So, I'm not saying this will be a weekly occurrence, but I'll try to post these every other week or so. I have questions sitting in my tumblr inbox that I've neglected for quite some time! Have a question about travel, music, puppies, whatevers? Hit me up here and a I'll get to it at some point! I might also include some general travel questions/issues we've run into along the way. The first up comes from a tumblr-er!
My travel question is: What is the best way to set up your phone for long term (3+ months) international travel? Do you think it is worth it to keep your same phone or get one when you arrive in the country/area you are traveling? Thanks!
(submitted by a Ms. Anonymous)
AWESOME question, Anonymous. First things first - call your provider and tell them you're traveling. Either way, you have to find out if your phone will even work internationally.
This question is something we struggled with. Ultimately, it depends on what you need to do with it. In general, I think that if you're going to be staying in one place for a few months, you should get a pre-paid cell phone from a local carrier - nothing fancy, just one for calling and texting. However, DON'T leave that smartphone at home. Yeah, it might be annoying carrying two things, but since a lot of countries are amazing with free (FREE - let's stress that again!) wifi spots, you can hook up almost anywhere and check your emails and make your facebook friends jealous by posting a status about whatever cool country you're in [NOTE: this does not apply to the US. The US hates free wifi]. Plus, these days, people double their phone as a camera - so you can't go around without taking photos to post later for not-so-insta instagram. Plus, you need it for all of those mirror selfies you'll take (ahem, above).
On the other hand, if you know you'll be using your phone very little for actual phone calls, you can get by with your regular phone. Call your provider and check the usage charges. They are pretty high, but for emergencies only, it won't be that bad. Also, unless you're doing business I would HIGHLY suggest turning off your 3G/4G data. Those charges can get insane... and with the aforementioned wifi, you don't need it. Also, don't think you'll be able to rely on your phone's map app to get you everywhere - unless you want an $1000 phone bill since that'll pull from your data plan when you're wandering the streets. If you don't want to look like a total tourist with a giant paper map, pop into a cafe with wifi, look up your directions, write them down and go. This is something hard to get used to, but after a while, you'll feel like the world's best navigator and smirk at people holding up a map the size of a football field. The only map I think is 100% necessary to keep on you is a mini version of the metro map - if you know your stop, you can always get back home!
A few other things to keep in mind...
- iMessage for iPhone users is totally FREEEEEEE if you're using it over wifi - then it doesn't count as a text charge and doesn't use your data plan.
- Skype! Don't forget Skype! World's best way to stay connected to friends/fam overseas. Google video chat is also good for this but I like Skype a little better. Also freeeeeee.
- Disconnect for a while! If you're traveling, don't have your head down looking at your phone... look at what's around you! You never know, this might be the only time you're in Paris/Milan/Scandinavia/New York! Also, for the love of God, people, LOOK at the Mona Lisa! Taking a shitty picture of it with your iPhone and then moving on is quite different from looking at the world's most famous piece of art.
Hope that helps!