How We Keep Our Technology Working While We Travel The World.

How we keep our technology working on the road!

As most of you would know, we are addicted to our technology. I’ve managed to cure my McDonalds addiction on the road but I suspect my technology addiction will take a worldwide power shutdown to curb!

We travel with a couple of iPads, 2 iPhones, 3 iPods, a small notebook computer (which we HATE – we should have bought a Mac!), a nokia mobile phone and 2 cameras (one of which we left in England to be sent home).

In Australia most of our gadgets are

prepaid. We pay online at the start of each month and top up when it runs out at the end. Except for Gert’s mobile phone which he needs for working in remote areas we don’t receive bills for our gadgets.

And we thought it would the same in other countries. Australia is a bit backward right? Since we are so far away from everyone else we get technology much later, yes? We suffer through slow internet connections in lots of areas so it will be AWESOME in the rest of the world, especially North America – surely?

Welllll…..turns out…..not so much!!

We knew we wouldn’t be able to use our own existing connections due to the high cost of overseas roaming charges. Plus the last time we went to Vegas my phone didn’t even work overseas although Optus had assured me it would!

SE Asia had the best connectivity of everywhere we went. Yes, you can buy dinner for $1 and you still have free wifi!! Your bed is $6 for the night and YES, we’ll include free wifi and breakfast!!

In Malaysia (our first stop) we bought sim cards for 2 of our iPads. We had a connection wherever we roamed. By the time we got to Bangkok, we only bought a card for Gert’s iPad. I’d worked out by then that I only used mine in the hostel (it was too hot and we walked too far to carry it each day). With one connected we always had a map for when we got ourselves lost!!

By Cambodia we didn’t even bother to buy sim cards, just used our gadgets in the hostel and in restaurants. We took pics on our phones during the day and uploaded them at night. Same in Laos and Vietnam. In Vietnam there was free wifi in the street from a satellite – I think we were in Hoi An by this stage. Didn’t even need to hang out near a building!! BLISS!!

Then we hit the States!! And had to pay at nearly every turn for internet!

Most of the cheap motels had free internet but sometimes it didn’t work in our room, only in the reception area. Motel 6 and the Super 8 all had varying degrees of reliable internet. (And very exciting, loud, sex shows going on in the next room – 3 times in one night!!)

On one occasion we went to starbucks, bought very expensive drinks and sat down to discover their wifi was down! Not happy Jan!!

That’s when we decided to get a sim for Gert’s iPad. We went to multiple stores who all told us they didn’t do prepaid. We had quite a few other options though.

We could have bought a mobile modem for about US$120. This would let us connect all our devices wherever we were. Only problem we had to pay for access on top of that!

We could sign up for a plan – derrrrr…we aren’t American. No can do!

AT&T tried to sell us a sim card for $5 and told us we could only connect at the Apple store. We knew this was not right but off we traipsed to the Apple store just for fun. Where they gave us the sim for free and confirmed that they do not connect anything to any carriers unless we buy the gadget from them and it comes with a plan with AT&T. Which AT&T would then activate.

So back to another AT&T store for more stupidity and the final verdict that they will let us sign up for prepaid with our credit card if we pay a $500 deposit. Err…what? $500?? Oh and they won’t refund it for 12 months after you stop using their service!

AT&T are obviously on crack. Or their staff have no idea what they are doing. When we were in Vegas in 2010 we signed up for monthly prepaid with our credit card with zero hassles!!

After DAYS of trying, we finally stumbled across a T-Mobile store with a normal salesperson, who signed us up for prepaid in about 10 minutes!!! Gert was thrilled.

Until we drove across the country on the west coast and discovered little to zero service! We survived that disappointment as we have the same issues at home once we get out into the county. Of course there’s no phone towers out in that barren area! At least we had a map now using the GPS in the iPad.

The big hotels in the US all made us pay through the nose for internet!

In Vegas there are resort fees that include internet access. These range from about US$6.95 per day up to $25 per day!!! In the casinos there are dozens of starbucks – I’m sad to report they don’t have free wifi! Obviously part of the deal with the big hotel just to get customers to pay!! Not impressed!

We went to the McDonalds on the strip and used their wifi instead. Good old Maccas did not let us down anywhere in the States for easy wifi access! It was pretty fast too compared to Australia!

When we moved on to Europe we were back to lots of connectivity but we still had to make sure that wherever we stayed had wifi. Again – hit and miss – and some didn’t work very well. They are getting there though. Houses have the most amazing internet connections. Fast and reliable!! Thank god!

I actually discovered that we would rather do this……..

Pedersens outside the Arch de Triumphe in France

Than play on our gadgets!!

We caught a Magabus from England to France that promised free wifi. It worked until we got off the ferry in France. Then no more wifi! A bit of a problem as we had planned to check how to get to the apartment once we got back on the bus!! Oops!!

So to summarize all of that ramble this is what you should do to stay connected when you travel.

  • SE Asia. Don’t bother to buy sims unless you absolutely have to be connected every minute for business. You will find so many free wifi connections that it’s really not worth the charades you will have to pay to buy and connect the sim. Hotels, restaurants and houses mostly have great wifi!
  • U.S.A. Whenever you book accommodation check that there is wifi and where in the building it works. Check if you have to pay for it as well. Some listings show wifi available but don’t tell you that you have to pay! Very annoying! Look for specific writing about free wifi! Consider buying a prepaid sim from T-Mobile to save your sanity!!
  • Europe. Same as America. Check your accommodation has it and check if you will have to pay. In my opinion you can get by without a sim unless you need to check facebook every single day or need it for business!

I haven’t touched on other things such as skype calls or voicemail redirections. There are a zillion options that we said we would investigate but never did. We’ve actually liked not having our phone constantly ringing and just accessing the internet when we feel like it. I suspect this may spill over into our normal lives once we get home.

There’s an awesome thing called a worldwide sim too. Looks like you can have free incoming calls which was the number one reason we aren’t using roaming with our own sims from home. We didn’t really want to pay every time a telemarketer called us at 2am!!

What do you do when you travel? Do you turn your gadgets off unless you need them or do you rush around a new country trying to find a sim card to get connected?

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