And since we did an Around the World Honeymoon, we had all these other newlywed responsibilities to take care of back home! Things like setting up our joint tax appointments, calling our insurance providers to combine our medical insurance, pay bills, closing out post-wedding things. We also wanted to call our family and friends to keep in touch since we were gone for so long. Gotta be responsible adults even when traveling!
Hotel phones are not useful either since they usually charge fees for local and international use. I've racked up a $75 charge before at the Sheraton Palo Alto hotel (in Northern California), by calling a local business and mobile number that unfortunately had a different area code. SAME COUNTY! I forgot that landlines still charge long distance for different area codes. Yay for unlimited nationwide calling on cell phones.
Facetime, Skype Video, and WhatsApp phone is useful for friends and family, but isn't useful for calling local businesses and landlines.
I researched high and low to find a solution that wouldn't break the bank. Initially, we were going to completely disconnect and forgo a phone in general. It seemed like a blissful hippie dream: live like it was 1990 and survive without technology! Yes! I wasn't even going to bring my iPhone (in fear of it getting stolen), and live off of Jay's phone. But who was I kidding, 2 months with no phone? HAH. I love technology and Google too much.
So: Should I bring a smart phone? Absolutely. It became one of our greatest resources for traveling information. Just safe guard it when walking around and don't leave it on the table when you're dining somewhere. Since we didn't make TOO many reservations ahead of time for the trip, we made a lot of last-minute reservations via phone.
We used the phone for local (international) calls for things like:
- Reservations for cooking classes in Athens, Greece and Inle Lake, Myanmar
- Confirming reservations to hotels or scheduling the free airport/hotel pickups in another country
- Booking a last minute flight via American Express Concierge from Santorini to Athens because we didn't feel like taking another 8-hour ferry ride back
- Calling the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo, Japan 2 hours before the show, hoping to get seats
- Confirming free tour reservations in Italy
The best solution we found: Skype Unlimited World. It's free for the first month (score!) and then $13.99/month for unlimited calls to landlines in 63 countries AND mobile phones in 8 countries. That means you can call mobile phone numbers in the U.S. It's so simple and no gimmicks. And cheap. You can use your phone, tablet or laptop if you're carrying all those things. Most hotels have free wi-fi included in your hotel room and in the lobby. We only had 1 hotel out of all the hotels we stayed at around the world NOT offer free room wi-fi, but we still survived off the free lobby internet.
Happy calling and piece of mind. :)