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International travel is awesome. It's exciting, exhilarating, and it's awesome to do in your 20s.
International travel is also expensive. There are flights, hotels, and agonizing daily data costs.
I have Verizon's cheapest plan and drag my bill down with every discount I can possibly get. While I'd love to go with a cheaper company, Verizon's pricey and consistent coverage is a must for me. I live in New Jersey—specifically, southwestern New Jersey. You might think that such a small state shouldn't be split up into geographic areas like that, but the point I'm making is that I am constantly driving through remote areas of Jersey's infamous Pine Barrens.
My sense of direction is so entirely lacking that without Google Maps, I can barely find my way out of my apartment complex. Subsequently, if my cell service cuts out when I'm driving around in the middle of the woods, I'm doomed, and I'll have no idea where to turn. Then all I'll be is stuck, and with a pricey Verizon plan to boot. I don't believe in the Jersey Devil, but I also don't want to end up lost in that neck of the woods and be proven wrong.
The moral of this convoluted story of woe about navigation is that I can never get myself from point A to B without help, but I still like to explore new places. The traveling part is a drag, but reaching the destination is really exciting for me. The same feeling applies to when I leave my home state and travel.
Then we face the time to purchase the dreaded international data plans.
I've been to Canada a few times with my friends and we always face the same dilemma; we're all stuck paying extra for international data on our respective phones and data plans. It makes a vacation cost a lot more when the simple use of your cell phone ends up being $5-$10 per day, or more, depending on your data usage.
I mentioned that I have Verizon for one particular reason—I left the country for the first time last year and visited Europe for 14 days. Verizon charges $10 per day in European nations, which means I was looking at a $140 cell phone bill. I'm a frugal traveler, so that's several days of food for me when on vacation.
My partner came with me and faced the same dilemma. We were looking at, together, $280 just for our cell phones. Considering we got our flights for free with credit card points and found very cheap lodging, spending nearly $300 just on our phones was absurd. We also wanted to buy a strong battery pack for our phones, which was going to be another added cost.
I started researching better ways to save money on data while traveling and decided that a hotspot would be the best solution. If one of us created a hotspot and activated data on one phone and then had the other phone connect to it, that'd at least take us down to $140 for the trip. While that was an option, I kept researching and found a better choice.
I was determined to find an alternative, and I found GlocalMe.
GlocalMe is a pretty cool solution to both problems. It has connectivity all over the world and offers data, either as a package or based on usage. It's great for traveling with a partner or with friends because everyone can connect to the same device.
Even using Google Maps almost non-stop, I still don't actually burn that much data while abroad. It's really the heavy tasks like watching videos and whatnot that make the gigs skyrocket. With my cell provider, I would have spent $10 a day; but with GlocalMe's hotspot, each GB of data my partner and I used went a long way, and would usually last several days.
Now, the GlocalMe does have the initial cost of the device to factor in. However, if you travel frequently or for long durations of time, it's more than worth it. Even though I typically only take one vacation per year if I'm lucky, it's come in handy when my friends and I have made those crazy road trips to Canada. Yet even with a once a year vacation, the GlocalMe still pays for itself pretty quickly. It feels nice and durable despite its compact size, so I feel very comfortable that this little guy is going to last through my next many, many trips.
Any drawbacks? Not really!
One limitation if you keep your data off and never activate international service with your phone plan is that you will not receive calls. However, you can work around this by setting up Wi-Fi calling, or just giving your friends and relatives the heads up that you're going to be traveling and they ought to use WhatsApp or another service like that to contact you.
We live in a time where even our grannies have smartphones. Even if you can't make or receive calls the regular way, texting can take you pretty far, calling apps can fill other holes, and that's not even touching social media. After all, if you just uploaded a photo of the amazing Parisian cafe you just had lunch at, grandma and grandpa can look at Facebook and see that you're doing just fine.
Let's end on a tip for playing it safe.
The two in one functionality of the GlocalMe was nice as well—it's a mobile charger and a hotspot. Whenever possible, I try not to carry a purse when traveling. My cell phone has a wallet case, so I've always got identification and two credit cards with no international fees on my person.
When you're in unfamiliar foreign cities, it's just a lot easier to keep everything in your pockets. Carrying a purse makes you a more likely target for pickpockets. Granted, my friends who have carried purses have been fine in London and Paris, but may as well play it safe, right?
Subsequently, carrying a cell phone, a hotspot, and a phone charger is asking for space within a lot of the pockets on a regular pair of pants or shorts. Keeping it down to just two devices is great for safety and for convenience.
In the end, every little tool to make international travel cheaper is a feather in your cap. GlocalMe understands this, and that's why I'm never getting onboard without one again.