One of the biggest issues you may encounter while traveling abroad is figuring out how to stay online as well as in constant touch with the people you regularly communicate with. Fortunately, with today’s advancements in technology, there has been an increase in the number of available options you can choose from in order to stay connected.
But while this provides travelers with lots of convenient choices, it can still be confusing. The key is to determine which option is the most economical and reliable one.
Whether you are traveling for pleasure or business, here are the best ways you can stay connected while on the go.
1. Subscribe to an international plan
Days before your travel date, you must contact your phone plan provider. Ask if they have a low-cost yet reliable offer that you can use while you are overseas.
Zain Iraq customers, for instance, can get affordable international roaming services if they need to travel out of Iraq. These include air roaming, postpaid or prepaid roaming, roaming with internet access, and Zain maritime roaming service.
Make sure that before investing in any roaming services, you have been fully informed of what is included in the service. This way, you won’t be shocked by a hefty bill once you get home. Also, you must calculate how many minutes or data you will be using during your trip. This will help you choose the best roaming package.
2. Take advantage of free Wi-Fi hotspots
Wi-Fi allows you to have internet access even if your cellular plan has international restrictions. Thus, it is crucial for you to know the free Wi-Fi zones in your country of destination. These may include hotels, dining establishments and public hubs. Though some may require a password, there are establishments that will happily provide it if you ask.
Be aware, though, that some free Wi-Fi hotspots are not 100% safe. If you have any sensitive data in your device, it may be exposed unless you use the connection mindfully.
For further data security, consider installing an app that will help secure all the data on your device. The Kaspersky app is a good example; it offers reliable protection against smartphone hacking and viruses.
3. Buy local SIM cards
If your phone plan provider does not offer affordable international plans, using a local SIM card is a great option. But before buying a local SIM card, make sure that your phone is unlocked.
Take note that SIM cards are available in local cell phone retail stores or at the airport. Though prices vary, it is still one of the cheapest options to stay connected.
If you are visiting Iraq, for instance, Zain offers a visitor’s SIM card. It has local and international offers that will surely fit your needs and is valid for 30 days from the date of activation. If you have fully consumed the free credit, you can easily recharge it in any accredited recharging station.
4. Use a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot
Alternatively, renting or buying a portable Wi-Fi hotspot can be a cost-effective way to have internet access throughout your entire trip. The best thing about this option is that you can connect different users or devices at once.
There are 4G internet devices, which are palm-sized gadgets that can easily fit into your pocket. Depending on the plan you choose, it can offer unlimited Wi-Fi access to up to 17 users or devices that include tablets, smartphones and laptops.
The gadget’s battery life can last for 12- to 16 hours. In fact, this can act as your power bank as well, which stops the “battery empty” notification from becoming a problem.
This is a device you should have if you are traveling in groups. Instead of individually subscribing to international phone plans, you can just choose the best plan for your mobile Wi-Fi device. You will be surprised at how much you and your travel buddies can save!
Having internet access as you travel these days is more crucial than ever because it allows you to do practically everything while staying connected while on the go.
With the development of many video and messaging apps like WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook Messenger, subscribing to an international plan is no longer your only option. By connecting to a secure Wi-Fi hotspot, you can easily start face-to-face video chats with your loved one or send messages whenever you want to.
No matter what your reason may be for staying connected while traveling, make sure to do it cost-efficiently. If you do not have the luxury of obtaining international plans, consider buying a local SIM card, connecting to secure yet free Wi-Fi hotspots, or investing in a portable Wi-Fi device.
Al-moottil P Antony is a C-Suite Executive Support Professional for Zain, a leading mobile and data services operator with a commercial footprint in 8 Middle Eastern and African countries.