Go Back   Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB > Equipment, Travel > Communications

Communications Connecting - internet cafes, laptops, Palm devices, cell phones - how to connect, use, which one, and Bike to Bike and passenger intercoms.
Contact Overland Solutions for all your custom modifications and setup for overland travel.

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 5 Dec 2010
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Castlegar B.C. Canada
Posts: 9

Planning a trip from Canada to USA, Mexico and Central America. What are people using out there on the road, regular cell phone, smart phones, other. We have never even owned a cell phone so we are overwhelmed with the options. What works best and is cost effective? Thanks.
Reply With Quote
Old 5 Dec 2010
Super Moderator
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: bellingham, WA, USA
Posts: 2,016
I never used my cell after leaving the States for Latin America, and I never use it in Canada either (too expensive either way). I used Skype when I needed to make international calls (cheap) and phone shops-"cabinas"- or other people's mobile phones otherwise (cheap and sometimes free).

Always having to worry about getting the right sim cards for each country and keeping them charged up with minutes seemed like a lot of trouble to me. Paying for smartphone use seemed ridiculously expensive....and why do I want to carry a phone that costs almost as much as my bike is worth, more or less?

Don't know if that helps, but it worked for me for 70,000 km so maybe it'll work for you.

Reply With Quote
Old 6 Dec 2010
ozhanu's Avatar
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: New Haven, CT
Posts: 797
i think a normal phone which can work in all frequency can help you. also sending and receiving text messages (sms) is not that expensive abroad and would be good to keep in touch with your relatives and friends.

you can get such a phone for 50-100 usd from e-bay (nokia e51 for instance). don't forget to buy a pay-as-you-go sim card and top it up before you leave.

skype and other computer dependent communication styles can be cheap, but, you need to find a computer or carry one with internet connection.
ozhan u.
website under construction
Reply With Quote
Old 6 Dec 2010
Super Moderator
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: bellingham, WA, USA
Posts: 2,016
Most riders seem to carry netbooks or full-on laptops these days. If you really want a phone, be careful buying in the USA or Canada. The two things you need to remember are: "quad band" and "unlocked." Most phones sold in the States will not work in South America (wrong bands) and many are locked against using your own sim card.

Buying in Europe is different, of course.

Hope that helps.

Reply With Quote
Old 6 Dec 2010
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Aussie expat in Switzerland half way RTW
Posts: 614
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
The two things you need to remember are: "quad band" and "unlocked."


Use your own unlocked phone that supports the frequency in the destination country (countries).

Buy a local pre-paid SIM card is usually the cheapest option.

Downside is that you constantly change numbers... you decide whether to opt for convenience or price.

Personally I like my HP IPAQ smart phone (without data roaming) so I can use the functions on it like wifi or word or excel... I also have GS-911 that connect to my phone using bluetooth. Pretty handy for remote diagnostics of my GS.
TurboCharger + Francois (our BMW R1200gs) '07
www.riding2up.net, blog.riding2up.net
Reply With Quote
Old 29 Dec 2010
colebatch's Avatar
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: London / Moscow
Posts: 1,726
i use local SIM cards in smartphones, and use netbooks via wifi and via USB GSM dongles as well.
__________________________________________________ ________________
"Do NOT go wherever the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail"

Sibirsky Extreme - Adventure Motorcycling Guide to Siberia and Mongolia - on Facebook

Click here for Sibirsky Extreme Trail DVD Trailer

Last edited by colebatch; 1 Jan 2011 at 16:09.
Reply With Quote
Old 29 Dec 2010
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 136
And what about this:

Reply With Quote
Old 29 Dec 2010
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Toronto
Posts: 9
My feeling is it's not really necessary to have a cell phone, for if it's only to call someone when you need help, well who will you call? I think it's better to rely on the good people you meet when you have troubles, for they will be there first. Also if you want to call home, in any town almost you can just step inside a cabina, and call with a few coins. I agree also with the others, Skype and email is far more realistic and easier than getting a new card and minutes for every country in Central America.

Flibber T Gibbet | Surreality is what you see before your eyes do, before one’s instincts are misleaD

Reply With Quote
Old 30 Dec 2010
Registered Users
HUBB regular
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Vancouver, B.C. Canada
Posts: 93
World Phone / World SIM

Outfits like Brightroam will sell you, quite inexpensively, an unlocked GSM cell phone and a world SIM card that will work in most countries. The service is then post paid. I.E. you open an account, give them a credit card number, and then only pay for the time you actually use. The charges per minute are far less than roaming costs typically charged by North American cell carriers and you have one unchanging telephone number. Incoming texts are free, which is a plus.

These sorts of companies also typically sell some country specific SIM cards. If you use them within that country (e.g. I have one for Italy and one for the U.S.) the cost per minute is less than using a world SIM. These country specific SIMs will also work outside the particular country but at a higher per minute cost.

Sometimes you can benefit from promotions (e.g. no charge for a SIM card if you open an account).

It's a pretty cheap and simple way of maintaining the ability to communicate in a pinch and there is no ongoing monthly cost or up front prepaid use committement.

The SIMs I bought do expire in 90 days but I extended them for a year for $20.
Reply With Quote
Old 21 Jan 2011
Selous's Avatar
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: England
Posts: 420
When i was in Aisa, & Oz just took my old Nokia (Quad Band) and brought sim cards on the way round, & just before I left that country found a backpacker sold it to them for a lot less than i got it for still with money on it.
We are the Pilgrims, Master, we shall go Always a little further: it may be beyond that last blue mountain barred with snow, Across that angry or that glimmering sea.
Reply With Quote
Old 27 Jul 2011
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Fort Lauderdale,Forida,USA
Posts: 742

any of you guys use skype phone , looks pretty cheap and wifi is available almost in every big city .
Hendi Kaf


Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 Registered Users and/or Members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
mobile phones Motivator Communications 1 19 Aug 2010 02:44
Satellite Phones WillCalderwood Communications 4 15 Feb 2009 22:01
Are Sat phones etc really needed? butchdiamond Communications 26 20 Nov 2008 23:21
Satellite phones S-Mendus North America 0 8 Jan 2007 11:43
Mobile Phones John Roberts Communications 3 14 Aug 2005 18:04


NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

Next HU Eventscalendar

See all events


Latvia to Australia, an inspirational 5 month journey full of unexpected adventures!

HU DVD Autumn Special!

Take 40% off Road Heroes Part 1 until October 31 only!

Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (193 countries two-up on a Harley); Dr. Greg Frazier (5 times RTW); Tiffany Coates (RTW solo female); and Rene Cormier (University of Gravel Roads).

The first in an exciting new series, Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers."Inspiring and hilarious!"

"I loved watching this DVD!"

"Lots of amazing stories and even more amazing photographs, it's great fun and very inspirational."

"Wonderful entertainment!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'HEROES' on your order when you checkout.


Scottoiler automatic chain oilers. The most important accessory for your next motorcycle adventure!

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 17:47.