Travel Tip – staying connected for cheap

08 Jul

My adventures in Japan included walking about town in Asakusa where locals ride bikes everywhere.

Vending machines were abundant.

You could even buy BEER from vending machines. Hmmm…

Needless to say, I saw a lot of different customs.  To combat the culture shock, I was happy to stay in touch with family and friends back home.

I played Draw Something … on the bullet train en route to Hiroshima, Japan.

I introduced my host Japanese family in Toyota City, Japan…to my family back home in Michigan.  They even got a tour of my home (thanks to my daughter) and watched a YouTube video of my son’s garage band gig. How cool is that?

I kept up my blog posts, including pictures, during early jet lagged mornings and airport layovers…in Japan and later Seattle, Washington.  Writing as I went helped keep things fresh.

I exchanged texts with my teenagers in the U.S…while I was in Tokyo, Toyota City, Hiroshima and Kyoto.  I loved seeing what they were up to and they knew they could text me any time.

I stayed connected to my friends and family back in the U.S. during my Japan trip – through emails, Facebook, Facetime and Textplus — all for about $8 per day!


I rented a pocket wifi from RentafoneJapan.  Before your trip, you order the pocket wifi online.  I selected the slower speed, but next time would get the faster one.  Then, when you arrive at your hotel, the pocket wifi is waiting for you.  They include a charger, instructions and a return (with postage) envelope for you to drop off once you are done using it. How simple is that?

The pocket wifi was perfect because all I needed was internet access and I was good to go.  The hotels offered internet access, but it costs about $15-20 per day.  Also, with the pocket wifi, I could use it anywhere, including the bullet train and pretty much anywhere.

Facetime was a free way to see and speak with my loved ones back home.  It’s a free app and is super easy to use with any Apple device, including the iTouch or iPad.  It worked much better than Skype — most of time.  There were some lag times, but I don’t think it was Facetime’s issue — probably more the wifi’s speed.  (Again, I would get a faster one next time).

Another free app I used was Textplus.  It was a simple app which gives you a temporary cell phone number (for free) and allows you to text anyone.  I loved keeping in touch with my teens this way.

Staying connected while in Japan helped me ease homesickness and being away from my children.  It was reassuring to know that I had the internet at my fingertips, regardless how remote an area I ventured.

Travel Tip #1: get a pocket wifi for your next trip abroad and utilize free apps like Facetime and Textplus.

~~ Maggie


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4 responses to “Travel Tip – staying connected for cheap

  1. agirlcalledemily

    July 8, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    You seem to have had such an amazing experience!! Soon enough it will all seem like some far away dream, as normal life becomes the norm once more, but you will never forget it!

  2. Michelle Isenhoff

    July 8, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    I couldn’t do any of that in the Smokies. No electric. No internet. 🙂

  3. Amy Higgins

    July 16, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    Hi Maggie! It looks like you are having a awesome time in Japan. I’m so jealous.
    Anyways, thanks for posting about textPlus to save you money while traveling. Where’s the strangest place on your trip that you were able to find free wifi? Or did your pocket wifi work everywhere for you?

    • Maggie Wunderlich

      July 16, 2012 at 2:26 PM

      Amy, I didn’t see any free wifi places; however, since I had the pocket wifi, I wasn’t on the lookout for them. I’ve heard there aren’t hardly any free wifi places, including Starbucks and McDonalds, but I’m not 100% sure on that. Thanks for your comments!


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