I can fondly recall listening to my dad tell stories of when he backpacked across Europe in the 70’s. He would occasionally send postcards, hoping that they would somehow make it back home to let his mum or sister know he was okay.
The internet has made it so much easier to travel, allowing you to stay connected to everyone-even if you’re constantly on the go. It has really changed the game for travelers, allowing you to quickly search for directions, load up a map, check online reviews, and even make reservations.
Everything (and I mean everything) is within a click of our fingers. How crazy is that? In this article, I will talk about the various ways you can stay connected during your travels, giving you a few tips and tricks which we’ve picked up over the years.
Get Local Sim Cards
Being full-time travelers, we no longer have mobile phone contracts tied to one location because we move around a lot. Instead, we just pick up local sim cards wherever we go. This, combined with a good data package can allow you to surf the web or make calls locally.
In places like Europe, you can even just pick up one sim card and use it during your travels, even when you move countries. During our last trip, we picked up local sim cards in Spain and carried it around with us in the Czech Republic, Germany, and Croatia.
We used services like Mobile Recharge to top our local sim card with credit. This actually works out better because my Spanish is less than desirable so trying to figure out how to top up my sim was a bit of a hassle. You can also check out companies like KeepCalling to get the best rates for International calls.
If you’d prefer, you can also try the Nomad App to stay connected across the globe!
Make Sure You Take an Unlocked Phone
In order to use various types of sim cards, make sure that your phone is unlocked. If you are taking a phone plan from back home, make sure you check with your provider first. If your provider won’t help you, there are a few cellphone stalls in local markets who can do it for you for a small fee.
If you really can’t get your phone unlocked, buy a cheap one from Amazon which can do the basic things (load google maps and other important apps).
Get a Skype Account
When I first started traveling, I was backpacking by myself for a good few months and every day, my dad would have me either call or send him a message to let him know that I was okay. While it sounds like an overkill, I did it anyways to appease his mind.
Nowadays, we’re lucky that we get to live in a generation where we can instantly connect with people even if they are miles away. Although there are local sim cards, you will 3rd party apps like Skype will let you call with ease.
Before you leave, set up an account, load it up with $10 and it should last you during your entire trip. Skype is also great for emergencies so make sure you have everything set up before you go.
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Look for Local Wifi
Unless you’re on an unlimited plan, to save money on mobile data, you can also connect to local wifi connections during your trip. Nowadays, most places are already equipped with wifi which makes traveling a breeze.
We’ve personally been traveling a good part of South East Asia over the last few years and have always managed to find pretty decent wifi which is good enough to work from.
In big cities in Europe, you can even find wifi spots spread out across the city, making it easy to navigate your way around. We’ve seen them in London and some cities in the US.
Make Use of Messaging Apps
Since most local SMS cost money, you can also make the most out of local messaging apps like Facebook, Viber, WhatsApp, etc. Although you will need data to run them, when you get local sim cards, the cost is usually super cheap.
Currently, we are living in Thailand, paying $15 a month for unlimited data on our phone. We use this to day to day to stream videos, work, load apps, etc.
Carry a List of Emergency Numbers
Lastly, in case you have the misfortune of losing or breaking your phone, it’s best to carry a list of emergency phone numbers with you. During my first trip, I had my parent’s numbers, my insurance’s number, and the number of my embassy written out in a piece of paper buried at the bottom of my backpack. Thankfully, I’ve never had to use it but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
Hopefully, you’ve picked up a thing or two about how to stay connected while traveling! The internet is a great platform making travel not only easier, more accessible, but also safer.
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