How to find places to stay & how to handle your cell phone while traveling internationally.
Gone are the days when you had to hunt down & stay in a small selection of hotels, motels & bunkhouses.
These ^ are my go-tos when I'm trying to find a place to stay. I tend to avoid the "big guys" like Priceline and TripAdvisor because I've been burned in the past with fake positive reviews - only to arrive at a seriously sketchy establishment & then having to make up some excuse to bail out of my booking.
That being said, you can end up with a sub-par rental with AirBnB or VRBO too (long story, but it involved too many bus rides in freezing weather & a weird bedroom setup).
So: DO. YOUR. RESEARCH.
Handy tip: If you check out my Part 1 of this series - you'll see how to search for flights, if you look to the left toolbar on the flights.google.com page - you'll see this:
Which I also like to include a Google Maps search of the place to see what it REALLY looks like & what it's actually close to. "Minutes from the beach" can mean 40, if you catch my drift.
Don't forget to incorporate your ground transport ideas when planning where to stay - are you going to walk everywhere? Drive? Take the bus? Take the train? #Research people.
Another important aspect of traveling, is being able to stay in touch with people - both for safety & for enjoyment.
Before you head off on your adventure: CHECK WITH YOU MOBILE CARRIER IF THEY HAVE INTERNATIONAL OPTIONS. It is a big deal because it will rack up a SHITLOAD of roaming charges if you don't plan for this.
Ask about minutes, data, if certain countries are included and if there are daily/weekly/monthly passes you can buy.
I have T-Mobile and they have a widespread international 2G-3G data coverage so when I'm in another country, I can still text & use my apps (but calls are NOT covered with the regular plan).
Also, I purposely bought an iPhone 13 mini because it allows for dual-SIM functionality. That means in 1 phone I have a US plan & a UK plan - each with their own phone # and data plan.
When I'm in the US > I make sure ONLY my US data plan is switched on. When I'm home in the UK I make sure ONLY my UK data is turned on. For calls, I encourage my US family & friends to use alternative apps like WhatsApp (calls, video calls, messages) or even Facebook Messenger just so I don't get whacked with any accidental charges.
The good thing is, when my phone is connected to WiFi, I have "WiFi Calling" enabled so that it doesn't use my minutes - so I try to hop on WiFi as often as I can whilst traveling - because it makes like easier. I also use Google Voice for this on my laptop & my phone. So evening when I'm sitting in the Scottish highlands, I can make calls to US numbers using Google Voice for FREE.
Now that you're equipped with tons of handy info: GO FORTH & ADVENTURE!!