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Old 02-13-2012, 02:36 PM   #1
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Smile How to keep in touch at home

My husband and I are going to go to Alaska this summer and are leaving shortly and would like to be able to keep in touch with family and friends at home. Can anyone tell me the best way to do that? I am new to this site and hopefully someone has experience that they are willing to share.
Thanks
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Old 02-13-2012, 03:59 PM   #2
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Hi dreamseeker2,
Welcome to iRV2 and the Newmar Kountry Klub forum. The bottom line is to think wireless. The most reliable, for your trip would be a Satellite dish. Unless blocked by trees, you'd have communications just about wherever you travel. The down side is it is expensive to purchase equipment, set it up and monthly fee. The next step is cellular. For this, you'll need to do some shopping. Consider visiting the local carriers' stores. Ask them how their contract works and costs for the trip you are planning. Ask for a coverage map. Ask about voice and data (ex. email). Then purchase the equipment and contract where you find the most value.
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Old 02-13-2012, 04:07 PM   #3
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We keep in touch with either email or cellular service. We have Verizon wireless for the computer and it has worked out great so far. May not be the fastest service but it works for us. Our cellular phones are all family friendly and we can talk or text as much as we want whenever we want.

Welcome to the forum. Hope you enjoy your time on the site. Enjoy your trip and hope all goes well. Be safe and Happy Motoring!!!!!
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Old 02-13-2012, 04:15 PM   #4
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During our trip to Alaska in 2009 we used our AT&T cell phones, data card and campground WiFi. During the trip through Canada you will need a cell plan that provides you with lower rates. You can contact your carrier for details on what the offer. Once you arrive in Alaska your phone and data card if you have one should be at the same rates you have in the US, but check with your carrier to make sure they provide roaming in Alaska at the same rate as the rest of the US.
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Old 02-13-2012, 04:29 PM   #5
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We have Verizon for cell, if you are going thru Canada thou to Alaska you need to make sure to either have Canada added to your plan or to NOT use the cell while anywhere near Canada. Double check whichever carrier you have to make sure about Canada or Mexico if you go south at some point.

When there is a signal for the computer you can use Skype. If everyone downloads Skype you can call and video call each other for FREE no matter where you are worldwide. If there are young kids or grandkids to talk to then Skype is probably the way to go.

We have a (now) 5 yr old granddaughter, if you put her on the phone after about 3 mins she is done talking but put her on a video call thru Skype she will just keep talking and running around so she can show us things she's learning in school or things she's found while geocaching or her and grandpa show each other their new "silly" hats .... well you get the picture. We also get to either text, call or video call our youngest son in Korea for free.
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Old 02-13-2012, 05:17 PM   #6
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The past 4-5 years we had basic AT&T cell phones. Coverage was poor once you left the populated areas or hy-ways. Our RV'ing consisted of rural OH and Northern PA. So most of the time we didn't have any reception. So every 4-5 days we would make it a habit to go to a local library to email family. I did notice other campers were able to use there Verizon cell phones at most places where AT&T was not available. So this past far we switched to Verizon and we also upgraded to a data plan with a IPhone. It's been nice...

While at home in the city our AT&T service would experience dropped calls from time to time. Some days not getting or receiving a call in the basement rec room would cause me to go upstairs to get a signal. With Verizon I have not experience any reception lose or dropped calls.

So far with the camping we have done in the fall, there has not been one place where we have lost reception. It's nice to check weather forecasts, sports scores, local attractions, keep in touch with family, Craigslist, EBay from the comfort of my recliner at the campfire. Well worth the $30 extra a month. Also received a 15% discount from my employer....So the end cost for 2 cells was only a few more per month. Life is good.

Here is a link to cell service maps for AK. AK. cell phone coverage
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Old 02-13-2012, 05:53 PM   #7
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It doesn't matter which cell carrier you use, there will be times of intermittent or no coverage areas. We have been fortunate that Wifi was available in those areas with limited or no cell coverage.

With that said, we have AT&T. I have Mifi and DW has the iPad, both with AT&T coverage. In 2010 we traveled from Texas over to to and up the East Coast, across to Niagara, up and around the Great Lakes, back home to Texas. We also made a West Coast trip over to San Diego, up to Whidbey Is., WA, across through ID, WY, MT and back to Texas. Our AT&T coverage was lost less than a handful of times. We are very pleased with it.

