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View Full Version : Travel Communications?



Iceman
09-29-2007, 13:23
If I travel to Europe, The Carribean, Mexico, Canada and throughout the US what is the best device to be able to have Email, Voice and Text Messaging for the entire area?
How about economics?
Size (Not too small to use but small enough to be convenient)?
Reliability?
Ability to recharge, or replace batteries?

I don't want to carry a laptop. I do want to be able to keep in cntact with friends, family and business associates. Internet is nice but most web sites I've encountered don't work well on PDAs anyway.

diversteve
09-29-2007, 14:31
You'll need a GSM Tri/Quad band celphone. And possibly have to buy an Int'l SIM card for some areas. I have a Razr, it works in St. Thomas, Cayman (roaming at $1.00/minute) and in Curacao after changing to the Int'l SIM. To call the U.S. from Curacao was .20/min but if I used the SIM in the U.S. it was $2.50/min. And it's a call-back system, the number is Estonian.

My buddy has a Razr with an AT&T Int'l calling plan, his works just about everywhere. He travels to Mexico, the Far East and the Caribbean.

www.telestial.com (http://www.telestial.com) has some options. I think BlackBerry's also work everywhere.

Iceman
09-29-2007, 15:12
Thanks.

I know what the companies say. But, first hand user experience is often better info.

More?

georoc01
09-29-2007, 17:02
I have a Blackberry Pearl, with the AT&T international calling plan.

I do like to carry my laptop though. It was invaluable when booking my flight out of Cozumel avoiding Hurricane Dean.

bversteegh
09-30-2007, 11:33
As stated earlier, you have to specifically buy a Tri-mode phone. Only certain blackberry models are tri-mode (mine isn't, but provided by my company, so didn't have a choice)- ask before you buy.

I just bought a cheap unlocked Tri-mode phone, and buy a Sim card and rent a minutes in the area I travel in (usually can by sim cards and minutes at airports overseas). I have a world card account with local access numbers almost anywhere - like 25 cents a minute (but you have to hassle with extra access numbers and PIN's).

BuzzF117
09-30-2007, 14:08
At the company I work for our team uses an inexpensive laptop and something called skypephone its prepaid and works out to be around 20 cents a min.

buzz

BuzzGA
09-30-2007, 14:30
I understand the desire not to take a laptop because its bulky, etc but the convenience in the end sure is nice. And as mentioned Skype lets you make all the calls you want. I was travelling internationally for work this week and having Skype saved me. I charged up 10 bucks on my Skype account and most of the calls both around Mexico (where I was traveling) and back to the US cost about 2 cents a min.

FyVe
09-30-2007, 20:13
^ yea i've heard skype can be very useful... a laptop really isn't inconvenient though. you should really consider it.

BuzzF117
09-30-2007, 20:16
Even if you don't have internet access a laptop can be very useful for downloading digital images from a camera and burning a couuple CD's of pics to share with others on the trip.

ccarter
09-30-2007, 20:30
You can get pretty compact laptops these days.. though they're not really a cheap last minute purchase (at least for most).

I have a 13" Macbook and carry it with me on every trip I go on.. though I haven't travelled internationally with it yet.. I've taken it to some pretty remote areas for mountain bike races and whatnot where I was already loaded down (more than I would be for a scuba trip) and didn't really notice it. It fits in just about any bag.. I've been using a shoulder laptop specific bag but just bought a sleeve for the comp and throw it in whatever's available now.

Iceman
09-30-2007, 20:34
Thanks for the info. It seems right now that most of you prefer a laptop with a card. I agree a laptop is really convenient. But, sometimes it just is too much for the light packed traveler.

So, I bought an iPaq. It is a wonderful machine. But, it doesn't have voice and it relies on WiFi for travel communications. With the email provider wars I've been places where there was no one who would allow email transmission; receipt yes, transmission no.

I was told by the local cell company that the Blackberry Pearl will work literally anywhere in the world there is a cell system. It is bloody expensive at $300 plus plans though. With email and voice I'm looking at something like $100/month; texting extra.

But, from what they tell me and what has been posted short of a laptop that is the only practical way to go?

bubba105
10-02-2007, 16:01
While in Figi about 2 years ago, a few people rented sim cards at the airport. Of course you need a cell that's compatable. Mine wasn't but I didn't need to contact anyone. I think they needed to leave a deposit and settled up the bill on the return trip. They raved about how cheap it was.

