Chris Guillebeau of the “Art of Nonconformity” shares his 2009 opinion of how to travel with communications gear:

Phone — I just have a basic Verizon LG model, which only works in the U.S. and Canada. Because I live in North America, our international phone options are limited. I’ve thought about getting a world phone, but since I don’t answer the phone at home very often, I decided there’s not much of a need to ignore it elsewhere in the world.

Verizon MiFi — At least in the U.S. now, I have my own WiFi hotspot wherever I go. I can also share it with up to four others, which I like to do in airports that don’t offer free WiFi. Coming back to Grand Central Station from Hastings, New York recently, I was able to work online for 40 minutes, and I shared the signal with my friend Ishita so that she could work too.

Again, if you live in a more developed country than mine, you might not understand why this is so awesome. Those of us not in Finland or Japan have to struggle to get online when we leave our homes and offices. For me, the MiFi is great and definitely worth the $60/month I pay.

The impression that I’m getting from Chris is that his feature phone plus his laptop (mentioned in his packing list) combine to make the core of his communications kit. Chris also mentions this thing called a “world phone”—and how he really doesn’t need it.

My novice guess is that one can get around the world with a combination of free or fee-based Wi-Fi and roaming—however with roaming there is this warning:

International roaming minutes, on the other hand, are billed as separate minutes of use. These can be pricey with AT&T and can go all the way up to $4.99 per minute. These fees by country can be found here.

Windows Phone 7 for a Travel Tool?

Windows Phone 7 caused me to ‘surrender’ to my carrier and take a new, two-year contract. This is after almost a decade of being unsupported and, finally, unlocked. Why did I do this? Windows Phone 7 provides:

  • A communication center that replaces almost all of the functionality of a computer big enough for a wired keyboard.
  • A media player comes from Zune ecosystem. I agree with Paul Thurrott saying, “Where iTunes is big and heavy, Zune 4.0 feels light and airy, and it features both a better design and better usability.”
  • A “marketplace” ecosystem for my years of experience as a Microsoft developer.

And now the critiques:

  • Self-Critique: I tend to forget that wireless synching with the Zune desktop does not happen when the phone is not on a charger. This makes sense as it should prevent data corruption during a power failure.
  • There are too many clicks for me to toggle Wi-Fi. Maybe there’s a shortcut out there…
  • By omission, Paul Thurrott suggests (to me) that the People Hub does not support contacts. Since supports, this lack of support is surely temporary.
  • Skype says ‘no’ to Windows Phone 7
  • Not sure whether this is a loss: swyping.
  • From Microsoft: “Finally, we come to Bluetooth connectivity. Although you can’t use Bluetooth to connect to the Internet, you can use it to pair your phone with a Bluetooth accessory, such as a car kit or a headset for hands-free phone calls. [emphasis added]”

Before Windows Phone 7, I had to consider these travel hardware options:

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