Warning: This post was started when I was under the influence of Long Island Ice Tea and finished after I completed 30 km cycle ride the morning after. Read at your own risk.
To get mobile SIM card with data plan or not to get during travels – that has been a constant debate that I have. After several trial and error, I have come to a conclusion.
My verdict: No. A basic SIM card would do. Having constant internet access during travel does more harm than good (except maybe when travelling solo).
With my stellar ability to get lost, you would think that having internet access on-the-go during travel is essential for my survival. Google Maps for one is like a heaven-sent tool for a direction idiot like me. It certainly makes travelling more convenient, but I would not call it a necessity.
Apart from the fact that I still do get lost with Google Maps anyway, there are still paper maps. I still remember the time, as recent as 2009, when 3G connectivity was not so rampant and most cell phones were not equipped with WiFi capability. I had to rely on paper maps to get around as there was no Google Maps to fall back to halfway through the journey. Granted, my maps would always be torn and tethered after about a day since I had to turn it around to get my bearings right and refer to it every 10 steps, but I made it, somewhat, and it did make the whole travelling experience a lot more interesting. It also gives the opportunity to experience how nice strangers can be – you’ll be surprised at how many good people there are in the world who will be willing to offer help when you ask for directions. You won’t know that until you get lost.
(Except for the time when a stranger in New York City Subway deliberately pointed us to take the opposite train direction on our way to the Statue of Liberty, but as in everything in life, there are exceptions).
Anyway, here are a 3 reasons why I don’t think 3G (or 4G) card is ever needed
- It depletes your phone battery really quickly. The powerful cameras that come with your smart phones these days actually make a good back-up camera just in case your battery runs out. The last thing you want is when your main camera’s power is flat, your phone is too, which is often the case when you have mobile data on.
- The silence it creates. Once there is internet, there seems to be an invisible force that absorbs people’s attention to their screens. Everyone would be focusing on their mobile phones to check for Whatsapp messages and Facebook notifications. I do agree there is sometimes a need to contact someone back home to just let them know you are okay. But seriously, you did not just take that flight to this foreign land with your friends to keep in touch with someone back home (or somewhere else) all the time?
- There is no need for it, really. Do you really need to share those photos now? Or check in to your current location? Most places now have WiFi hotspots in the hotel so your social media activities can always wait until before you sleep.
What do you think?