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    Archive for August, 2015
    How to Avoid a Dead Cell Phone When Travelling
    Thursday, August 13th, 2015

    ♫ Cell phone’s dead
    Lost in the desert
    One by one…♫

    Lyrics and music by Beck Hensen.

    tossing cell phone

    [Image courtesy of holohololand at]

    Having just returned from a long tenting camping vacation where my Blackberry was dead for most of the trip, I thought I would pass along some tips on how to avoid the kind of experience that I just went through.

    Notwithstanding that we were travelling with both an iPhone and a Blackberry and charging them equally in the vehicle when on the road (courtesy of having USB connectors that allowed us to use the 12 volt ports and plug in the phones to charge while the vehicle was running), the iPhone would have a charge of about 90-95% the next day and the Blackberry would be dead.

    Furthermore, the Blackberry kept on stating that it has exceeded its data limit plan (we were in the States for the most part and had data plans that had to be continually renewed) even when it was only ‘alive’ for 1 out of every 3 days (due to the fact that it would only be charged every 3 days due to our travel/camping schedule).

    What I found out on my return was that there was a big software update from Blackberry that it kept on trying to download when on the road.  If there was a notification of this, I have to say that I didn’t see it.  As a result the attempted download ate up the data limit on the plan and also ate up the battery life as well.

    So here is a collection of tips to hopefully avoid some of the problems encountered when travelling with a cell phone:

    • Get a data roving plan before you leave.  It is much better than getting hit with the pay-as-you-go rate in whatever jurisdiction you find yourself.
    • Use WIFI whenever possible and turn off the data on your phone.  Starbucks is my best friend on the road. For the price of a coffee you can connect to their Wifi network and check your email messages.  If you are lucky you can find a table with a power connection too and top up your battery charge.
    • If you can, use an unlocked phone or a small tablet that can accommodate a SIM card and purchase a SIM card in the jurisdiction of travel to cut down on your data costs.
    • Consider buying a disposable phone in the jurisdiction where you are going.  Often these are much cheaper than a roaming plan using a Canadian phone.  Furthermore, Canadian cell phones may not work in other jurisdictions.
    • Check to ensure that all software updates are installed BEFORE you leave.  Or if you find out there is one released while you are travelling, find a WIFI hotspot and do the update there, if possible.
    • Make sure you can charge your device wherever you may be. You may need extra plugs and adapters to accommodate the AC power in foreign jurisdictions.  See a travel store before you leave.
    • Get the apps, music and entertainment files you need before you leave.
    • Take photos of your passport, important documents, serial numbers etc and put them in the cloud where you can get at them in the event your device and such are stolen or lost.
    • Set up one HTML based email service with an easy to remember password that you can use in the event of an emergency, such as losing your device.
    • GPS applications are wonderful when travelling, but remember that they also eat up data at a horrendous rate (at least in my experience).

    I hope this helps ease some of the pain when travelling.  You don’t want to end up in the middle of the desert with your cell phone dead!

    (cross-posted to

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