Say goodbye to hefty monthly contracts and global roaming fees with a $199 Apple iPod Touch.

When my husband and I made the decision to put our life in New Mexico on hold and set off for an extended romp through Latin America, it wasn’t where we’d live, how we’d get there, or even what we’d take that worried me. The Internet, vacation rentals, hotels, airplanes, and local shops offered easy solutions to those problems.

What did present a challenge, however, was a question on the minds of many Americans traveling abroad: How can I avoid the global roaming fees of my U.S. based mobile phone provider and still stay connected?

Nearly eighteen months into the adventure, we’ve said goodbye to hefty monthly contracts and global roaming fees, in large part thanks to the simple convenience of a $199 Apple iPod Touch.

Basically an iPhone without a monthly contract, the iPod Touch is proving to be an essential pocket-sized travel tool and budget-friendly communications alternative. 

Here are 3 key ways I use the iPod Touch in lieu of a global smartphone.

  1. APPLE APPS*: Just like the iPhone, an iPod Touch provides entrée to the full range of Apple’s 500,000 apps, including more than 7,000 created for travelers. That means that along with access to text messaging, online banking, language translation, weather updates, e-books, music and movies, I can also research and book trips, access e-mail, keep in touch on Facebook and twitter, and make and receive calls (see item 2). 
  1. MOBILE CALLING*: Both Google Voice and Skype offer convenient low cost mobile calling options. Google voice gives you a free phone number which I use primarily as a way to send and recieve free text messages on my iPod. With Skype, I get free Skype to Skype calls, individual and group video chat, and inexpensive calls to landlines and mobiles. 
  1. LIVE SHARING*: With a built-in HD video camera perfect for making video calls or documenting and sharing your adventures live and in person, the iPod Touch has become my in-the-moment camera of choice, enabling me to shoot, process, and share directly to social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube. Thanks to an ever-evolving selection of innovative photo applications, my creative spontaneity, visual experimentation, and social connection has gone viral.

*Wi-Fi required.

The iPod Touch and iPod Accessories are available for purchase at APPLE.COM or from authorized Apple retailers, including the TRAVEL STORE AT ELLENBARONE.COM powered by Amazon. Suggested retail starting price, $199.

How do you communicate from the road? I welcome your advice or questions in the comment box below.

Photos by Apple.

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".