Readers Trent and Teresa asked about what we do for cell phone when we're on the road. Well, there's a bit of a story to that...
When we originally hit the road in October 2007, I had a cell phone through Rogers here in Canada. I had used it for work, and it was on a 3 year plan which still had 7 or 8 months to go. I was self employed, so the contract was in my name. We figured we'd just continue to pay the $30 a month or whatever it was, until the contract was up.
So travelling across Canada was no problem...we just bought a long distance card and then used that through our cell phone. So long as we didn't go over the monthly limit of minutes, the cost wasn't much more than the $30 a month we were paying anyhow.
That first winter, we used it in the U.S., but in Mexico we bought long distance cards that are used in their pay phones there. And we didn't use them very often because long distance that way is very expensive...almost 50 cents a minute, if I remember correctly. Back in the U.S., in the spring of 2008, we used our cell phone a lot, but always with a store bought long distance card.
When we got back to Canada, I looked up our last two bills from Rogers. they were over $400 between the last 2 months! I just about had a heart attack. Turns out that we Canadians get screwed for "roaming charges" when using our phone outside Canada. Doesn't matter if you use a long distance card or not...if I hooked my phone into a GSM network outside of Canada, it was at a buck a minute! I phoned Rogers, and they were actually quite good about it. I had no idea about these roaming charges, and really it was my own fault. But who in their right mind would use their phone if they knew it was costing a buck a minute?? Anyhow, they reduced the bill to about $80 if I remember right. Never again.
So now, I have a cell phone, but it's on a $15 a month plan, with NO contract. I hardly ever turn it on, so really it's for emergency only. But, it is free to recieve text messages, and I think that's anywhere in North America, but you can bet I'll check the facts before I use it outside the country.
Otherwise, we use Skype whenever we get a decent internet connection. And even when we're on the road, I try and check emails 3 or 4 times a day, unless we're boondocking somewhere.
If someone needs to get hold of us, they simply have to wait until they can. Even in an emergency. Only way is to send an email, and wait. Sometimes we're out of communication for up to a week at a time, although that doesn't happen very often. Usually 2 or 3 days at the most.
Americans probably don't realize that Canadians pay among the highest cell phone rates in the world. Otherwise, I'd get myself one of those aircards for cellular internet access. But the data plans for Canada are just ridiculous.
So, because we are frugal RV'ers, we just do without. There are all kinds of free ways to communicate, so we'll just leave the cell phone for our own emergency use.