Digital, Featured, Mongol Rally

Stay Connected – Travel with a Kindle

15 Comments 18 October 2011

Kindle

My Kindle kept me tweeting through Mongolia.

I found a new piece of travel gear this summer which I’ll never leave home without any longer. As I raced through the Mongol Rally, my new Amazon Kindle was probably my most used travel gear after my camera. I used it constantly, yet I never finished a book during the whole 5 weeks of travel.

One of the most common questions I get when people speak to me about my participation in the Mongol Rally is “How did you stay connected? It seemed like you were always tweeting. Did you have a satellite phone?”

The surprising answer I give them is “I used my Kindle to stay connected.”

Kindle 3G

Yeah for 3G!

When I was in Seattle this spring attending the World Domination Summit, Dave from WhatsDaveDoing.com and I were talking about how I would stay connected during the rally. At the time I didn’t really have an answer. However that’s when he recommended and showed me his Kindle with 3G. As I sat and played around with it using the ‘Experimental Browser’ (this is seriously what it’s called in the menu dropdown!), I was intrigued. And I repeated somewhat incredulously to him, “You said the connectivity is free?”

“Yes” he answered with a mischievous smile as if he were sharing a secret to a hidden treasure.

I started to research this free 3G connectivity further on the Amazon website and found the following details:

Free 3G Wireless
No annual contracts, no monthly fees. Download books anytime, anywhere. Unlike cell phones, with Kindle Keyboard 3G there are no monthly fees or commitments — Amazon pays for Kindle Keyboard 3G’s wireless connectivity.

Global 3G Coverage
Travel the globe and still get books in under 60 seconds with wireless coverage in over 100 countries and territories.

I looked at the coverage map and to my surprise I saw that most of our route was covered in some way.

kindle coverage map

Kindle Coverage map

So I did it – I purchased the Kindle Keyboard 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 6″ E Ink Display – includes Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers

And decided to add it to my possible ways to stay connected during the Mongol Rally without draining my bank account.

As we left the UK and our Tep Mifi device behind I turned on my Kindle and immediately it picked up a 3G signal. I opened up the Experimental Browser and went to twitter.com and was able to follow hashtag streams as well as easily reply to tweets and post my own. Now the web browser is nothing to write home about but it’s perfectly adequate for checking and sending e-mail, looking stuff up, and reading mostly-text websites. Truly – the websites do need to be simple and no flash or Java script – but most of the popular websites offer a mobile version of their site that is pretty light and simple which makes it useable on the Kindle.

Pros:

  • Automatically finds 3G connections as you move throughout a country and cross borders without having to do a thing.
  • It saves you money on ridiculous international mobile phone roaming charges. Allows you to easily check your email and social media accounts. It’s free!
  • It picked up signals better than our unlocked mobile phones.
  • Oh yeah, in addition apparently it allows you to store and read books too! Who knew?!

Cons:

  • The browser is really clunky. You have to be very patient for it to load the screens. It’s sort of like playing Atari again. Old school.
  • There’s no touch screen functionality. Once again – think old school.
  • No color
  • The battery life is shorter when using 3G

New Version:

There is a new color touch-version out of the Kindle that moves it a step closer to the Ipad but still places it in an affordable price bracket.  Kindle Fire, Full Color 7″ Multi-touch Display, Wi-Fi

However – read the details closely. This new touch Kindle does not include free 3G. Amazon states,

“We apologize for the confusion. Our new Kindle Touch 3G enables you to connect to the Kindle Store, download books and periodicals, and access Wikipedia – all over 3G or Wi-Fi. Experimental web browsing (outside of Wikipedia) on Kindle Touch 3G is only available over Wi-Fi. Our Kindle Keyboard 3G will continue to offer experimental web browsing over 3G or Wi-Fi.”

Conclusion:

The Kindle is my new favorite travel item! It helps me stay budget and connected; the two most important things I look for when I travel! The connectivity in addition to the fact that it lightens my pack by leaving my heavy travel guides and books at home is all I need to make it an essential travel item I won’t leave home without!

