[For US, Verizon users only]
Let me say, first off, this is not a sponsored post.
While not cheap, Verizon's travel pass can be a very handy thing. Thus far, I have used it on a couple occasions in Canada, England (UK), and France. Normally, I will either just deal with having to bounce around, searching for free Wifi, or I will buy a 1gb SIM card. However, when I was younger, I was a pro at the whole depending only on Wifi thing, especially as a person that didn't get their first smart phone until almost their mid-twenties, but now that I'm connected to data, it's a hard connection to sever. I'm now fully dependent, and going back to the days of saving images of Google maps and finding non-internet ways of occupying myself feel the same as that moment of helplessness when there's a power outage during a thunderstorm but you still can't help but flick the light switch of every room you enter. So for anyone that doesn't want to go the route of a Sim card, if you're spending only a couple days in one country, the travel pass might be the way to go.
As a frequent solo traveler, being constantly connected to the internet may be more of a priority for me than others, but I think that anyone who travels must admit that having access to maps, being able to look up any question immediately (like the exchange rate, tipping customs, how to use a fish knife*, etc.), and staving off boredom by reading the entire internet or having digital conversations with family and friends can all be more than just a convenience.
So the way that the pass works is: Once you get to your destination, the pass will activate starting from the moment you send a text, make a phone call, or connect to data. First, before leaving, you have to call Verizon customer support and make sure that your phone is unlocked and enabled to use this feature. You pay a daily rate that begins from the moment that you first use it, which will stop when you disconnect from the foreign network, thereby failing to renew another 24-hr cycle.
Here is a summary of my experiences:
- Canada (2$/day) - Great. Connects right away. Multiple, high-quality networks available. High-speed data.
- England (10$/day) - Also great. the O2 network is comparable to 4G LTE. Also connected right away.
- France (10$/day) - GARBAGE. DO NOT RECOMMEND. Save your money and don't even bother. From the moment that I arrived, my phone would indicate that I was connected to data with 3-5 bars, but when I would try to access the internet, I would be told that I had no data connection. During the few instances where it was working, it would disappear at any moment, leaving me unexpectedly stranded and unable to even access my saved offline maps (How it fk-ed up these maps, I do not know.) When I had dinner with two friends, they told me that their Airbnb guests had the exact same problem, so I was not the only one.
*When I was a student and spent about 3 months in France, I went to Vannes one Saturday, which is a small city along the southern coast of Brittany. That day, I ate a fancy pants lunch at a 1* restaurant, Le Roscanvec, which was possibly one of my first starred meals. The first floor dining room was pretty small, with only a handful of tables and a small window at the kitchen for the chef to watch peoples' reactions. I had bought my first smart phone because the contract-less mobile carrier I was using included unlimited data in my monthly fee, so why not? I should mention that I was by myself this day. And as I'm sitting there, browsing Facebook or whatnot, they bring out the silverware for the entrée, and there is a weird-looking knife that I had never seen before in my life. Silly, little things like restaurant etiquette and faux pas can give me a lot of social anxiety sometimes, and since people in France aren't always quite subtle in their people-watching, I start internally freaking out. At this point, I'm frantically googling what it is and how to use it. It was a fish knife. And with new-found confidence à la Wikipedia, I start eating. Now, I should mention that I had been hiding my phone in my lap, under my napkin. And at this precise moment, my phone chooses to slide off my lap, and instead of quietly landing on the floor, it decides to collide with the metal base of the table and create the loudest noise ever heard by mankind. Red-faced and mortified, I look up to see at least 11 pairs of eyeballs all staring at me. How I did not expire on the spot, I will never know. And that is that, the story of how I learned how to use a fish knife.
Above Photo: Lake Champlain on the Vermont side in Burlington