Scubakraut
10-02-2007, 16:08
Get a unlocked Tri or Quadband mobile phone (Nokia or Sony Ericsson or Motorola) on the web. Depending on how long you stay in your destination you can buy at any convenience store a prepaid SIM and pop it into your mobile phone and have a local number. Calls are pretty cheap. Incoming SMS's are free in most countries other than the US so are incoming calls. I did that when I traveled to Asia and Australia for months I had for each country a local number and SIM prepaid. Much cheaper than if you keep your US number and SIM. Just make sure you have a unlocked phone.

Scubakraut
10-02-2007, 16:20
Thanks for the info. It seems right now that most of you prefer a laptop with a card. I agree a laptop is really convenient. But, sometimes it just is too much for the light packed traveler.

So, I bought an iPaq. It is a wonderful machine. But, it doesn't have voice and it relies on WiFi for travel communications. With the email provider wars I've been places where there was no one who would allow email transmission; receipt yes, transmission no.

I was told by the local cell company that the Blackberry Pearl will work literally anywhere in the world there is a cell system. It is bloody expensive at $300 plus plans though. With email and voice I'm looking at something like $100/month; texting extra.

But, from what they tell me and what has been posted short of a laptop that is the only practical way to go?

Get a unlocked phone and when you are in Europe or whichever country buy a local prepaid SIM card.
Here is a good site you can use to get your new unlocked phone: Bargain cell (http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=xQeEIFwfldg&offerid=125346.10000004&type=3&subid=0)

Iceman
10-02-2007, 18:21
All I found at bargaincell were accessories, no phones. Did I miss a link?

Scubakraut
10-03-2007, 11:46
sorry, yes they may only carry accessories, thought they have phones too. I got mine actually at http://www.cellhut.com/

RonFrank
10-03-2007, 11:54
You can get an unlocked GSM phone on ebay. Most carries can unlock phones, but you need a GSM phone that will accept a SIMM card.

As also suggested Skype is the cat's meow. It required no additional purchases, and $10 will go a long way anywhere in the world. You do need internet connectivity however.

Be VERY careful about using a US carrier in for example Mexico. I've known, and read about too many people who were told by US carries that a call in Coz would run $.50 a minute, or something somewhat reasonable. However when they got their bill, they had been charged hundreds of dollars for a few calls.

As the MX carries were the ones that then billed the US carrier, the US carrier will not refund the charges, and directs the customer to the MX carrier. Ever try and get a refund from a MX phone service provider when living in the USA! :smiley21: I've never heard a success story to date.

Iceman
10-03-2007, 17:06
I just got off the phone with a person who is traveling in Germany. They told me a prepaid SIM card cost 30Euros plus a per call charge. With the US$ being at $.70 that makes voice calls very expensive.

On the other hand the person is using an AT&T Global calling card purchsed before leaving the US at a pretty reasonable rate.

So, maybe I'd better rethink this voice and email thing.

Iceman
10-10-2007, 17:32
Thanks to you who gave me information. It certainly got me thinking and on the right track.

As a result of that and a "sale" by the local Cellular One office I ended up with two Blackberry 8100 phones. The literature says these are Quad Band, Worldwide GSM phones. Depending on the rate plan purchased they will supposedly work either by extending the rate plan to cover the country being visited, or by purchasing a SIMM card in that country. The SIMMs are not proprietary so cost will be the only issue.

No doubt a laptop with a phone card is the best way to go. But for those trips where we don't want to carry a laptop/notebook, between Cell One's cell service and RIM's data service they should work just fine in combination with the iPaqs we already have.

For anyone contemplating a Blackberry be warned that setup is not easy. The rep said it should only take about 20 minutes to setup each phone. Well, the CDs with software and instructions did not read past the wecoming screen so there was no help there.

Then, when getting the information off the RIM servers to install the desktop and operating system it took forever. Max data rate was 30K with numbers as low as 9K on occasion. One file was 45+Mb and the other was about 68Mb.

Cellular One Tech Suppt closed about 30 minutes after I got back here with the phones. So, I had to figure it out on my own. Even so it would have taken a long time because of the software updates (normal part of every installation) and the slow download speed. Total time into the project was about 6 hours.

The people were nice. But, the system was a problem. Now to see if the money and work was worth it.

grslar
10-20-2007, 22:51
My wife gives me a very long leash for dive trips so I have a rule. Call every day and have a phone she can call. I bought an unlocked triband GSM phone through Cellular Abroad (google them). I have used it it Thailand, Europe, the Caribbean and Mexico. You just get a SIM card for the location you are going to. Cellular Abroad is not cheap but it has worked as promised in every location.
Hey, if the wife let's me go, who cares about the cost!