Saturday, June 1, 2013

@stonia - Staying Connected While Travelling

Estonia, the birthplace of Skype, may also be home to the largest number of free wi-fi access points.  Every hotel that I stayed at had free wi-fi.  That's not so unusual, but most cafes, restaurants, some stores, and even the long-distance buses have free wi-fi.

My US phone does not operate as a phone in Estonia.  However, since it's smart, I can use it to access my email and surf the internet when I have wi-fi access.  This turned out to be very easy in Estonia.

Just to be safe, I set my phone to Airplane Mode; I didn't want to find that I had actually connected to cellular service and racked up astronomical international cell phone charges.  I also wanted to save my phone's battery so I didn't want my phone to be constantly looking for a cellular signal.

I used Viber and Skype to text, voice call, or video call my husband and friends.  But then there was the matter of my 90-something mother who would like to hear from me occasionally.

Photo by Zef Hemel
Mom has no computer, no cell phone, no microwave, for that matter.  The last time I travelled overseas, I used a calling card to dial her from a phone booth.

However, there are no pay phones in Estonia anymore. I was told that they were removed a couple of years ago. Hmmmm. How do I reach mom?

Well, someone suggested I download Skype and use that. I already had the Skype app but I had always used Skype to call skype to skype. I hadn't thought of calling a landline with it. I loaded $4.99 worth of Skype Credit from iTunes and proceeded to call mom every few days from the comfort of my hotel room rather than a phone booth down the street. It was wonderful and inexpensive!

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