Travel Hack for the Technically Challenged

Up in the Air

     Traveling is a necessity, especially for writers. Getting outside of one's culture far from the comfort zone makes for incredible life experiences. Living an exciting life is important for storytellers. Some of my best characters and plots were based on the people I'd met and things I'd seen or done while abroad. 

     The point of traveling for some people is to unplug. For those who still need to talk to friends, co-workers and family back home without breaking the bank, I've got some tips. Having a through line to home gives peace of mind in case of an emergency. What if one ends up in a foreign jail or needs medical assistance?

     Anyone who has ever gotten a text message while traveling knows mobile service providers don’t have affordable roaming options. If you use your phone while out of network you'll end up paying a hefty sum of money. Wouldn’t you rather put that money toward a wild and crazy new experience like strapping on a Wingsuit and flying across the mountains in Norway, or renting a boat and snorkeling with jellyfish in Jamaica? 

     Here is how you can save your money. Put it aside for future adventures. For those of you who are tech saavy, ignore this post. I'm sure you already know all the tricks in my bag. For the rest of you, mobile innovations have come a long way, meaning there are several ways to stay connected for free. This advice doesn’t apply strictly to traveling. You can apply these methods if you’re trying to cut down on minutes or want to chat with long distance family members or friends. If you've got an iPhone, I've got a solution. If you’ve got another type of smart phone, then Google has a solution. A quick search will give you the information necessary to make free calls and texts from your mobile device.

     First, make sure to restrict your iPhone so that it will only use Wi-Fi. This will keep it from roaming. To do this, go into settings>cellular, then turn off cellular data. Connect to a public or private Wi-Fi network if you can get a password. This will force all calls, web browsing, text messaging, and data to use whatever Wi-Fi network you’re connected to instead of your mobile service provider’s cellular network.

     The next step is to download an app that lets you make free phone calls and send free text messages. My favorite app to use is LINE because I can send photos, voicemails, and videos. There are also cute emoticon stickers that make text conversations super fun. Another app that I like is called VIBER. It has similar features to LINE. I recommend you familiarize yourself with the app before you take off on your travels so when you get overseas you can enjoy yourself and not have to worry about the tech stuff. Make sure you let your friends and family know in advance that they will need to download the app too in order to communicate with you. 

     Setting your phone to function via Wi-Fi only can limit the places where you can communicate. It’s not ideal for those of us addicted to instantaneous and uninterrupted communication. Waiting until we can get on someone's network to chat beats the alternative of paying sky high mobile fees though. And if you get the itch to call someone or go online while you're out and about, all you need to do is pop into a local hotel or Internet cafe and get on their wireless network. This is a small inconvenience to pay for the luxury of global connectedness.