We also have the Family to Family plan so those calls are free, and we have roll over minutes now totaling more than 5000. So phone is our primary means, and Facetime (if you have a MAC) is always nice. Skype would be the alternative for the PC Laptop. Since we don't call or Facetime every day, email is a good way of informing of schedules and on-goings of your trip, or, a web blog.

Happy trails.
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Old 02-14-2012, 08:34 AM   #8
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Thank you all for your imput. Our phone carrier is AT&T but we got MiFi with Verizon for internet since my local AT&T store told me Verizon had better MiFi coverage in Alaska. I was looing to see if anyone has used a blog type posting to keep in touch so friends check and see where you are and what is going on. Thanks again this is new to me and husband can't even turn on the computer.
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Old 02-14-2012, 10:45 AM   #9
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We have Verizon MiFi and unless they have changed in the last couple of months you do not want to use it in Canada. We have used our Verizon cell phones without getting additional charges, but we have only made very quick calls and very few calls in Canada. If you use the MiFi or any internet access you will get a very large bill for data usage. Texting can also cost quite a bit, I'm told. A few emails and a little internet surfing will cost in the hundreds. I know, I did it. We also used to have AT&T and it was the same. They do not have agreements with any of the little cell phone companies in Canada and you will pay lots. I used our AT&T WiFi two nights and the bill was $350.

Use CG WiFi or we have also found a free WiFi near hotels a time or two. We needed to do some emails in Fort Nelson last year going up so I asked at a hotel that I could see the WiFi but it was secured. They charged me $5 and gave me the access code. Coming back down last fall we stopped at the same place and noticed they still had the same access code, so it didn't cost quite as much to use it going south. I guess I owe them $5 bucks.

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Old 02-14-2012, 11:11 AM   #10
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We use Facebook.

My wife has a Droid and takes pictures as we go along and posts daily.

Especially if I goof something up she's right on top of it, snaps a picture and posts it on Facebook within a minute of the occurrence.
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Old 02-14-2012, 11:17 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dreamseeker2 View Post
Thank you all for your imput. Our phone carrier is AT&T but we got MiFi with Verizon for internet since my local AT&T store told me Verizon had better MiFi coverage in Alaska. I was looing to see if anyone has used a blog type posting to keep in touch so friends check and see where you are and what is going on. Thanks again this is new to me and husband can't even turn on the computer.
We don't use blogs... but I did provide updates and photos every few days via my photo website. Our kids, friends and relatives kept track of where and what we were doing by visiting ronniesphotos' Photos : RV Vacations : Alaska - 2009 | SmugMug
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Old 02-14-2012, 11:20 AM   #12
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The problem in Canada is that there are two carriers Rogers and Altel I think. If I remember correctly Rogers is affiliated with Verizon and is good for some of western Canada. Altel is connected to ATT and in the west is only good for the main cities. Honestly for the price you might be better off getting a prepaid cell from Rogers when you cross the border and throw it away when you return back across the border south. Cell service across the borders is really expensive. Even if you have the right carrier. Which you do not.
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Old 02-14-2012, 11:26 AM   #13
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You can do some blogs for free. If you have a gmail account (which is free) you can use blogspot for a free blog. If you give family and friends the web address of your blog they can check it out whenever they want or not.

You could use Facebook but, at least with alot of my family and friends, they are not on FB as much and some, besides me, have deactived their FB accounts.

You could just email everyone in the family an update every so often but alot of people I know keep changing their email address to try out the newest, freest place.

You could text people from your cell but then again not everyone may have a cell or a cell that gets texts.
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Old 02-15-2012, 04:18 PM   #14
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Though out the West, we found that Verizon was king. Verizon Mifi was the strongest when service was available. Going through Canada, we found that buying Canadian phone cards were the cheapest. In most out of the way areas, Verizon and ATT signals were non existing anyway. Our Verizon Mifi worked well in AK in all but the 'boonies'.

We talked to a fellow US RVer that used Verizon to send two pics via phone in Canada...cost $60.00. Bob
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