Lonely Planet Writer

Stay connected with your travel buddy with this device (without the roaming fees)

If safety or connection worries are preventing you from going travelling off the beaten track – or if you just want to avoid a high cellphone bill – this handy little device could be the answer to all your concerns.

You can use the devices in a group as well as one-to-one. Photo by goTenna

The goTenna Mesh enables you to use your cell phone over a long range anywhere in the world, even when there’s no cell, internet or satellite service. The devices work in pairs through Bluetooth, allowing you to use texts or share your GPS location to another device within range.

You can text your buddy or set up a group of up to ten people. Your messages will have confirmation of delivery and even have end-to-end encryption for added privacy. While the advantages for off-the-grid adventurers are clear, it could also save you expensive roaming fees on your cellphone service.

Find your travel buddies even in remote areas with this little device. Photo by Westend61

The comparisons to the traditional walkie-talkie are obvious, but the company promises superior performance in range and battery life, plus reduced weight and the addition of features such as maps, GPS and access to an adaptable network.

The origin of the goTenna Mesh is one of necessity; Brooklyn-based siblings Daniela and Jorge Perdomo saw the damage to communications that Hurricane Sandy wreaked on the East Coast of the USA. They were inspired to build a more resilient form of communication that would be affordable and secure.

The devices are sold in pairs. Photo by goTenna

As well as being available for emergency situations, goTenna say they have had great reviews from customers who’ve used them on their travels, like finding their family members on a vast cruise ship and at a crowded Disneyland. They even had a person communicate while skydiving 26 miles above the ground.

The devices work in pairs, although it’s possible to connect with anyone in the area with a goTenna Mesh device. Pairs start at US$179/€199 and are available online.