Staying Connected While You Travel
Unplugging from your daily routine is one of the best things about travelling. This includes the mobile apps and social media sites that keep us all connected; maybe a little too connected. Taking a bit of a break from these constant forms of communication and truly enjoying your surroundings is, for most people, the goal of their adventures. Eventually though, you're going to want to let your friends and family know how your trip is going with a quick phone call, a text or by uploading a selfie in front of your new favourite place. Here's a few options to stay connected while you travel.
Unlock your phone and use a local service
For a particularly long trip, it may make more sense to use the phone service local to where you're going to be. Most mobile providers around the world use SIM card technology so as long as your phone does too and is unlocked (your carrier usually can give you the unlock code) these cards are pretty much interchangeable; meaning in most countries you should be able to sign up for prepaid service and put their SIM card into your own phone. Of course, this gives you a different number while you're there, so give your friends and family back home a heads up about the unfamiliar area code calling in.
Make use of Wi-fi!
Most cities have access to free wi-fi everywhere. Airport lounges, your hotel room, restaurants, stores and other spaces typically have a public wi-fi connection that may or may not require a password, and airlines typically have an in-flight wi-fi option that costs anywhere from $5-$10. This is typically the most cost effective way to stay connected because it's usually very cheap or, for the most part, completely free. There's tons of apps that also allow you to make phone calls, like MagicJack, so you'll be able to do more than just upload your latest instagram post. iPhone users benefit particularly from this, as included services iMessage, FaceTime and FaceTime Audio all use internet data.
Add a travel package to your device
Most mobile carriers offer travel and roaming packages that give you a certain number of calling minutes, text messages and megabytes of data to use while abroad. These rates tend to be pretty expensive, but it gives you the convenience of not having to rely on finding a wi-fi signal or local carrier; particularly if you're travelling somewhere that isn't close to a city centre. If you're travelling to a somewhat remote location, find out what the access to a good phone signal (or outside communication in general) will be like, especially in case of emergency.
The most important thing to remember is that the purpose of your trip is to enjoy what's around you, not stay buried in your device (unless you're on a business trip) so while staying connected is important, be sure to savour the sights, sounds and tastes of your trip; and maybe leave the sharing for later!