Data abroad

Next research project: cell phone/gps service in New Zealand

I’m not really concerned about cell phone/gps service in Australia.  There we will pretty much be in populated areas.  However, I am concerned with New Zealand.  There we plan to go off the beaten path to explore.  So I want to make sure we don’t get lost.  I keep going back-and-forth with what we need.  Part of me thinks we don’t need anything additional than the maps we have – afterall – that is how people USED to travel.  Another part of me thinks maybe I should just research this.

I’ve been considering several options.  One is buying the Australia/New Zealand map for my GPS.  One disadvantage there is that then I have to bring my GPS with us.  Another option is buying a cheap GPS in Australia/New Zealand.  Question there is can I find one under $100 and will it work in the middle-of-nowhere in NZ? Additionally, we could rent a GPS from the car rental agencies.  But the cost of that rental exceeds the cost of just buying a GPS.  Another option is just using our cell phones for GPS coverage.  With that both my husband and I each have an AT&T phone, and I also have a Verizon cell phone.  So – what sort of coverage does that translate when in Australia/New Zealand?  Does it make sense to invest in a SIM card once we land in Australia that will equate to better cell/GPS coverage in Australia and New Zealand?  I’m used to buying SIM cards in the countries we visit as data rates are much better than US provider’s “International Coverage” rates.

In the end, I think we’ll opt NOT to get a new GPS or purchase  the AUS/NZ maps for my current 2009 GPS.  Even though GPS make traveling pretty easy, I will most likely remind myself that both my husband and I are good navigators and it will all work out in the end. I actually love maps and sometimes miss the days when people used paper maps more often.

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Day One: Edinburgh

We took a red-eye for Newark and landed around 9:30 AM. We had relatively good seats on the plane – exit row and the middle seat was empty. I think I dozed in and out of sleeping. I did not feel like a complete zombie when we landed but I still remember waking several times. My husband has some great pictures he took of me while I was sleeping on the plane.

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We then picked up the rental car and headed to our hotel in Edinburgh. There was a lot of traffic getting into the city. We finally arrived at our hotel around 11:30 and as expected, our room was not ready. We went to go find an ATM and a cell phone store. For £16 I was able to get an unlimited data plan for my phone and 300 voice minutes. That certainly beats Verizon’s fee for global data which is limited to 100mb. At least now I don’t have to worry about going over my allowance. There were some minor hiccups with getting a SIM card for my phone – for example I basically have a new phone number. So people have to add my number to their phone for certain things to work. I am also having some trouble sending iMessages. However I can still access data and use What’s App with my family. I will look into my problems after I update this post.

We then went to have lunch. After lunch we were able to check into our hotel. Both my husband and I took a nap. I woke up around 4:45 and decided to go for a run. I went for a 4.6 mile run. It felt more like Frogger. There are so many people in Edinburgh right now. August is the most popular time of the year to visit the city. I ran down Princes Street and then ran down the Royal Mile. I then hiked up Authur’s Seat in Holyrood Park. Then I ran back to the hotel and at this point David was up.

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Both of us took a shower at the hotel and then we went out for a late dinner. We strolled down the Royal Mile and eventually had dinner around 9:15 PM. I had a large glass of wine with my meal. Afterwards I had a gelato. I love how available ice cream is in Europe. As we walked back to the hotel there were fireworks in the sky above Edinburgh Castle.

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Some observations I have had so far: Men look great in kilts. I’ve seen one rocking a purple kilt and I saw someone in a camouflage kilt. There are many, many tourists in Edinburgh right now. I have heard a couple of Americans but most seem to be European tourists. Some of the architecture in old town reminds me of The Netherlands.

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Tomorrow we are waking up early and heading south of Edinburgh, then later heading West. My Dutch friend Angie is joining us this weekend so we will need to pick her up from the airport around 2 PM. We are looking forward to her company!

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Categories: Data abroad, Edinburgh, Scotland | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Day Zero: Getting To Edinburgh

The day started very early with us needing to get people to where they needed to be. We managed to say goodbye to the kids,

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and only I shed some tears. We then dropped the dog off with my sister and this time I did not shed any tears.

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My sister was kind enough to drive us to the airport for us to catch our first flight. We made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare. The hardest part was resisting the urge to nap. I’m worried if I nap now that I will be up all night on the plane. So while we waited for our first flight I watched a movie on my phone.

Now we are sitting in the United Lounge waiting to board our flight. It is weird to be on a trip without the kids. The last time we were on a big trip without kids was before we had kids. They have already Facetimed with us twice and sent us text messages. It is nice to be able to talk to them so easily even though they are far away.

Next up Edinburgh! I will post once I can there. I am keeping my phone off until I can get a SIM card and unlimited data plan for it. After I obtain that I hope to nap.

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Categories: Airplanes, Data abroad, Scotland | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Cell phone service in the United Kingdom

Our trip is coming up and as a result I have started to think about the things I still need to do. One of those items is to figure out what to do with my phone.

When we went to Europe last summer the kids were with us. As a result I was not concerned with obtaining a data plan for my cell phone. Anything I needed to do I could wait until I had wifi coverage. This year though the kids are not coming with us. I want to make sure I can still keep in touch with them regardless if I have wifi or not.

So – I am planning to purchase a sim card for my cell phone once we arrive in Edinburgh. There is a cell phone (Three Cellular) store 350 feet from where we are staying. I think one month of unlimited data is only going to cost me 15 pounds. This is much cheaper than obtaining a data plan from my current provider.

One thing you need to check before going this route is to make sure your phone will work with a sim card and also make sure it is unlocked. Thankfully my phone meets those requirements. I am also planning on keeping my phone off until I have the new sim card in it. Once the new sim card is in there I will have a different phone number for my phone. I think I have read that if I have a Google Voice telephone number I could give that out to people and as a result I would not need to tell them the new phone number.

Hopefully there are no complications…otherwise I am stuck to using the internet only when we are connected to wifi.

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Cell phone and wi-fi information

Another item I have spent time researching is cell phone and wi fi coverage. I have read horror stories about cell phone bills when people return from abroad. I am going to do my best to only post and check email while connected to wi-fi but I still want to make sure I have a backup plan in place. My cell phone provider is with Verizon. For $25 a month Verizon offers a global data plan. This plan only includes 100 mb of data….I am used to 2 gb of data a month so this is a pretty big change for me. Regardless, I think this data plan will at least help me out when I have no wi-fi connection. The representative also told me to power down my phone and power it back up shortly before I leave so that my phone picks up the latest cell phone towers (or something like that). I am also planning on resetting my data usage on my phone so that I can see how much I have used.

I also started exploring wi-fi providers. I have used Boingo in the past in airports and I decided to look into them some more. I learned that for a fee of $7.95 a month I can get wi-fi coverage on up to two mobile devices. I think this is a pretty good deal. The Newark airport uses Boingo as a wireless provider. We will be there for three hours before our flight. I know I will want to go online there. There are some disadvantages though to Boingo. I know they have access points in Europe but I really need to be connected wirelessly to find an access point. Plus the access points might not be too convenient. Still, $7.95 a month for two devices is a price I am willing to pay. I was not willing to pay the $35 a month Europe price which covered computers as well. I think chances are I will use Boingo in Newark and maybe only once or twice in Europe.

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