How to keep in contact with home

Old Jan 28th, 2011, 01:22 AM
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How to keep in contact with home

We are off to China in May for a month. Just wondering how to keep in contact with home. (Australia) I only have a basic Nokia phone, and I mean basic as I don't need to use it that much. I have a laptop but a big one and don't want to take that with me. I have considered a small notebook. Would this work or are there other options, eg like buying a cheap phone and sim card for the month we are in china and then throwing it away.
I know there are cheap phone cards but not sure how they work or if most hotels would charge a fortune to use their phones. Any help would be appreciated.
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Old Jan 28th, 2011, 01:45 AM
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Most of the hotels will have a big surcharge for using their phone both for domestic and international calls. IMO you have a few options and they are as follow:

1/. Even your most basic Nokia might work as long as it's a GSM phone. I would bring it along and buy a SIM card at the first opportunity. Worst case you will have to buy a new unlock phone and they don't cost that much. Make sure you buy a prepaid SIM that can call internationally.

2/. With your notebook you will be able to "Skype" or use the internet phone as long as you have internet connection and the people at home are online.

When I go to China I buy a prepaid SIM, one that I can top-up when needed and I would bring my notebook as well.
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Old Jan 28th, 2011, 05:12 AM
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Calling cards like www.pennytalk.com cheap or Skype/Internet

cheapest best for me...

www.mobal.com works well if you must be in touch at all times
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Old Jan 28th, 2011, 06:06 AM
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Buy a local prepaid SIM like China Mobile's Shenzhouxing. Fairly cheap.

Skype is a good idea, since most hotels have free ethernet. I'd bring a short ethernet cable since those provided in the hotel rooms are often "very well used".
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Old Jan 28th, 2011, 08:34 AM
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I used the e-mail from my Kindle and, when available, free internet access from my lodging.
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Old Jan 28th, 2011, 01:53 PM
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If you had either your heavy laptop, or, alternately, a notebook, you could use SKYPE, as I do when travelling.

Your friends need not be on SKYPE, as you can pre-pay , and call them.

A tip ( I am Australian as well)..Dont use SKYPE to call mobile phones in Australia. Its expensive. However, you can call land lines in Australia for about $0.03 a minute . You pay an initial $0.066 connection fee. SKYPE is very good, but, for some reason, calls to Australian mobiles are expensive. I can still call mobiles in China and USA for about $0.03 a minute.

This is what I do when I am travelling, and,of course, I use Skype when I am back in Australia.
I have been in China, Cambodia and Thailand in past few weeks, and have used SKYPE there in hotels from my room.
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Old Feb 6th, 2011, 07:02 PM
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OP did not say where in China, but my experinces in SE China, around Shanghai and Nanjing, indicate there are good networks. The internet, albeit slow, may be included with your hotel room.

I use BB Bold, but I know you can buy a SIM card in Shanghai Pudong airport.
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Old Feb 8th, 2011, 09:47 AM
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I used Skype from a netbook (very small, cheap laptop) to call home frequently. All of my hotel rooms included free internet and I used a Skype subscription so it was only $3 for unlimited calls to the US and Canada. Check into subscriptions for calling to Australia. They have subscriptions for 60, 120, 400 and unlimited minutes and unlimited is $7 for a month. That would allow you to call home for very cheap if you have a computer and internet.

If you take the computer, it also works well as a photo backup so you can clean off your camera cards and/or have a backup incase something happens to them (lost/stolen/corrupted somehow).

However, if you don't have access to a small laptop and don't wish to carry your large one with then it wouldn't make sense to go buy one just for this trip (if you'll use it for other trips then that's different). It would be cheaper to buy a cell phone in China and a SIM card that can be topped up.
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