Best way to contact home when travelling in South America
Replies: 4 - Last Post: Jan 29, 2013 5:11 PM Last Post By: dvizard
Jan 28, 2013 10:27 AM
Best way to contact home when travelling in South AmericaHi
I'll be travelling to Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia on a four month trip starting at the beginning of March and wanted to get some advice from fellow travellers who have already visited these countries.
I'm trying to work out the best way to keep in touch with friends/relatives and what to do with my mobile phone. I would like to have a phone with me in case of emergency but I don't want to rack up massive bills on it, so I'm wondering what people think of the following options:
My first preference is to use skype and I was wondering how easy is it to use in these countries? I plan to take a tablet but only want to use it where there is free wifi or alternatively I can go to internet cafes.
Secondly, for my mobile, is it better to take my phone but buy pay as you go sim cards in the countries I am visiting or call my phone provider and see what packages they can offer me (I'm still under contract so either way I'll have to cover my regular fees while I am travelling.
Any thoughts/advice much appreciated!
Jan 28, 2013 11:06 AM
1I know almost nothing about mobile phones so won't comment on your second question!
For the first, Skype is widespread in most of South America. I had no trouble finding it on machines there, and when it wasn't there I could install it. You can put some credit on your account and make extremely cheap phone calls to land lines and mobiles that way. Sometimes the bandwidth is not quite enough for video but audio is more than acceptable in most places. Wi-Fi is almost ubiquitous in South American countries - hostels, cafes, restaurants. You'll be well covered.
Probably a good idea to have the emergency option with you too!
Jan 28, 2013 11:23 AM
2Agree with #1, Skype is the way to go. Wifi is everywhere if you bring your own tablet, but also loads of internetcafes have it installed.
For a sense of security, we brought a phone on our 10-month trip through South America (we put an international sim in it), and we didn't use it once.
Jan 28, 2013 2:53 PM
Jan 29, 2013 5:11 PM
4I will answer the part about mobile phones. In Ecuador, Argentina and Chile I got myself prepaid SIM cards, they are cheap (3-4$), and very useful if you want to call up a hostel or taxi (and for emergencies). You might get them with some cheapo 20$ phone so you can keep your original SIM running in your home phone (to be reachable for super-emergencies, but never use them if you don't have to, it's super-expensive with most companies.)
Actually, in Ecuador, I put the Ecuadorian SIM in my smartphone and my Swiss SIM in the cheapo phone, and I had a data plan on the Ecuadorian prepaid so I could use the smartphone "as usual". Argentina also has decent data options for prepaid (even though I had lost my smartphone by that time; in Chile I didn't even check.)
But yes, WiFi is in almost every hostel, and Skype-enabled internet cafés are everywhere too. Quality varies from "OMG can't get a page opened" to "lightning fast". So don't expect to be in permanent contact every day, but you'll usually be OK.
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