It took me two years of searching through plans and patiently waiting for the right plan, right coverage, and right phone to come together. I made one slight misstep along the way with a Trac Phone. While they do have some decent phones, I for one won’t pay $500 for a PHONE no matter what it does. That is too much money to risk on something in my pocket every day. Phones tend to jump out of your hand to commit suicide on rocks, in any nearby water, etc. I bought one of their cheaper “sort of smart” LG phones only to find there aren’t any apps available for it in an app store though you can find a few java apps here and there to manually add to the phone. The plan cost was very cheap which I liked and it did allow me to browse the web in stores to research items, browse the web when I needed to find some place, and send email and texts for work. Don’t get me wrong. I do like the phone and the browsing but I wanted the apps too. If you don’t need apps, Trac Phone has great coverage on Verizon or AT&T depending on the model and it is very inexpensive with easy top up online or excellent automatic monthly top up. Mine also came with triple purchased minutes so that I had plenty of minutes for only $21 a month. Now that is what a phone plan ought to cost! The phone itself was only $99.
So why the need for apps? I’m a geocacher and there is an app for that so I can find geocaches anytime anywhere without having to load up my GPS with locations before I leave home. I travel a lot and need to be able to find campgrounds, overnight boondocking spots, and interesting places to visit on the go. I read only eBooks these days and don’t always have my Kindle with me but do always have my phone. I’m studying Spanish free through an online site and find it easier to study on my phone. I have friends and family I keep in touch with through social sites which have apps for that. I need to be able to find the cheapest gas in areas I am unfamiliar with. I have an app that turns my phone into a flashlight when needed. I can record any situations I get into for documentation or safety including a cop stop. There are many other things in my life that apps accommodate and then there is the fact I am working on an app of my own for one of my other websites and need to be able to test it.
My new phone is a Motorola Moto G true Android smartphone with Consumer Cellular. Consumer Cellular has always had good plans and very good coverage nearly everywhere I have traveled with a plain jane phone of theirs. Unfortunately, they haven’t had much in the way of smart phones until they recently added the Moto G to their line and it is awesome! Not only does it do browsing and all the apps I need, it also is a decent size for reading books, plays mp3s, has GPS, has decent battery life, plays games, the sound quality is very good, it supports Square for taking credit card payments, supports Bluetooth, takes decent pictures and has a flash, makes movies and automatically uploads them, does Wi-Fi, and it takes voice commands. WOW! That is a whole lot of functionality in a $150 phone. On top of that, it allows me to set a limit on data so it shuts down automatically and notifies me before I go over. I can bypass it if I choose to, usually after I change my plan to finish out that month. Rather than wait for the phone to be mailed to me, I went to the nearest Sears store to pick it up then called Consumer Cellular to activate it. If you have a phone already which uses a sim card, you can just buy a new sim card from them to use their service.
Consumer Cellular plans also shine. First, there is no commitment. You pay them a $25 activation fee and that is the end of your commitment. No flipping 2 years to worry about. While you must choose your initial plans, you are allowed to change them up and down at any time before the month ends to save money and they send you notices when you use 80% and 100% so you can change your plan rather than incur overage charges. Their talk minutes plans are separate from their data and text plans so you can signup for exactly what you need and change them separately as needed. It’s not as cheap as Trac Phone but it is still much cheaper than the other big name companies. I’m paying between $50-$60 a month depending on how much I talk or use data. They also let you share with other family members for only $10 per additional line. To make the deal even sweeter, I gave them my AARP number which gets me a nice little discount every month.
I think having a smart phone along when traveling can be very helpful for RVers. There are many RVer and tourist specific apps as well as common apps we would use. Most apps are either free or less than$10. You can scan your multiple grocery reward cards with an app to use instead of the bulky cards. You can get coupon codes delivered to your phone. You can reserve a Red Box movie with it and save on rentals with special codes texted to you. You can shop online or get more info in box stores on products by scanning QR codes with it. You can reserve a campsite over the Internet with your phone. If you get in an accident, your insurance company app can help you file a report and get help. A smart phone can save you money and save your arse in many situations and heck, it is a lot of fun. Just don’t get too caught up playing Angry Birds or Hay Day. Both games are very addictive.