Travel Tip

I recently completed my first big overseas trip as an adult. I had the opportunity to visit Japan in 2007, but this was a structured event with a large group. I learned the value of being able to use a cell phone abroad on my recent trip to Egypt and Germany.

I am an iPhone user from AT&T, so the good news is that I knew I would be able to get reception anywhere in the world with a GSM phone. The bad news is it still costs an arm and a leg to use the thing for calls, and even more for data!

In order to minimize my expense while abroad, but ensure that I retained connectivity I set up a 50 MB foreign data plan on my phone which gave me 50 MB of data anywhere in the world to use for the month that I was traveling. This was great for the occasional usage of Google Maps, or a quick check of email.

The key was to utilize the internet available at the hotels that we were staying in, the Skype application, and Google Voice to stay in touch. I altered all my voicemeail messages before I left to indicate that people should leave voicemails on my Google Voice number. Why? Because if they leave one there GV will transcribe the message and send me an email, thus eliminating the need for minutes.

The Skype app served the purpose of being able to call US numbers for free from any WiFi connection. The added benefit to this was I could call my actual cell number to see if anyone had left messages. This combination of email, Skype out, and Google Voice allowed me to stay as connected as I wanted to be while on vacation, and not worry about things back home because I could be available if required.

All in all I had a great trip, and although this straegy worked great, it paled in comparison to the rest of the vacation!

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