A Guide to Staying Connected While Traveling in the Middle East
The Middle East is home to many of the world’s loveliest wonders, both natural and man-made. It definitely is no surprise that in 2018, the UN World Tourism Organization Barometer showed that the MENA region experienced a significant increase in tourist arrivals. People from across the globe and from different countries in the region are exploring the home of the earliest civilizations in history.
Indeed, to a lot of people, traveling around the Middle East is a life experience worth having. Thankfully, there is an abundance of affordable travel packages to the region. Additionally, those who want to explore the different countries of the Middle East without joining a travel group can do so easily with the help of their smartphone.
And speaking of smartphones, these are the most useful devices to have with you when traveling around the region. A smartphone will keep you connected to the digital realm where practically all the information you need for travel is just a tap on the phone away.
However, to stay connected while traveling in the Middle East, you must know the following important dos and don’ts.
1. Do purchase a phone tote.
Although hand phone theft is not as prevalent in the Middle East as in other parts of the world, there was a time when this was considered big news in Saudi Arabia. Therefore, it is still better to be safe than sorry especially given how vital a smartphone is in organizing your travel plans.
A phone holder such as a pouch attached to a lanyard that you can hang from your neck is always a good idea. This simple accessory will make sure that your smartphone is always on your person and you are not forgetting about it and accidentally leaving it somewhere random after use. Keep your communication device on you at all times.
2. Do use a good international phone plan.
A lot of travelers make the mistake of relying solely on public Wi-Fi. But this will not do, especially if you intend to visit places that are off the beaten path, which often do not have this important service.
Get yourself a phone plan that will provide you with diverse ways to connect anywhere you go (through roaming, hot spots etc). This way, if you ever find yourself lost and with no Internet connection, you will still be able to make calls or connect to Facebook, for instance, without the Internet and seek help.
3. Do research for locally available travel-related apps.
For example, in Dubai, you can stay in the know about traffic conditions, the best routes to take, and paid parking locations even if you do not go online. Just download the Smart Drive app by the city’s Roads and Transport Authority to your smartphone. This app is especially helpful if you will be driving a car to explore the emirate.
So, take the time to research locally produced apps that are designed to make travel so much easier for you.
4. Do bring a power bank and an extra battery.
Visiting popular tourist attractions can have you on the road for several hours. For instance, the trip from the capital city of Amman to Petra, Jordan can take three to four hours. Although there may be nice sights to see during the trip, you may find yourself wanting to connect to while away the travel time.
The last thing you want when you get to the stunning Al Khazneh is a battery that is ready to die on you. How will you take pictures of this well-preserved archaeological site? Or video-call friends to prove that you have made it to this important destination? So, to stay connected, have a power bank and an extra fully charged battery for your phone ready.
5. Don’t forget to tell important people about your itinerary.
Give the people who matter to you the peace of mind of knowing where you are and your activities for the day. Perhaps, provide the same information to the hotel you are staying at as well.
By doing so, should there be any delay or unfortunate incident, there will be people who will notice that you have not yet called or returned at the time you said you will. They can take appropriate action to aid you in case you are lost or stranded somewhere.
6. Don’t forget to use the privacy settings of your phone.
Free public Wi-Fi is great because it benefits everybody. However, because it is public, there’s always a high likelihood that you are sharing this digital connection with people who are up to no good and are after your personal information.
Do not provide such people access to your personal data by turning on the different privacy settings of your phone and using a virtual private network (or VPN) app. The app will conceal your phone information when using a public network and it will block phishers.
So, do not fail to turn on the privacy settings and features of your phone. You can stay connected without revealing valuable information about you to dangerous entities in a public network.
Enjoy Stress-Free Travel
Your smartphone is your lifeline when traveling. Therefore, observe these dos and don’ts when going around exploring the gorgeous Middle Eastern region, and other international destinations as well.
About The Author: Al-moottil P Antony is a C-Suite Executive Support Professional for Zain, a leading mobile and data services operator with a commercial footprint in 8 Middle Eastern and African countries.