Sometimes going away for a weekend (or longer!) means that you will fall behind on news and entertainment. If you like to stay in-the-know while on-the-go, I present to you: How to Stay Connected While Traveling.
How to Keep up With the News
This one is actually great for both being at home and traveling. These days, we are bombarded by news shared on social media. The sheer number of news outlets alone is daunting, let-alone trying to navigate what is actually true and what is just opinions.
There are a few podcasts I listen to for the goings-on in US politics, but for a great unbiased catch-all news source, check out the Skimm. It’s a daily email that takes less than ten minutes to read every morning; it’s well-written and humorous, and it makes keeping up with current events easy and fun. Oh, and if you unsubscribe, you actually stop getting the emails. Easy and commitment free!
How to Enjoy Your Favorite Magazines
Also great for while you’re at home, Texture is the best for reading any magazine you want, all for $10 a month. It’s basically less money than if you actually had two magazine subscriptions coming to your door, AND you can take it everywhere you go (you can use the app under three devices simultaneously, so my boyfriend and I actually share a subscription! Shhhhhhh…. don’t tell anyone!) If you sign up using this link you get a 14-day free trial, no questions asked.
How to Watch Your Favorite Shows on-the-go
Whenever we travel, we take an Amazon Fire Stick that has the program “Kodi” installed on it with us. The Fire Stick has lots of entertainment options (which are great by themselves), or you can download programs like Netflix or Kodi to watch on any TV with a USB port. It makes going to sleep at night easier when “Friends” is on in the background!
How to Have Good (-ish) Internet
You need Internet not just for making your social media friends jealous of your adventures, but also to use the maps and search for the best restaurants. I’m gonna be real with you here, sometimes you’re just not going to have good Internet, if you can get any at all. And sometimes you are surprised with crazy good Internet. It just depends on the country where you are.
For example, Germany’s Internet is controlled by a monopoly, so, unless you’re on wifi [and sometimes even when you are], don’t expect service. You basically can’t use your phone most places on the autobahn (Germany’s highway system), or just generally not in cities. Conversely, Romania has phenomenal coverage. It has tacky phone lines everywhere, but the Internet is the bomb.
Stay Somewhere with Wifi
There are a few ways that you can stay at least a little connected while you travel. The first, and most obvious, is to book a hotel or AirBnb (use this link to get around $40 off your first stay!) with free wi-fi. Then you can at least have Internet sometimes. Sometimes AirBnbs include mo-fis, or mobile wifi, with your stay. These are just little devices that give you the gift of the Internet everywhere you go. If yours has this, then you are set! If it does not, read on.
Get a New SIM Card
Whenever I travel to a new country, I purchase a new SIM card for my phone. This gives me access to that country’s cellular system. I always get one with at least a gig or two of data, but most include much more than that. You can switch out your phone’s SIM card as long as your phone is unlocked. US phones used to all be locked to a specific carrier, making this impossible, but now it is illegal for a company to exclusively be able to operate your phone. (Think, circa 2010 Verizon-specific cell phones. If you left Verizon, you returned your phone. That is a thing of the past.) Make sure you keep up with your old SIM card so you can switch them back out when your trip is over. I just keep mine in my phone case the whole time so I can’t lose it!
If switching your phone’s SIM card is impossible or too much work, you can always purchase a mobile wifi device (around $150) and just buy a new SIM card in each country. Same SIM, different device. This is also a good option for families or people who need access on more than one device.