Thoda Aur

Which is the best phone network for first time travellers to Europe & Asia?

Before I tell you which best phone network to buy, you should know why I got inspired to write this article. Here are few points which I learnt while travelling the Asian and European countries that I would like to share. These tips are best for couples travelling abroad for honeymoon or just out on a date.

After getting married last year I decided to travel to Italy for my honeymoon. I am more of a traveller than a tourist. I do not like having a checklist and ticking the places visited. So I decided to stay in each city Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome for five days each. This way I can visit any place/monument again if I wish to visit it again during those five days.

So that was a total of 20 days. Newly married and being disconnected from the family immediately for these many days is something Indian family is not used to. So we decided to take the Matrix sim cards. Thats where all the drama started. Don’t worry, this is not pro or negative post against Matrix because they were actually good. Yet there was drama to come.

We took three sim cards. One for the iPad with internet connection. We wanted to use Google Maps to find our way through the city and of course Facebook. So one connection just for the internet with 1GB data limit. And two other connections with just calling facility to call our familes and also call each other incase we got lost. Sounds real clever right. Nope its not. These were the most stupidest decisions we made.

Why? Unless you are very wandering types you will never get separated because you are the only two travelling together so you always stay together. So there wasn’t a single instance where we had to call each other to let know where we were. So that point is ruled out. 

Now talking with the parents. You are not going to talk to them while you are sightseeing. You may talk to them in the morning before leaving your hotel or in the evening after coming from a long day. Or you may talk to them from a restaurant while chilling out during lunch. There is one thing in common with all the places from where you will be calling; all these places come with free Wi-Fi. You just need to ask them for the password. Then with free internet you can call your families on Skype or Watsapp. It is so cheap to talk this way that it is actually Free. So this point also ruled out.

So if you look at the practical facts you actually do not need a simcard with actual talk plan connection. Then you may ask what about the internet when you are not in a restaurant. What if I need to access the internet to find ways around the city.

There are two simple ways to find way around the city. I will tell you the non-tech savy way first. People used to travel around the city even before Internet was invented. That was by asking people around. The locals know better than your Google because they live there. You may even get to know some trivia that Google would not tell you. And in all these tourist places people talk English. So you can manage with whatever little english you know. 

Or if you insist only on the tech way then Google Maps provide Offline Storage to store maps and locations. Of course its not very easy to find because its stored inside the menu. See the screenshots below. 

During the Google I/O 2015, Google announced that you can navigate around the city while in offline mode if you store maps on your device starting from end of 2015. So when you are in a restaurant or hotel just store the entire city maps in offline mode for easy navigation. So finding way around city problem is solved. Lastly we have our social life; Facebook. Facebook too offers offline posting now. You can use the App to post status and images offline and the moment you connect to the internet the app posts them automatically with the same time as you posted it on fb while in offline mode. So even the need for internet point is ruled out.

So to conclude all I am saying is that you do not actually need a Sim card to travel to other countries. If you are informed and wise then you can use such freely available services to satisfy your needs to connect to the world you know. 

If you are wondering about the Drama which I haven’t told yet. It is that once we came back we got such heafty bills for the calls made. Matrix had offered us 1GB, supposedly above cap limit and was charging us for a total of 2GB dat. We solved those with few calls but till now, even after a year I still get calls and SMS reminding about the pending bills for the services which we never used. This is the drama you might face if you use such services. 

So just be wise and make use of free Wifi. Ask me if you have any questions so I can explain you with the experience I had. Just pack your bags and travel. There are so many things to see and do in this world. Its not just a small Global Village anymore. Never was and never will be. No matter how better the technology gets.

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