Have you ever had a £2000 phone bill? That was a message we saw on facebook from a fellow Mongol Rallier after returning to England from Mongolia.
Cell phone companies are evil. They overcharge for roaming fees, make it impossible for your to keep in touch with your loved ones and watch their stocks grow as you see your wallets dwindle.
One of the most bothersome things for us while traveling (and even while at home) is not having a phone to be able to call friends and family. We haven't had a regular number for two years. We pick up local SIM cards wherever we go and have a giant collection of the little suckers from all over the world. The first thing we do when we arrive in a country is b-line it to a Vodaphone Store or hey, did you know there's a cell phone outlet in Kazakhstan and Russia called BeeLine? How appropriate. Anyway, it can be very annoying. It wastes time and it causes added stress when first entering a new country. It's not like it's huge stress or anything, just a little irritating tingle having to go to a store and figure out a new network each time that we land in a new place.
It would be so much easier to have a day or two to relax.
Now that we have a OneSimCard, we don't have to worry abut that so much anymore. It doesn't replace a local SIM Card, but it does give a travel professional a little more freedom before having to seek out a cell phone provider.
We originally wanted to find a satellite phone sponsor for the Mongol Rally to be able to keep on top of our posts and social media with our readers. But after being shut down at every door, we searched out new ways to stay connected. I am so glad that we found OneSimCard.
We didn't expect it to be so good. We thought that we'd carry it around and maybe make a local call with it here and there. But as it turned out, it was a great tool to have on the road and now it is going to stay in our travel repertoire for future trips.
Why Do We Love This New Piece of Travel Gear?
We have a phone anywhere in the world. When we land at an airport, we can call our hotel to arrange pick up or call a local guest house listed in our Lonely Planet to see if they have any space available. We only end up paying local charges and we never have to worry about roaming fees.
Just to give you an idea of the savings.
A OneSimCard costs about $30 to buy. That is comparable to any SimCard here in Canada. But unlike the monopoly of Bell or Rogers, we can use our OneSim anywhere. The people of OneSim were kind enough to put $250 of airtime on each of our cards and we were worried that they wouldn't last us outside of England. (the country where the Mongol Rally started)
Well, let me tell you the ways we used it.
- We called roomorama in Singapore at least half a dozen times for 5 different countries.
- We had a half hour phone interview from Russia with Men's Health Magazine in New York.
- We called a production company in Toronto and spoke for about 30 minutes
- We called several of our fellow Mongol Ralliers UK phone numbers whom we caravanned with every so often (yes, I'm afraid I contributed to the poor guy that had a £2000 phone bill upon his return to England)
- We called my parents from Mongolia and spoke for a good 20 minutes when I asked my dad if we were ok to drive on a broken shock for the final 600 km
- And finally we called ahead to nearly every apartment that we stayed in during the course of our 9,000 mile trip.
That's not all Ladies and Gentlemen!
- 7. For the travel blogger who is traveling through a remote destination, the onesimcard can be a saviour for keeping your social media alive. We could send out tweets via sms to keep our followers on Twitter informed. You can set up facebook updates as well, but we never figured that out in time.
Oh, I forgot one more call that made me fume. I called TepWireless' customer service while in England and must have been transfered to India because when I checked my balance after my call, I was charged 5 Pounds! That used up a good chunk of my airtime before even starting the rally. Tep, if you have customer service, you should have a toll free number. I never got my issue resolved either.
What did all this cost us you ask?
Well upon returning home to Canada, we still have $150 left on our OneSimCard. That includes that nearly $10 TepWireless call in London. Not bad eh!
We now have money left on our card and can call friends and family in Toronto. Sure, they're a little confused when they see an Estonian number pop up on their call display, but at least we can set up appointments and let people know that we'll call them once we reach town. It's awesome!
We will still get ourselves a Canadian Sim card while we're here, but at least we haven't felt pressured to get ourselves to the mall to pick out a new pay as you go plan. We've actually been procrastinating and loving it!
So, what are the downsides?
Checking email is expensive. We checked our gmail before leaving Canada and it cost about $3 to take a look. We would never make a habit out of using data, but it is great for an emergency.
Twitter – Even though we can send tweets via SMS, we can't access twitter. We send out a tweet and can't reply to anyone. So while it is great for feeding information, it isn't good for contributing. Twitter is all about sharing so you can't use the OneSim for an extended period of time.
It is a bit of a pain making calls. You have to call the number in question, and then wait for your phone to call you back as it connects your international number to a local provider. Many times your phone won't connect so you have to keep hitting redial until it connects, but it's a small price to pay for the savings and convenience.
We never would have thought to use the OneSimCard before the Mongol Rally, but now that we have it, we're keeping it baby!
To find out more about the OneSimCard you can visit their website for details.