all of the necessary steps and get the coverage you want while paying as little as possible?

The first step is, of course, acquiring a smartphone. With so many to choose from, this decision can be somewhat daunting. What are you looking for in your phone? If you plan to be doing a lot of traveling, it needs to work on the GSM network. You can also check if your phone is sold “unlocked,” meaning it can access other networks than its default one. If it isn’t, you can get the access code to unlock it yourself from your provider. Some of most popular options for world travelers are Blackberrys, iPhones, the Samsung Galaxy S, and the LG Optimus. However, there are countless other options, and you would do well to research them beforehand to make sure you’re happy with your decision. You can find cheap mobile phones at dial a phone and similar sites, which not only provide a range of descriptive and comparative information about smartphones, but also offer purchasing plans that can help cash-strapped backpackers afford these useful but expensive gadgets.

Using Your Smartphone Abroad 2Once you arrive in your destination, you need to buy a local SIM card, which is an inexpensive chip that fits under the battery of most phones. This allows you to load up on credit for calls and messages. You’ll also probably want to purchase a data bundle of some sort, which could be as small as 50 MB or up to several GB of browsing, messaging, using maps, and accessing other network data on the local 3G network. 3G is available in a pretty good chunk of the world, and offers you unparalleled convenience for reasonable prices. When possible, though, it’s better to save your data and use wifi at your hotel or guesthouse, cafes, and the free public networks that many progressive cities offer. You’ll never know when you’ll find yourself running low on data credit when you need it most. SIM cards are so cheap that you may find it an economical choice to buy a new one in each country you visit. You’ll have to keep learning new numbers for yourself, but that’s a small price to pay to have a functional phone making inexpensive calls.

Using Your Smartphone Abroad 3Smartphones are a great choice for backpackers because of their portability. If bringing a laptop isn’t necessary, or you’re traveling with a partner and can limit yourself to just one, mobiles provide you with all of the convenience (and more, if you get 3G) at a small fraction of the size and weight. If you already own one it’s a no-brainer, and if you don’t yet it can be a great investment. Move forward with the technology; you won’t regret it.



Categories: Technology, Travel Tips