Road trip tip: cell coverage in the States

As I prepare for my next road trip to Tofino, I’m reflecting back on a road trip that I took in July, when my father came out to visit. I wish I could spend every weekend going someplace new and travelling but work limits that.

Seattle, WA
After spending time in Vancouver, we booked a rental car and headed into Washington State. After a couple of stops, we were pulling into our Airbnb ready to settle in for a multi-day trip.

Road trips hold a special place in my heart, I love the open road, driving on the highway and having the freedom to stop when and where you wish. One problem that I’ve experienced when crossing the border is my cell phone goes into roaming and the costs are ridiculous. I use to stand in front of a big coffee chain every time I went down, just to check my e-mail or to look up directions. The one time I didn’t, I came home to hundreds of dollars on my cell bill. I learned my lesson!

This time, I was looking at buying an upgrade plan with my carrier, Bell, however it was too expensive for data. I remembered a friend mentioning about using Roam Mobility. I tried previously but with my locked phone I couldn’t. Thankfully, Canadians can now unlock their cell phones while still in contract for a small fee, I paid $50.00 with Bell but it’s worth it in the long run. Once your phone is unlocked, you can then use Sim Cards when travelling.

We could have worked around not using cell data but it saved us time and our sanity at points. The plan helped us when we needed directions, something to eat or if I wanted to check my email or share photos on Instagram. I didn’t use my phone as often as if I was travelling solo but it was a huge benefit when needed. I don’t think my guests would have appreciated waiting for me while I stood outside of a coffee shop to download my email.

I’m a fan of Roam Mobility. They offered me a free trial on this trip to test it out but for my trip in October, I’ll be purchasing my own. All you need to do is purchase their SIM card, activate it and purchase your plan. Once you cross the border, put the card in (remember a paper clip to open your holder) and you will have coverage. For more information, check out How It Works page on the Roam Mobility website.

I only used it for data and the occasional call but being able to connect when travelling is helpful and almost essential these days. When I want to disconnect, I head to the forest or an island but when I’m in a city or town, I want to be able to use my cell without paying a fortune. Roam Mobility was reliable and the service worked great. For our road trip, it came in handy but I think it will be even more useful when I head down to Seattle solo and need to keep in touch and meet up with friends.

Canadian cell phone costs are more expensive than our neighbours to the South. Buying a Roam Mobility card allows Canadians reasonable priced excess to our cell phones while travelling.

I’m curious, have you tried out Roam Mobility? If not, you should!

Download Seattle
Download Seattle from the water
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6 thoughts on “Road trip tip: cell coverage in the States

  1. I didn’t know it was so complicated in the other direction (I purchase international data for when I travel to Canada to from the US). But honestly (shhh–don’t tell AT&T) I’d pay ANYTHING to keep my data. I don’t know how people live without it! (But then I have issues…)

  2. International roaming charges are the worst! Glad you found an option that works for you. It’s so nice to have internet available for things like directions and finding places when you are out and about!

  3. Carrier add ons can sometimes be OK for shirt trips but doing nothing will absolutely result in an expensive cell bill. Will be interesting to compare to Roam.

  4. I can’t count the number of times I’ve loitered in front of a coffee shop to catch a signal! I need to get a better handle on things to keep up with internet work when I travel.

  5. I use Roam while in the USA and the thing that I love most is the free calls to Canada. I’ve used other US services in the past but you have to pay extra to call back home. With Roam it’s free. Yay!

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