The beach near Monastery of Saint Nahum, North Macedonia.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Pogradec, Albania .

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Gjyrokaster, Albania on October 6th.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Cell phones and communication

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.


  1. Thanks for the info, guys. Lots of good ideas. We think we will do something similar, by keeping a cell phone around in case of emergency, but have it turned off most of the time.

    It seems like a bunch of Canadians buy a Tracfone ? as soon as they get into the States from Walmart, for $20.00 bucks or less, than buy airtime cards for it.

    I would be content with just email, and perhaps blogging, so family would know of our whereabouts, but Teresa wants to be able to talk to the kids whenever she wants
    ....dang...that makes everything a lot more expensive !!

  2. We went fulltime 3 1/2 years ago and got a Bell North America business plan $75.00 a month, plus taxes etc... gives us 250 minutes with no long distance and no roaming Canada and USA,This is the only phone we have , one number. And when we entered Mexico we called Bell to let them know where we going and now we can use that plan in Mexico. We have been in Mazatlan since Dec. 17th and works quite well. We also use Skype for computer to computer and a Magic Jack, computer to landline when we have good internet.For $39.95 (then $19.95 a year after the first year) we can call unlimtied to Canada and USA from anywhere, even Mexico. Maybe another option to look into.

  3. Most people are just starting to learn that there are new roaming options for Canadians who travel not only to the USA but anywhere in the world. Roam Mobility which launched in December 2009 and is quickly becoming available across Canada provides free incoming calls in over 65 popular countries including the USA and calls back to Canada for about .50/minute plus its pre-paid so it comes with zero contracts or commitments. For $49.95 you get a SIM card which even includes $10 in airtime credit or for $50 more you get a brand new Motorola World Phone.

  4. George and Suzie.... Thanks for the comment. It is nice to know that there are other options. This is still too much for our budget, but it is always something to keep in mind in case things change down the road. We seem to be doing very well using email and Skype to keep in contact with everyone. We use Skype computer to computer, as well using it computer to landline.

    Hope you are enjoying your time in Mazatlan!


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