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Let’s be honest. When it comes to holiday essentials, a priority for most travellers is data on their mobile phones. Yeah, talk about #firstworldproblems. Unless you are intentionally travelling to a place to escape from the world, staying connected so that your entire social network can live vicariously through your holiday via Instagram or Whatsapp is usually priority number 1.
Ok maybe that’s a little too much brutal honesty, but we all know it’s true. There are definitely many different ways you can get data on your phone, such as, buying a local SIM card, using a portable Wi-Fi device, or subscribing to a roaming plan.
You might think that foregoing data and using whatever free WiFi networks available is a good idea, however, I would strongly advise you to read this article on Harvard Business Review about using free WiFi networks in places like cafes and such first. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use any WiFi networks at all, but making sure there is some layer of security or network reach limitation, like what some hotels do will help to mitigate the risks.
We take a look at those some options here and explore why getting a roaming plan like Singtel’s ReadyRoam might make a lot more sense.
1. Freedom and flexibility
Singaporeans are certainly avid travellers, and moving around the region is relatively easy and affordable. One of the best things about Readyroam is the freedom to travel spontaneously across multiple destinations, while staying connected like you would be if you were in Singapore.
Singtel’s ReadyRoam allows you access to data on preferred networks in multiple countries, and this was something I personally find extremely useful. I recently travelled to Bangkok for a music festival, and a week later had to make a trip up to Malaysia to visit a friend. Having a 30-day plan with 1GB allowance that gave me data in these two countries (the base package covers 9 countries!) made things extremely fuss-free.
This is where local SIM cards and WiFi dongles lose out greatly. Local SIM cards don’t offer the flexibility for travel, meaning you have to buy multiple SIM cards and worry about managing different data plans. But more importantly, you have no idea how many times I’ve had to fret about losing my own SIM card every time I buy a local SIM card. Sure, you could say “Yeah just be more careful” but accidents do happen and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one like this.
WiFi dongles might seem like a good idea for a group of people, but consider that you’re going to need to lug that thing all over the place, and the fact that the moment the group splits up, some poor soul would be left high and dry with no data. Which means no Instagram. Which means it’s the end of the world. Ok I’m kidding, but the inconvenience is real, and I experienced this first hand in Japan when I was there with a big group in 2016. That aside, the battery life on the device is rather disappointing, to put it politely. And if you lose it, you’re going to have to replace the entire device.
2. Excellent Value
There is definitely a very strong economic case for using ReadyRoam in many countries. Popular holiday destinations such as Japan and Korea aren’t exactly cheap on the mobile data front. For example, for Japan local SIM cards, an 8 day plan with JTB costs $38, and a 5 day plan on Trazy is $33.10. Portable Wi-Fi devices cost $5 and more a day, and not only are you required to put down a deposit, there are also minimal rental durations, which doesn’t really make sense for short term travel. Which isn’t that big a deal, until you misplace it in midst of some crazy shopping, and have to pay hefty replacement fines.
And this doesn’t even address multi destination travels yet. For that, you will have to either buy individual country’s SIM cards (which adds up), or pay for a multi-destination portable Wi-Fi package, which can cost up to $17 a day.
Readyroam, on the other hand, is the widest multi-destination plan available in the market now. There are three different plans to choose from: 9 Destinations (30 days, $12/GB, U.P. $15/GB), 18 Destinations (30 days, $20/GB), and 56 Destinations (30 days $35/GB).
Their ReadyRoam Network Lock ensures that your phone cannot switch to a non-partner network, which protects you from incurring exorbitant pay-per-use data charges on your next bill.
ReadyRoam is stackable, so If you do exceed your 1GB of data, you will be automatically provided with another 1GB of data at the same price of your subscribed plan.
On a side note, another plus side of using ReadyRoam, which many might not be aware of (myself included) is that in China, you don’t have to suffer being stuck behind a firewall. Yes, The Great Firewall. Just let that sink in for a moment as your friends tell you they are not able to upload their stories on their Instagram feed because, well… firewall.
This is something that many people can relate to. Taking a flight that lands late at night or early morning in a foreign country? Good luck if you’re looking for a local SIM card and the one lone mobile phone shop in the airport (if there is even one) is closed. Or landed with a full flight? Good luck hustling with the hoard of tourists crowding around that one small shop which may be understaffed.
There is still the setting your phone up after, which isn’t a breeze either. There are APN settings that needs to be changed, and even manual settings to change to LTE mode. Not to mention in certain places, the size of the SIM cards may not even be compatible with your phone. And if you happen to be in a country where they do not converse in English, this entire process can be rather painful.
This isn’t exactly my idea of how to start a holiday. What I want, is to stay connected the moment I step off the plane, as if I were in Singapore, and be on my way to my hotel.
Signing up for a ReadyRoam plan is extremely simple, and you can do it at the last minute, or even when you are overseas, via any of the following channels:
- My Singtel app > Roaming
- Dial *100# while overseas
- Dial *7626 in Singapore or SMS *7626 to 3333 while overseas (Roaming SMS charges apply)
One other huge consideration when it comes to travelling is, of course, staying contactable on my Singapore number. Now, I know a few people are already rolling at the eyes at the thought of getting a work call when on holiday but look, it happens. And sometimes you just need to stay contactable in case of a work or personal emergency, or you may be expecting an important alert from the government or banks, who only keeps your Singaporean number as official records.
4. Reliable Network Coverage
Singtel’s roaming packages partner with the Tier 1 telcos in each country, which means you don’t have to worry about spotty coverage.
Network coverage was an area that I found to be a significant pain point on my travels in Japan. The internet connection on portable Wi-Fi devices can be somewhat unstable, slow and unreliable. So, getting a consistent connection was challenging at times, which is not particularly ideal if you are in a non-English speaking country using an app like Google Maps to find your way around.
Holidays are meant to be relaxation time!
At the end of the day, data and connectivity isn’t something you want to worry about on your holiday. In fact, it’s meant to enable you to enjoy your holiday more, and to be able to seamlessly share your experiences as you wish. If I travel back to Japan one day, you’ll be sure I’ll be on Singtel’s Readyroam. You can find out more about the plans available and the country coverage on Singtel’s ReadyRoam page.
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