Cell phones in Central/South America?
I am planning to travel to Central and South America this fall, for Spanish study, volunteering, etc., for as long as I can afford to (months? a year or two?). I will probably start in Guatemala, then make my way through Central America and down into South America.
I do not currently have a cell phone, but was considering getting one to keep in touch with my family back home in the States, and with other travelers I meet along the way. However, I'm having a hard time finding useful information online about whether or not this is a good idea, what the requirements would be, and how much it would cost. Does anybody have any ideas?
I know that I would have to get a quad-band phone in order to have any hope that it would work in all of the countries I will be visiting. But I can't tell whether it would be cheaper to purchase an international plan in the States (anybody have any recommendations?), or to get a SIM-unlocked phone and buy a new SIM card in each country I visit.
Or, would it be cheaper and easier just to make calls from internet/phone cafes along the way, and skip the cell phone altogether? The most obvious downside of this option would mean that people back home or new friends wouldn't be able to contact me by phone if they needed to.
My friend wants to get all our friends to contribute to buying me an iPhone as a going-away gift, but I'm hesitant to accept it because it would be such an obvious theft-magnet.
Does anybody have any advice on phones (or alternative means of keeping in touch) while traveling? Thanks in advance for any insights!
But, a cheaper option for you, if you don't absolutely need a US phone number for people to be able to get in contact (they don't let you call internationally from bootcamp)- is to go with a cheapie throwaway. Prepaid is better... that way you don't blow your budget on cell calls, and learn to use it only in an emergency, or to let people contact you. Because, there's always Skype if you want to call out...and it's 10 or 15 cents a minute, instead of two dollars
Furthermore: iphones, blackberries, or ANYTHING that looks even remotely expensive... is a sure way to attract ladrones. Tell your friends, that unless they have a strong desire for you to be robbed and assaulted- to exnay on the iphone.
That also goes for jewelry, computers, expensive mp3 players, designer handbags, shoes, and cameras.
Just say no.
My verdict: Roaming is even more expensive than calling out. Unless you need a US line, I strongly agree with Roque- go for the prepaid local job.
-Herman Mellville, "Moby Dick"
For information about Suchitoto, El Salvador see http://www.gaesuchitoto.com and for general travel information about El Salvador see the site in my signature.
Have a great trip
Suchitoto, El Salvador
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