How to stay in touch while traveling? If you are planning a vacation to any part of Asia (and some parts of Europe), you need to stay in touch with your traveling companions without running up a massive roaming charge on your cell phone.
In some cases, your cell phone will not even work (a phone from the USA will not work in most other parts of the world).
If it does work, the roaming charges may exceed the cost of your hotel!
However, you do need to be able to reach each other in case of emergency, or if you get lost. There is a solution.
Upon arrival in your first destination city, buy a cheap cell phone locally.
In most Asian countries, you can get one for $25 or $30 that has all the basic features you need.
Unlike in the USA, their phones are sold separately (not locked into a plan with a provider).
Next, go to a provider shop or even a vendor on the street, and get a SIM chip (also known as a SIM Card).
SIM chip providers on the street are legal and trustworthy.
This chip is a small square device that goes into the back of your phone (see below).
They cost about $5, and then you’re up and running with about 10 minutes of free talk time.
The final step, buy some extra time for your phone use.
This can be purchased directly from the cell phone provider shop, or from any mini-mart on the street corner.
About 2 hours of time will cost you less than $5.
Put $10 on your phone, and you’ll have plenty of time for text messages and talking to keep in contact with your traveling party.
Keep in mind, this is not for chatting about the weather: it’s for staying in touch.
For example, if you get lost in an open market, you can call your friends and say “I’m at the blue gate next to XYZ shop.” They can find you, and your party is reunited.
This is a great safety measure for traveling in a large new city with family or friends.
If you have kids traveling with you, spring for a phone for each of them.
Also, if you separate for the day (Mom wants to shop, and Dad wants to see the crocodiles), it will be easier to hook-up again later by phone.
By the way, you can also sell it back for half the cost when you’re ready to leave… or keep it for your next trip.
The time on your phone will eventually expire, but the phone won’t.
You can use it again next summer, even if you visit a new country.
Most Asian phones will work anywhere in Asia. Just buy a new $5 SIM chip in each new country.
Instructions for inserting the SIM chip:
- Turn off the phone and remove the back piece.
- Remove the battery.
- Handle the chip carefully and slide it into the slot where it clearly fits. There is only one slot.
- Replace the battery and the back of the phone.
- Turn on the phone and set the time and date.
Your new phone number will be on the package the chip came in.
You can also just ask the chip vendor to install it for you. Most are happy to do this.
Enjoy your travel.