Before I get further into the pictures and stories from my Italy trip, I wanted to share some of the ways I stayed in touch while I was across the big pond. Since I went with without my husband, I knew I’d need to do at least a minimal amount of checking in. You know, the “hey, we actually made it here” kind of checking in. So here is how I kept in touch while I was enjoying my vacation.
International calling and text messaging. So before I even left, I went ahead and set up my phone for international calling and text messaging. I knew it would be expensive to make calls and text, but worth it if we ever needed it. What I didn’t anticipate was that the second I turned on my phone when we landed, it started doing what smart phones do…using data. I didn’t sign up for a data plan of any type since I knew I could use wi-fi while we were out and about. Less than an hour after landing in Amsterdam on our layover, I’d somehow racked up $200 in data charges. Luckily, Taylor called our provider for me, and got me set up on another plan so that wouldn’t keep happening. They also were nice enough to say they were back dating the plan. So, for the remainder of the trip, I fixed the settings so it wouldn’t automatically use data, and I kept my phone off a lot.
But, if I had it to do over again, I’d research using a prepaid international sim card or phone. The trip crossed over two billing cycles, and in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve incurred at least $200 in extra phone bill charges…the phone calls at 99 cents a minute, texts at 50 cents each and those pesky data charges at a billion dollars a megabyte (I exaggerate only a little bit). I can only imagine if I kept my phone on a lot. I hope by next month’s bill things have settled down.
Without the other things I am about to recommend, I definitely would have an even higher bill.
Skype and Facetime. I got my family signed up for Skype before I left on my trip and I used this a lot to call Taylor. I used my iPod touch and my sister has an iPhone so I could use Facetime to call her too. Using video chat features of both Skype and Facetime, I got to show my family around a couple of the places we stayed. It was also so much easier to have a chat for more than a minute or two knowing that I wasn’t being charged an outrageous fee per minute.
Textfree. One of the girls on the trip showed me this one. It was a free download on my iPod touch, and I could use it to send text messages via the internet, for free. So when a call wasn’t needed, or when I wanted to see if Taylor was free to talk, I could send him a free text message. It was a little slow depending on the internet connection, but definitely better than the 50 cent charge per text I’d incur if I texted through my phone.
Free WiFi. Overall, it was pretty easy to keep in touch, but the key really was finding places with free wi-fi, which all but one of our hotels had. I wouldn’t have been able to use Skype, Facetime or Textfree if we didn’t have wi-fi access. Some of the other girls didn’t call home as much as I did, which I guess is one solution to keeping your bill down.
Do you have any other suggestions to keeping in touch during an overseas trip?
What’s that you say? You want Italy pictures? Ok, here’s a tease from our first stop, Rome.
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