International Travel with the iPhone
I recently had the opportunity to travel internationally with my iPhone. Since I was going to be visiting family in Australia for over two weeks, I thought it would be a good idea to buy a data plan in order to use the iPhone’s GPS for way-finding and to keep a pulse on my emails.
Getting the data plan set up with AT&T was almost painful. It took about 20 minutes to get through the red tape of what they offered. It was certainly not straightforward, as they offered different plans depending on what date your billing cycle occurred with the plans being pro-rated. I’m still not sure that I bought the right plan and have yet to see the final, scary bill that I”m afraid is going to come in the mail next week. I am fairly positive that I went over the megabytes offered in the plan that I purchased.
The good news is the phone worked great, I also used it to keep tabs on the local weather in Australia and U.S. sports scores back home. I used the phone much more than I anticipated. The GPS feature was especially useful in both Melbourne and Sydney which can be initially difficult to get around to the unfamiliar traveler. Both have fantastic harbors that break up a normal street grid system that you would find in most modern cities.
The network signal was very good all around both cities, even when we traveled some 70 miles outside of the metro area. I was rarely out of 3G range and even when I was the signal strength was better than what I usually see here in the States. Which is probably why I used the iPhone more than I anticipated.
The apps offered in Australia were excellent. I purchased a weather app there called Oz Weather which had an excellent weather radar feature and accurate forecasts for temperature and general conditions. I also downloaded a free app for riding the Melbourne subway called tramTracker which was excellent for obtaining reliable train schedules and getting around the metro system.
And the iPhone was of course very helpful when we ran into travel snags and had to text family members. The texting feature cannot be underplayed while traveling overseas. It is so much more cost effective than calling and just as easy. All in all, it was a positive experience. I’ll add more to this blog once I receive my final bill, which of course could make me think twice!