Many years ago…
Traveling involved having to decide which travel guidebooks to buy, navigating using a physical paper map, and making phone calls from a pay phone or hotel room.
Then came the Internet…
All that guidebook information went online and you could get reviews for everything from hotels to restaurants to activities. From blogs to social media, information was readily available at a click of a button and all you needed to do was press print.
Fast forward a few years and hello smartphones! Now all the above os accessible on the go and you don’t need physical maps because phones have a built-in GPS. With all this tech at your fingertips, the challenge is to figure out how to constantly stay connected while traveling.
There are a few things to think about when considering your options for travel connectivity: Do you need to be able to make calls or is Internet access sufficient? Are you a solo traveler or are you going with a group of friends? Is this a long weekend beach getaway or a backpacking trip across Southeast Asia? Whichever one it is, we’ve gathered 6 options below.
- Activate Your International Roaming
This would be the most direct and simple question. It usually just involves activation via your phone or at a store and you’re good to go. Each mobile carrier has their own packages and plans. The prices also vary depending on which country you’re going to and what services you require.
Pros: Hassle free.
Cons: Pricey if you use it for more than a few days.
Best for: Travelers who aren’t planning to be away for more than a week and need to be reachable by phone.
- Buy an Overseas Prepaid SIM Card
If you’re planning to do a bit of research and planning on the go, purchase an Overseas Prepaid SIM Card. Not only will you have Internet but you’ll also have the convenience of a local phone number to call hotels, restaurants, and your agencies whenever you need. Just make sure your phone is also unlocked and is able to run with other SIM cards other than the ones from your network operator.
Pros: Cost effective.
Cons: You won’t be reachable on your regular phone number unless you have dual SIM phone, not suitable for those on a multi-country trip.
Best for: Travelers who are not expecting phone calls, need full Internet connectivity and are on a budget.
- Get WiFi From Your Pocket
If making phone calls isn’t a priority, consider renting a pocket WiFi router. As its name implies, the device is portable enough for you to just pop it into your pocket and voila! You can enjoy the Internet with this instant WiFi. These are usually rented out on a daily basis and rates differ depending on the country you’re going to.
Pros: Fast speeds and can connect to multiple devices.
Cons: You need to carry around an additional device.
Best for: Travelers who have multiple devices or who are traveling in a small group. Or travelers who need a more powerful and stable connection.
- Rent a Phone
Some countries such as Korea, UK, Japan, and USA have phone rental companies for travelers. They offer a wide variety from basic feature phones to the latest Samsung S7.
It’s an option if you’re hesitant to bring your precious smartphone on a beach holiday where there’s a high chance of it drowning, or if your current phone’s camera just doesn’t cut it and you want something better to document your travels. Just be mindful that with any rented items, damage or loss will incur penalties so be careful!
Pros: You can pick the phone that’s most suitable for your trip.
Cons: You won’t have all your contacts and apps.
Best for: Anyone who needs features that their current phone doesn’t have.
- Search for Free WiFi
Are you the free and easy traveler that doesn’t mind being disconnected every once in a while? If you are, you can always forgo the paid options and keep on the lookout for free WiFi. Most hotels, restaurants, and airports have free WiFi that you can connect to–usually for some information or an email address. Some cities even have free public WiFi!
As with most things, do some research on your holiday destination and the options that are available. Also, bear in mind that the security of free WiFi isn’t going to be top notch so proceed with caution and avoid accessing any sensitive information like mobile banking.
Pros: It’s free!
Cons: Security issues, unstable connection.
Best for: Travelers on a budget who don’t meet a constant and stable Internet connection.
Lastly, if you’re stuck somewhere with no free WiFi and you really need an Internet connection, you could always put on a smile and ask (really nice) a stranger to fire up their mobile hotspot for a few minutes.
Pros: It’s free!
Cons: You have to be a bit thick-skinned and ask favors from a random stranger.
Best for: Travelers who are out of choices and need connectivity desperately.
So which option would you go with for your holiday? They each have their pros and cons and are all suited for different situations. Whichever one you choose, remember no to stress over the options and enjoy yourself.