Staying Connected - Or Not: Pre-Paid Global Travel Phones


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Being out of touch and unobtainable has always been, for me, one of the greatest perks of travel: no phones, no faxes, no e-mail, no voice mail, and no mail at all. The whole point of leaving was to escape that stuff, to be out of touch for a while.

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But, as a self-confessed gadget-girl, when I am on the road, there is another part of me that misses my electronic toys.

So, I've managed to balance these two sides of myself - the self that treasures inaccessibility in a totally too accessible world, and the self who loves her ipod, mobile phone, digital camera, etc. - in a way that still manages to feel fun and free.

As a professional wanderer, I love to travel. My husband Hank, not as much. Traveling alone is great. Making connections with local people and other travelers seems to happen much easier as a woman alone, than it does when I am half of a couple.

That said, I love sharing my experiences and impressions with Hank as they happen, when they're fresh, rather than waiting until I get home. Which is where having a global mobile phone comes in handy. With low outgoing rates and no expensive roaming fees, calling home has become an inexpensive indulgence, wherever I am. Better yet, unlike my mobile phone at home, I keep my global phone number private, thus preventing unwanted intrusions from interrupting my escape.

I use the phone to call home and to make and confirm reservations. I leave the number with my travel agent or airline to avoid the type of nasty last minute surprises that unknown flight or itinerary changes can cause. The only thing I pay for is the phone itself, delivery and the calls I make: no restrictive contracts, no hefty service fees.

Traveling with a global mobile phone keeps me as connected, or disconnected, as I want to be.

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Mobal World Phones was founded in the UK during the mid-1980s, today, Mobal is a world leader in telecommunications with operations in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific offering travelers a convenient way of making and receiving calls in over 140 countries. There are no monthly access charges, so if you never use the phone there is never a charge. $49.00 (140 countries, but not the US) or $99.00 (160 countries, including the US). 60-day money back guarantee.

Now, National Geographic has entered the communications game with their new Talk Abroad™ Travel Phone, offering coverage in more than 100 countries, low outgoing rates and unlimited free incoming calls in 65 of the world's most frequently traveled countries. $199.00.

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".