As you probably already saw from our last blog post, we just spent over a week in Canada and absolutely loved it! If you missed that post, you can check it out here – Oh Canada!. While traveling in Canada, there are many options to stay online using your cell phone; however, we had some requirements. In order for me to stay connected for work, I needed the ability to make calls, have access to email, and have a hotspot just in case I needed to do a demo. Oh yeah, and having Google Maps and live traffic updates was an added bonus.
Here’s a quick list of the options we considered
- Turn our phones off and go off the grid for the duration of your trip
- Go on airplane mode and rely on wireless hotspots (This is what Erin did)
- Don’t change anything and see what happens (don’t do this!)
- Add an international plan to your current cell plan
- If you have an unlocked phone, you can put in another carrier’s SIM card. We looked at quite a few different SIM options but didn’t see a convenient option
- Get a prepaid SIM from your carrier if it’s available (This is what Shea did)
For some background, we are on AT&T and they do offer some international plans but for us, they wouldn’t have worked at all. As you can see from their international options, there is nowhere near enough data for us to stay afloat without incurring a ton of overage fees. If you’re on AT&T and would like to know more about their international plans, you can checkout their International travel packages.
Our Solutions (#2 and #6).
We relied on as much free wifi as possible. In fact, there was a day that we spent about $15 and 5 hours at a Starbucks to get some fast and free wifi. The downside, it was a day that I had back to back demos. In order to do demos, I need someplace quiet and for me, it is in the truck. By using my Alfa wireless amplifier, I can easily get wifi out in the truck 🙂 Just like a puppy, I need to crack the windows open a bit or turn the A/C on.
PRO TIP: If you’re going to be using electronics for an extended period of time in a vehicle, it might be worthwhile investing in a decent power inverter. Thanks to my friend, Matt, a wedding gift saved me a couple times on our trip to Canada.
In addition to free wifi, I also purchased a prepaid SIM card in New York. This allowed me to have unlimited talk and text while in Canada and 6GB of data. However, there is a downside to this… I had to forward my number to ensure that I wouldn’t miss calls but most importantly, I wouldn’t get any text messages to my regular phone number. However, if the message used Apple Messages, I would be fine. Fortunately, it seems that I only missed about 6 text messages. Email, phone calls, and Skype helped close the gap!
When we go to Canada again, I’m not sure if I would still use the above approach to stay connected but we have options!