How do you plan to stay connected when you travel overseas?  Share in the comments!

Your Comments

15 Comments so far

  1. Hee hee…Dave showed his Kindle to me also at WDS (Dave…you really got around!) and I immediately came home and bought one. I also love reading on it and plan on testing out the tweeting and FBing from Jamaica next month!

    • Sherry says:

      Gillian – enjoy Jamaica! One thing to note – I had trouble getting onto Facebook on my Kindle. The site was too complicated for it to load correctly. Remember – the browser is really bare bones. However – with a little more research – there may be a way to do it. However I was able to get on Twitter, Yahoo, and gmail – these were the things I used the most.

    • Sherry says:

      Yes – it looks cool and a cheaper option to the ipad. However – note that the new touch Kindles do not allow you to browse anywhere on the web using the 3G – they turned that feature off on the new ones. Make sure you read this closely – Amazon explains that there is no 3G browsing
      Let me know if you get one and what you think!

  2. Erin says:

    We love our Kindle too, and the 3G is so useful. It can be a bit clunky to use but I find it works best with the mobile versions of Twitter and Hotmail and I just have them set up in my bookmarks. It’s amazing being able to check your email in the middle of nowhere for free!

  3. Ted K says:

    Gotta read that fine print. Thanks Sherry. Now off to Meet Plan Go!

    • Sherry says:

      Yeah! Enjoy!! Which one are you attending? Let me know what you think of the evening!

      • Ted K says:

        Went to the one in Orlando. The weather cooperated and there was a pretty good turnout. Good panelists too! Very friendly, informed and helpful. So that was the Meet. Now it’s time for the Plan…

  4. Amanda says:

    I had no idea the 3G was free anywhere you can access it in the world! I always wondered what people meant when they said they were able to get on the Internet on their Kindle when there was no wi-fi… now I know!

    I don’t generally travel with books anyway, but the idea of free 3G around the world certainly makes it more tempting! I’ll have to consider this for my Europe trip next summer. Certainly would have been helpful earlier this year in New Zealand, where I had a hell of a time finding wi-fi connections to update Twitter!

  5. Melvin says:

    I’ve read about 3G, but always thought that it would still cost extra. Hard to believe that it doesn’t, right? :)

    But nice to hear that is really is inclusive. Last night I just checked for the new Kindle Fire & I really like that one! But as you said, it doesn’t have 3G. Mmmhhh… Now I really don’t know which to go for. I would really prefer the Fire, but without 3G?

    I’ll wait a bit longer I guess. :)

  6. I too carried a Kindle. Mostly for books as my Kindle does not have the 3G option. But I had a Mac laptop I used while away in Paris for a month to post photos and a 40-second blog post. The blog did two things: it made me see the trip through my own eyes, but also those of friends and family who were following me, and it gave me the beginning material for my book about turning 40 in Paris. This was the original blog: http://bonjour40.blogspot.com/

  7. Jeff says:

    Like everyone else, I love my Kindle, especially for reading books in Spanish. For anyone who is considering buying or already has a Kindle or other e-reader, check out my ultimate guide to electronic book readers (http://www.lengthytravel.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-electronic-book-readers-e-readers/) and also my post on using your Kindle to view travel maps (http://www.lengthytravel.com/using-your-kindle-or-digital-camera-to-view-travel-maps/)

  8. wftristan says:

    Hello,Hope you dont mind me posting this but thought i would let you know about our Travel Writing Competition
    Where we are giving away a kindle.

    here is the link

    myworldfirst

    many thanks

    Tristan

  9. Dave says:

    Hehehe … pleased I could help, Sherry (and Gillian!) :-)

    It really is an amazing piece of kit for the price…


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Sherry traveling the world

I'm Sherry, a corporate cube dweller turned nomadic traveler. I travel to off-the-beaten-path destinations to bring you unique travel experiences and photography. But it's not just about travel, it's also about life experiences of a middle age wanderer.
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Where am I and Where am I going?

British Columbia CA -> Ireland

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