Travel

72 Hours In Ontario

Over the weekend I took advantage of a stopover in Ontario on my way to Orlando. I managed to visit my family and friends in Acton and Toronto. While I couldn’t see everyone, I worked in quite a few.  

   
Also got to visit the awesome Christmas windows at Hudson’s Bay downtown after a fantastic lunch at Drake 150. The windows always gets me in a festive mood, and the food has always been great at this restaurant located downtown Toronto on Bay Steeet.  

    
   
Currently I’m headed to Orlando, taking the new UP Express Airport shuttle from Union Station. The price is a little steep at just over $27, however the trains are super modern and the trip is only 25 minutes long. Pretty impressed with it, there’s also free WiFi. I was going to use Uber, but didn’t want to get caught in traffic.
   
I’ve got a connection in Newark (ugh) then I’ll be arriving in Orlando just after midnight. Off to Universal tomorrow to see Diagonal Alley!

Cell Phone Service While Travelling

iPhone SIM Card

Some people travel to disconnect from the world and leave their phone at home, I’m the complete opposite of this. I still want to be able to check my email, make calls if necessary, and of course stay involved in all my social media efforts. However, I don’t want a $1500 cell phone bill when I return.

Roaming abroad using your Canadian SIM card is crazy expensive and don’t even get me started on using data! Looking into alternative options for using your phone is a must if you need to stay connected. Of course you can use WiFi for most things, but if you want to be completely connected without having to search out a Starbucks, McDonald’s or whatever local establishment has free wireless, getting a different SIM is ideal.

Here are a couple of options for staying connected abroad. (Your phone needs to be unlocked, so if it’s not, check with your carrier about getting this done.)

If you are travelling to the United States, I had great luck with Ready SIM and would totally recommend it. I purchased the card online, received it a few days later and upon arrival installed it into my phone. A few updates to my phone settings and I had 1 gig of data to use for 14 days. Simple, easy and affordable. I didn’t opt into voice service for this trip, but that’s an option also.

Ready SIM

After doing a lot of research on affordable options for roaming overseas, the best service I found is called KnowRoaming. Like Ready SIM, you purchase it online and the shipping is pretty quick. Check them out here.

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It’s essentially a small SIM sticker you put on top of your existing SIM. You download their app, set up your plan and it’s smart enough to know when to switch to the correct settings when you are outside of your home country. It was a bit of a pain to get installed correctly, because you have to line it up perfectly on your SIM. My first attempt was a failure and I ended up taking the sticker off before calling support. DON’T DO THAT! Their support is excellent and they sent me a new one via FedEx right away. The second attempt worked out better, but still required adjusting the sticker a bit with my thumbs.

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The app was a bit wonky to get set up, but everything is set to go now. I haven’t used the service yet, but I leave next week for my trip so will update this post once I use the service.

What are your suggestions for staying connected abroad without breaking the bank? Leave me a comment below and let me know!

 

 

The Dirty 30…better late than never!

Dirty 30

To many people, 30 is a major milestone, but I don’t think every year you get older requires a big party. Believe it or not, I didn’t do anything on my actual birthday. I did however spend the week before visiting family and friends back in Toronto, Ottawa, the cottage more. That counts, right?

For my 30th birthday, I chose to postpone the celebration for a little bit later in the year. How am I celebrating you may ask? I’m taking the trip of a lifetime to Japan and Thailand…something I’ve wanted to do for over 10 years. I’ll be taking many flights and doing the whole backpacking thing that I’ve never made the time to do until now. I finally have the money, the great job and the ability to take a month off work to take the trip. The stars have aligned for this…and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ll be spending time in Tokyo (including Tokyo Disneyland & Disney Sea), Bangkok, other as yet to be determined places in Thailand & SE Asia, plus a quick day in San Francisco on the way home. Why not?

I’ll be spending a month travelling to places I don’t speak the language, making friends with strangers, living outside my comfort zone in unfamiliar places and mist likely having a blast. That to me is the best birthday present I could ask for!

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