Travel Internationally? Buy an Unlocked Phone.

Traveling internationally can be frustrating if you’re tied to a conventional carrier like AT&T or Verizon. The process of calling them up, waiting on hold, selecting and international plan, paying what equates to a second mortgage, arriving at your destination and still not being able to make calls is at its best extremely frustrating. The simple solution to this is to pick up an unlocked phone.

An unlocked cell phone is a device that is not tied to any specific carrier. This means that you can get a sim card from any corner store or airport and have it function in your device. This can be extremely useful and is also a much cheaper alternative to international plans with the typical carriers.

When typically talking about unlocked phones the first thing that comes to mind is a high price tag. Unfortunately, this isn’t inaccurate but there are ways around it. Personally I’ve been using a Google Nexus 5X for the past year and half and have loved it. I picked up from the Google Play Store for $399 and have used it across several different countries. Google’s newest phone, the Pixel is substantially more expensive with a starting price of $649 for a base, unlocked model. If you’re working on more of a budget or don’t need your everyday device to be unlocked, used phones and cheap unlocked phones are a great alternative.

A two-minute search on Amazon produces a myriad of cheap unlocked devices. The BLU R1 HD is a 16gb phone running Android is costs a whopping $59.99 if you have Amazon Prime. Many of these cheaper phones have thousands of positive reviews so don’t let the cheap price scare you away. With a $59.99 buy in for the phone and a $30 sim card, you can have a phone with access to the internet and maps for under $100.

If you’re looking for a higher end option or for an unlocked phone to use every day, some really nice phones can be picked up second hand on eBay. An unlocked 64GB iPhone 6S goes for ~$350 and an unlocked 32GB Galaxy S7 is roughly the same price.

Airbnb – Hotels Get Redundant

One of the top reasons people choose the consulting lifestyle is for the travel. In fact, one of my colleagues ended up working for our company by simply typing “jobs that travel” into Google. However, one of the disadvantages to traveling for work is living out of a hotel room. Sure the points are good but how many single serving soaps can you deal with over the course of a year?

Enter Airbnb for Business. Airbnb has now extended their offerings to accommodate business travelers. If you’re tired of the same old hotel spaces try renting out someone’s apartment, room or house. It may be a little farther from the client site, but if you’re in this for the experiences than it is a great chance to see how people live in your assigned city. Moreover, you can find some really cool places to stay and find yourself in a more relaxed, homey environment.

Airbnb for Business now links to your company’s expense software, provides itinerary updates and guarantees that each listing is outfitted with internet, a work space and other amenities so that you can stay productive even in an interesting location. I’ve also found that staying in the same locations over time builds a relationship with the Airbnb host and they can be more flexible and accommodate more unique requirements. Not to mention, an Airbnb can be substantially cheaper than equivalent hotel stays. This is a great negotiating point if you have to go through a different department when booking or seeking reimbursements.

Given the choice, I’d check out a downtown apartment over last week’s Marriott, anytime.