Marie Good

 Connect while Travelling 

What do want to achieve?  Do you want to

Disconnect from the world.
Available in emergencies.
Connect to family and Friends.
Keep up with day to day events. Limited use of phone.
Have Unlimited use of your phone.

1   Disconnect from the world.

Turn off your phone when you leave and turn it on when you get back

2    Available in emergencies.

Know you can turn on the phone and it will work – whatever the cost.

3 Connect to family and Friends.

Turn off Mobile Data during the day to be able to take calls and text messages and rely on free wifi for data.

4 Limited use.

Keep up with day to day events, social media, few phone calls and messages. Use small amount of data – mostly relying on free wifi. Buy small data allowance for phone.

5 Unlimited use of your phone.

Turn it on and use it as you would at home, making use of the the phone’s features – maps, weather, languages, transport, places of interest, shopping, as well as making phone calls and text messaging.

Australia or Overseas

Are you travelling in Australia or overseas? Do you want to rely on free wifi or your own device? Do you want to turn off Data Roaming or turn it on?

Travel in Australia

If travelling in cities your phone will work wherever you go. Outside metropolitan areas Telstra has the best coverage though there are still plenty of areas where you can get ‘no signal’. In an emergency, a signal could mean life or death.

What devices are you wanting to use – mobile phone, iPad, Laptop?

If you have a small amount of data allowance on your phone you can ask your Service Provider (SP) to add extra – e.g. if requested, Telstra will add 1GB to your account for $10 and will keep adding 1GB for $10 if the data is used in the month.

iPads and Laptops can connect by wifi to:-

* free wifi hotspots

* mobile wifi modem

* iPhone/smartphone – Personal hotspot (‘tethering’)


Are generally very slow, unless you are in The Dubai Mall where I recorded a download speed of 198Mbps, the fastest I’ve ever recorded. Usually, if you are the only person using the network, it would be fine, but, if you are sharing with dozens, you could be wasting your time. Public libraries  usually have free public wifi. Other public places, some cafes and restaurants e.g.MacDonalds around the world, camping grounds and hotels usually have free wifi. The more expensive the hotel the more likely they will charge. Don’t bother to use wifi on a Cruise Ship – it’s usually incredibly expensive, unless you’ve made dozens on trips with the cruise line.


A mobile wifi modem is a great way to connect your iPad or Laptop. It has it’s own SIM card and data allowance. It has a separate account but, if with the same SP, data can be shared with your mobile phone. (Addendum – this is no longer available with Telstra who have completely dropped data sharing from all their new contracts)


Your phone can be used like a Mobile Wifi Modem through Personal Hotspot in Settings but, be aware, that this method can use up to double and more of your phone’s data allowance. This sounds ridiculous but I was assured it was so – it appears that it is up to the  SP  to allow use of devices using the Personal Hotspot – check with your SP


Make sure you contact your SP to ensure your phone is unlocked and Global Roaming is activated, or turned off if you don’t want it to use any data.

How long will you be away?

Short or long will determine how to stay connected.

Where are you going?

Countries vary as regards buying local SIM cards and the cost Australian SPs charge for using an Australian SIM overseas.


There are many ‘Travel SIMs’ on the market but I don’t think they are much value – data is usually still expensive though I think Woolworths may have one that is reasonable. Check with your Australian SP to see what they offer for Global Roaming.

The best I know of, and I think the situation is improving all the time, is a Vodafone Red SIM which allows unlimited use of phone and data for $5 for each 24 hour period. If you don’t use it one day you don’t get charged $5.


Get a local SIM card and load it with the amount you think you will need for calls, messages and data. Make sure it can connect to the internet with the correct APN (Access Point Name) which is essential to be in your Settings.

To buy a local SIM card you will usually need to show your passport.

It can take up a lot of precious travel time to find a local SIM – Airports are often the best if you have time and are not completely drained from the trip. Language can be a problem trying to explain what you want.


Europe is a special case. Since September 2017 SIM cards in EU countries can be used throughout the EU as if in their country of origin. A wonderful breakthrough which makes it well worth buying a SIM for EU.

My Telstra contract allows me unlimited calls and messages when overseas as well as 2GB of data per contract month. If my trip starts one contract month and ends during the next, I have a data allowance of 4GB.


All Phone Apps such as FaceTime, Viber and Skype use data. A video call is going to use a lot more data than an audio call which is more than a text message. You can create a Skype account to make direct phone calls for a cost, otherwise you take pot luck that the person you want to talk to is there.

WhatsApp is a good App for connecting to a number of people, special group, at the same time, with text, photos and videos. You can create a group and add individuals to it. Works well and enables the group to join in a conversation.

Marie Good

7th September 2018