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  1. Default Laptop and Mobile Phone in the Deep South

    My husband and I are coming to the US for the first time in 4 weeks. This will take us so much out of our comfort zone you would not believe!!!!! We are retired and not very technological. We are spending 6 weeks travelling through Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. Most of this time will be spent searching out live music - especially BLUES music, my husband's passion. To plan our trip as we go along we intend to bring a laptop. We are on a very tight budget and thought booking accommodation ahead, checking admission fees, etc would save us money. We are used to using wifi in the UK but - this will sound incredibly stupid - do we need any special equipment to e-mail and use skype to the UK from the US and e-mail within the US? Also, will my husband's Blackberry Curve phone work? I have a very basic pay as you go Orange network phone; will this work or do I need something special?
    As you can guess, this trip is beyond our previous experience and, although we are very excited, we are just a bit anxious.
    Any advice anyone can give us will be VERY much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default It really is all quite easy.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    First the technology. Your laptop will be fine, and wifi is so widely available in the US, you will find it almost everywhere. Most accommodation (of all types) has wifi, and often free. Many establishments, such as Starbucks have free wifi, and you can even find it at rest areas along some of the interstates. So no worries there. The phone is another matter, and not likely to work. But hey!! get onto Skype and you will be able to call anywhere. Otherwise you can buy one of the pay as you go phones. Bringing your phone and getting a sim card is not likely to work, as sim cards are rarely used in the US.

    Thinking of planning tools, etc. for your trip, make sure you bring your UK automobile club membership with you. It will entitle you to tourism information at all AAA offices, as well as free maps and accommodation guides. It will make the world of difference having good paper maps with you. You cannot be guaranteed to have wifi in every place, and relying solely on a gps is not recommended. Furthermore, when you see a sign which offers discounts for AAA members, tell them you are a member of an automobile club which has a reciprocal arrangements with AAA. Some will give you the discount, some won't. But hey! it 's always worth asking.

    As for booking accommodation. Booking before you come is no guarantee that it will be cheaper. There are booklets which you can pick up along the way, at travel plazas, welcome centres and rest areas, etc. (as well as on the internet) with discount coupons for accommodation. These are mostly for walk-ins. It all depends on how comfortable you are with not booking beforehand. Alternatively you might like to check out the reservations tab on the green bar above, where there are some good deals to be had.

    You will love this trip. And yes, I too was retired before I ever took my first road trip. It was daunting, but now, almost 100000 miles later, I am planning my fifth trip. So plan on future trips, as you will find it becomes addictive.

    Enjoy the planning.

    Last edited by Lifemagician; 08-30-2011 at 03:10 AM. Reason: typo

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Your Blackberry and Orange phones would probably work here on the AT&T and T-Mobile networks (our only GSM carriers), but you would be doing some very expensive international roaming and you can't buy a US sim without a US address. One of our basic pay-as-you-go phones would be your best bet for making calls to and from other US phones. Use Skype to call back to the UK.

    Pay as you go phones are as little as $20, and they will come preloaded with some airtime. You can buy airtime refill cards just about anywhere - gas stations, convenience stores, truckstops, even grocery stores. A couple brands to look for are Tracfone and AT&T Go Phone, you can buy those at Walmart.

  4. Default

    Thanks a lot! It was really nice of you to reply. We will take your advice and buy a cheap pay-as-you go phone when we get to the US. It was heartening to hear that you, too, were retired before you made your first road trip. We have never been out of Europe before - and then only for a week at a time so this is a real change for us. My husbands passion for blues music is responsible for us doing this now. I only hope we find some!
    Very best wishes and thanks again.

  5. Default

    Thanks, GLC, your advice is much appreciated. We will buy a cheap pay-as-you-go phone when we arrive. Didnt know about not being able to buy a sim without a US address. Bit different to the UK - but that's why we're coming.
    Thanks again.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default We like to hear.

    Glad we could help, and that you now feel a little more confident about the adventure you are about to undertake. Now we have a request of you.....

    Do you think you and your husband could take some notes of your trip, where you go, what you find, etc., as you go, and post a RoadTrip Field Report? This could be of great benefit to future travellers, and we like to read about your trip as well. Photos are always appreciated. You can do this as you go (since you will be travelling with a computer) or after the trip.

    Take care and stay safe.


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