We're off to South America in July for six months and I am now busy sorting everything out to get ready for this.
Next on my 'hitlist' is the mobile phone.
Anyone got advice on this? My gut thought is to switch my phone to PAYG and then ust leave it at home.
However, someone else has said that it would be a good idea to take the phone, once it's been made PAYG, in case of emergencies.
What do people think? Is it just going to be another thing to get stolen? How often do people travelling use them and is it expensive to use them in South America?
Can I just take the handset and buy a local PAYG SIM?
Your best bet is to get the phone checked out to see if it's compatible with other sim cards. If it's not, then it costs very little to have it opened. Most phones nowadays are able to be used with overseas simcards. The only thing you might find, is that when you come home - as is often the case, the simcard might not work in your own country. Not that you'd want it to anyway. Pop into a local phone shop and ask them the useage availability on your phone - and if it doesn't work with other sims, check the difference in price between getting yours made compatible - and a S/H phone that already does. Most new Samsung phones can be used with any simcard, in any country.
I have so many overseas simcards - and it saves a fortune on costs. Many are free now - and come with a few minutes of free credit/call time/texts/internet, once activated.
I usually travel with one (if it gets stolen then travel insurance will cover it). I tend to leave it turned off most of the time, but it is a great way to send/receive quick text messages and very usefully if you are meeting up with others along the way.
One more thing to worry about, IMO. I try to minimize tha number of valuables I have to keep track of. And I don't want to pay roaming charges with a chip from one city/area (of Brazil, in my case). I buy local phone cards for local calls. In tourist areas, there are always enough places (some internet cafes, and such ) to make cheap international calls.