A year ago, I traveled to Australia and decided to rely solely on Wifi for phone access. I went crazy! I was always checking for public Wifi and as soon as I got home, I had to check in with the world. Needless to stay, this drove my husband nuts!
So when I went to Canada for work, I had a game plan on how to stay connected. Here are my tips:
Research International Plans
Check out what your phone plan offers first – you might be surprised. I have Verizon and chose the one month Canada & Mexico 100 Talk, Text & Data which gives me exactly that – 100 minutes, 100 texts, 100 MB data for $15.
If I wanted to use my phone like usual in the US, I could pay $2/day. Since I knew I could jump on Wifi at home and at work, I decided the 100 plan could work for me.
If you’re going international, I definitely recommend looking at what your options are. 100 MB isn’t much, but was helpful if I was out and about and really needed data.
If you’re in a public place, check to see if there’s an open Wifi network. If you’re in a restaurant and there’s a password, ask your waiter. Starbucks and McDonald’s always have free Wifi, and any coffee shop can be a good bet.
Some hotel lobbies will have a free Wifi network and seating areas so you can sneak in and use the Wifi for a bit, even if you aren’t a guest.
I’ve heard that checking out the comments on Foursquare often will give you the Wifi password but I don’t use Foursquare and checking in in the first place will require data usage.
Don’t forget that a lot of government or city buildings will have free Wifi, especially the library. Some cities even have city wide internet. In Calgary, I was able to use their ShawOpen network for 30 minute guest sessions.
Download offline maps
Downloading Google Maps so I can access them offline saved my life. Before I went to each city, I downloaded the map. I was amazed that even without data or Wifi, the blue dot knew where I was and I could get navigational directions.
I had a rental car in Edmonton, and the offline maps saved my life. I was able to get directions to wherever I needed to go, search for the nearest Starbucks, and never be lost.
Use Messaging apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger
If you don’t have a lot of text messages in your plan, you can supplement with a messaging app that uses Wifi. I personally used Facebook Messenger, which I already occasionally use in the States. It works very much like text messages without using any of my data/texts.
Skype for phone calls
In additional to video chatting, Skype allows you to call cell phones and land lines as well, even if the recipient doesn’t have Skype. There are multiple plan options and you can call using your own phone or computer.
How do you stay connected while traveling?