Phoning Home – 2017 Version

Side note: I’ve owned a few Jamaican cell phones over the years.  I own one now – I bought it just a couple of years ago.

But this year I didn’t use it. At home I’d switched my cell service to Google Fi. It hitches a ride on various cell providers in the US and also abroad – for the same price. Data is $10/gig at home or away, no difference.  Texts are free. Phone calls were a very reasonable 20 cents a minute there.  My phone can also be a hot spot for my kid’s phones if there wasn’t wifi (and I used that).

Also, this is key – if there is an open wifi connection it will connect to it, secure it with its own VPN and use it for calls and data.

All told it was like $17 for my Jamaica calls, plus about $5 in extra data.  So keeping in touch with Chicken, the Airbnb host, everyone – was easy and cheap.  I was also able to be in touch with anyone at home that I wanted to be in touch with (which was no one, actually, but the option was there).

A nice thing about having my own phone is that my phone is my camera – the phone is new, so it’s actually nicer than my digital camera (it’s a Nexus 5x). All the photos for this trip were taken with it (or my daughter’s waterproof).  So I had my camera with me at all times. It’s also my wallet, so I had that too. I prune what I carry around to the minimum needed in terms of cash, cards, ID. But still I had a Thing to keep close track of.

For various reasons I posted very few photos online while I was actually in Jamaica, so my nose wasn’t in facebook while we were out or anything – I try to be present when I am traveling so other than taking a photo (which I sometimes choose not to do if I am *in the moment*), I don’t play with it when out and about.

One funny thing is that when I bought this phone and plan, I knew international data was free. So I envisioned myself renting a car in Jamaica, as I’ve done before, but with my trusty navigation!  Well, I was ambivalent about driving my own kids around and then, as it turned out, Island sold out for our trip dates. SO that was that, we hired Chicken and he doesn’t need a nav, ever 😀

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3 Replies to “Phoning Home – 2017 Version”

  1. good read but using a Jamaican phone is still much cheaper five bucks a sim card which I bought a few years ago and 20.00 data and calls way cheaper and lasts a long time. you can get good phones cheap at best buy that are unlocked. so I upgraded to one of them so I can use for pictures too. but I always just use a separate phone just my preference and I think cheaper.

    1. Hey Karen thanks so much for reading and commenting. I agree with you that it’s usually the best way.

      This time it was $22US total for my calls and data and texts. My Jamaican cell phone is a 3 year old LIME phone that I have to text by using the number pad!

      But buying an unlocked phone that can text for real and take photos is an intriguing idea, because then I wouldn’t have to worry about losing my primary phone. Hmm. And then I don’t need to make my J’can friends call a US # either. I might try it next trip!

Thoughts? Questions? I'd love to hear them!