06 April 2016

Prep Your Technology Before Your Colombian Trip

Posted in Blog

Modern technology has made international travel so much easier. Gone are the days when travelers had to stuff guidebooks, language dictionaries and bulky cameras in their suitcases before jet setting. Now all those resources, plus tons of others, are in the palm of your hand if you have a smartphone.

Colombian trip

Whether your trip to Colombia is just a week vacation or you’re planning on traveling around the country for a long period of time, there are a few steps you should take and tidbits to remember when it comes to getting the most out of your technological gadgets while you’re here.

Using Your Phone

There are a couple of different methods to ensure you can use your smartphone while in Colombia. Some people opt to buy an international plan with their cell phone service provider. Keep in mind this option is usually pricey, but don’t turn your nose at it until you actually know how much money it would cost.

Other people buy a sim card from a local cell phone service provider once they arrive in Colombia. Tigo, Claro and Movistar are the most popular service providers throughout the country. Some of these providers require the customer to present a Colombian ID, or cedula, before purchasing the chip. The ID doesn’t have to be yours, but they need something on file. This is where Colombian friends come in handy.

If you get your hands on a sim card, it will only work if your phone is unlocked. Unlocking a phone is a task to do before leaving your home country, as you most likely will need to contact your service provider.

If all these options sound too costly or too much of a hassle (especially if your trip is short), consider the good ol’ fashion mooching off people’s wifi route. Travelers will be able to find wifi in restaurants or cafes in Colombia’s bigger cities like Bogotá, Medellin, Cartagena and Cali. Places with wifi might not be located on every block, but they’re there and usually have signs in the windows.

Apps to Download

What’s so great about buying that sim card or tracking down wifi if you don’t even have any cool apps? Here are some useful apps to have handy while in Colombia:
• TransmiSitp- This app helps navigate the bus system in Bogotá. It is especially helpful when you already know the names of the bus stops you are departing from and arriving to.
• Uber- Yes, Colombia has Uber and much to the distain of taxi drivers, it’s very popular.
• DuoLingo- Brush up on your Spanish or just learn the basics. This app makes learning a language fun. Plus it offers a variety of languages to learn, not just Spanish.
• Whatsapp- Colombians don’t usually send traditional SMS (regular text messages.) Everyone and their abuela uses Whatsapp to call and send messages. If you want to coordinate plans or just text with a local, Whatsapp is the preferred way to do it.

Don’t Forget!

Remember to bring a few adapters. Outlets holes in Colombia look like those in the United States (rectangular slits) but just because they’re the same shape doesn’t mean your chargers will stay in place once plugged in. Adapters can ensure a tighter fit.

Also remember to bring paper to write down important information like hotel addresses and flight times. Sure, you have that information in your phone, but phones die or get misplaced. It’s always smart to backup critical information on paper.

The Uncover Colombia Team