14 January 2015

Staying Connected When Overseas - The Curse of the Internet Addiction

In this age of social media and networked connectivity, it is really hard to go overseas and to not be connected. It's a cold turkey treatment and I cringe all day, itching for the opportunity to be back on The Net. It's such an addiction.

Eventually upon reaching the hotel, relief finally presents itself when I discover that the hotel provides Wifi coverage; even if it means sitting in the hotel lobby like a goon to do so. End of cold turkey.

But while there may be hope that Internet access is available at the hotel, one is still disconnected and unplugged for the rest of the day. In the past, I used to use the Singtel Data Roam Savers plan which charge $15-30 a day for unlimited data, for the days when I get really itchy and need a dose of The Net!

During one holiday while on board the Mariner of the Seas cruise ship anchored off Phuket, Thailand, I discovered with glee that I was getting a pretty good signal strength from the local telco even though the ship was anchored offshore. Thai Telco rocks! So that was it. S$15 for unlimited data. I became a Wifi node for my whole family lazying away on-board, lounging comfortably at the top deck of the ship! Hah.

For longer trips however, it is probably cheaper to buy a local prepaid SIM card with a data plan.

In a recent trip to New Zealand, that was precisely what I did. I bought a prepaid SIM card with a 10 GB data plan at NZ$100 to last my family for two weeks. In the end, I only used up 6 GB. Wasted the rest.

In a more recent trip to Tasmania, Australia, I did the same thing. Searching through Internet reviews, it seemed like Singtel's Optus subsidiary wasn't the best choice. They are apparently good only in the major cities and towns, and has limited coverage otherwise. Seems in Tasmania, the best coverage is provided by Telstra. An A$30 prepaid SIM card gave me 3 GB of data for up to 30 days. That worked pretty well for my two-week holiday, complemented by the free Wifi at most hotels.

There are different ways to stay on The Net. It's only a question of how much of a fix is needed for the addiction.

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