Trying something different for data on this trip: I bought a Vodaphone SIM card for my iPad. You can buy the sim for €10, and 500MB data for €30. At today’s exchange rate, that’s about $50, which from AT&T would buy you 125MB and the gracious option to pay through the nose by the megabyte if you went over (or just didn’t time your addition of the plan to the right pro-rated time of the month for the rest of your plan).
I did get my 3GS unlocked in anticipation of this trip, but it uses a different size SIM card, and I’m not sure yet if I’ll need it. Maybe if I run into a Micro SIM to regular SIM adapter in some store somewhere I’ll give it a try. The iPad has a pretty enormous battery, though, so it seems like a good solution for data access while on the go. Plus, the iPad was never locked, so that’s handy.
We also blew $10 on the stupid 50 International Text Message addon for our phones, which may or may not be pointless; I couldn’t find any info on how much international text messages cost if you don’t buy a plan, but I figure it was safe to assume they were overpriced.
The iPhone 4S does have Wiki Offline and MapsWithMe Pro on it, per Nelson’s great post on iPhone software for international travel. Overall, though, I expect to use my phone as my camera, because, damn, the 4S takes some nice photos. I didn’t even bring my wide angle DSLR lens; I’m just leaving the new 70-200 IS USM lens on it the whole time. (OK, I brought my 50 1.4, too.)
Also for this trip, I bought the new Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover (two, actually, one for me and one for Carrie). If it wasn’t for the fact that Diablo 3 was coming out tomorrow, I probably wouldn’t have brought a laptop at all :).
I also finally switched from a shoulder camera bag to a backpack. The shoulder bag hurt my shoulder, and if I’m carrying around a DSLR and an iPad I want the weight a little better distributed. We’ll see how I like it after a day of walking around versus the convenience of having the camera easy to hand. I suspect since I’ll be using the 4S a lot more to take pictures that it’ll be just fine.
Post-trip update: Never did buy a SIM card for the 3GS; using the iPad worked well. Meant I carried around my backpack a lot, though. Also, in past trips I’ve blown through 750MB+ easily; this time I coasted in at 400MB, and didn’t feel like my usage pattern was any different. Offline maps & wiki really turn out to make up for a lot of data usage. If I had offline Yelp I’d have almost everything covered. (That being said, Wiki Offline’s search for anything other than the article name is pretty much crap, so Google was sometimes still required.)
We were coordinating five people for most of the trip and the ability to send text messages turned out to be a huge plus, and at $10, a lot cheaper than a smartphone data plan. So I guess SMS isn’t totally dead yet!
Also, apparently AT&T Visual Voicemail doesn’t work if you aren’t buying an AT&T Intl data plan; just being on WiFi isn’t enough to retrieve the messages. So that’s annoying. (And also argues for making sure your airline is set up to send you texts, not phone calls, if they need to notify you of anything.)