Some challenges are a bigger pain than others.
Those challenges can be exacerbated when you’re on the road.
One of the biggest challenges I face when traveling is finding a convenient way to get connected to the internet. There are days when I need to check my email a dozen times (when an editor is chasing me down for a photo of a rabid squirrel, or needs me to write a quick story about poutine and maple syrup), but I can’t spend my entire day at an internet café or locked down in my hotel room. I need quick, easy access to the web. When I’m at home, this is as simple as jumping onto my cell network and smartphoning my way to email bliss. But when I’m traveling, I prefer not to have to pay outrageous roaming fees to download a couple of bytes of data.
There are easy workarounds in some countries. In Thailand, for example, it’s as easy as picking up a pre-loaded SIM at the airport and popping it into your unlocked phone. But in other countries, where phone laws and regulations are tighter, it’s not that simple. Getting a SIM, or even a pre-paid phone, can be a huge problem, or next to impossible.
Enter DOODAD. I read about DOODAD on AFAR.com, and fired off an email to the customer service department about picking one up.
From the web: “When you’re traveling, you don’t need another headache, you need a DOODAD. DOODAD is an international SIM card that gives simple, cheap data roaming in 69 countries (and growing) at great, flat rates. So you can look up maps, search for that cool bar, and keep your friends and family up to date with your adventures.”
That’s it. That’s all. That simple. I thought there might be some kind of catch, or outrageous roaming overage fees, or throttling feature that would turn my phone into a 1996 dial-up tuner. But there’s no catch, there are no extra fees, and there’s no throttle. The only thing you need to get started with a DOODAD is an unlocked SIM-enabled phone. There are dozens of websites out there that will send you an unlock code for small fee; I unlocked mine for $35.
I popped my DOODAD into my Samsung Galaxy SII, followed the instructions to activate the device, and was connected within seconds. I was in North-East Wyoming when I first tried the device, so I was connected to AT&T’s 3G network. From there I was able to access data via my phone like a normally would. There’s no phone number associated with this SIM, but that’s not something I’m worried about; when I’m overseas I can easily jump on google, Skype, or something similar to make a call.
The DOODAD comes with an adapter that allows it to fit any SIM slot; a clever bit of engineering that should allow anyone with a SIM-enabled phone access to the net.
I took the DOODAD on a cross-country trip from Sheridan to Toronto, and never experienced a single hiccup. Across Canada and the USA, I was charged at a rate of .30 cents a minutes; much better than what I’d have to fork over while roaming out of country on my usual network plan.
I picture DOODAD being a handy tool going forward. I’m off to Ecuador and then Guatemala on the 15th of October, and my itinerary is packed with activities. I won’t be seeing the inside of my hotel room until late in the evening each day, so having quick access to my email whenever I want it is going to be great. And, of course, I can mess about on Twitter and Instagram while I’m gone. Go team!
I’ll report back with a full international review when I return from South and Central America, but for now, I can’t say enough about this little gadget.
*I activated my DOODAD with $5 in credit and was topped up by the Customer Service department for the purposes of testing the device on the road. The opinions above are mine and mine alone; DOODAD was not consulted before I posted this review. I have no official partnership or affiliation with DOODAD.