Ulefoss, Norway: We take SO much for granted, until we leave home. Take communications, for example. Cell phones work, mostly. Internet connections are everywhere. Heck, in the U.S. you can even pick up an old-fashioned phone and dial anywhere in the world for song. On our Adobe Iceland Adventure, which begins in just three days, communication is critical, and if we are not prepared, it could spell disaster or at least contribute to a miserable time.
Our adventure involves 16 people, arriving in Iceland from all over North America and Europe. It also involves several local Iceland photographers and on-the-ground support. We will spread out over three locations using 6 rental cars provided by Hertz to get around. (BTW, Hertz is also providing horses. How’s that for a good marketing line: “Horses and Cars by Hertz”. Quick, trademark it!)
So how are we going to communicate? I’ve been to Iceland several times and never had good luck with my Cingular cell phone, or even my Norwegian Telenor mobile phone, which connects to the local service but tells me I can only make SOS calls only. One time, in the summer, I desperately needed to change a plane reservation but it was after 4 pm in Iceland and everything was closed. (When I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. During the summer months most Icelanders go on vacation and those who don’t get off as early in the day as possible.)
I did some fast thinking. If I could call the U.S. (EST), which is 4 hours back, I’d certainly find an operator that would help me. Only problem, the cost of a phone call from my hotel room was prohibitive. We are talking several dollars per minute… and knowing that I’d be on hold several minutes before even talking to an agent, made this not an option.
Instead, I hooked up my laptop, paid a few dollars for ½ hour internet connect time, and used Skype to make my call. It worked great, and only cost a few cents a minutes.
Last time I was in Iceland I got really smart and bought an Iceland SIM card for around $60. It easily replaced my U.S. SIM card and now I have my own local Iceland number. Hey, admit it, that’s cool!
Tip: Buy your SIM card at Duty Free when you arrive at Keflavik International airport. It’s cheaper. You can also get a heavily discounted calling card for “charging” your phone to make local or international calls. Just make sure your cell phone is GSM or Vodafone compatible and isn’t “locked”. If you don’t know, check with your carrier before you depart on your trip. And if you forget to get your SIM card at the airport, gas stations also carry them, albeit a bit more expensive. Yeah, gas stations… don’t ask me why.
BTW, Frommer’s has a good article on using a cell phone in Iceland.
As the adventure unfolds, I’ll let you know how things go… if I can get a line!