Tips for preparing your phone before an international trip

In the past we at GaramChai.com reviewed phone calling plans, and Voice over Internet (VOIP) services. An increasing number of Americans continue to travel across the globe for business and to visit foreign lands.

HQ-Foreground-Images-International-Calling[1]

The Wired magazine has an interesting feature that highlights ways “to prep your phone for International travel” 

The Wired article assumes that you have a smartphone at your disposal. Given the fact that smartphones are cheap – many startups are selling smartphones for undeer $100 – this is perhaps a valid assumption.

The tips are timely and easy to follow:

Level 1: Go Wi-Fi Only – Good news: You can go “off the grid” and still update your feeds by using your phone in Wi-Fi mode. Just toggle off cellular data or leave your phone in airplane mode from the moment you board the plane.  This is a very practical tip for a couple of reasons

  1. Wi-Fi has become commonplace and pervasive across the globe. When you travel to any major metro across the world you are bound to find cheap or Free wi-fi service at hotels, restaurants, malls and offices.
  2. Thanks to services like Whatsup and other VOIP chat software, high-speed Wifi can be used to for voice calling and you don’t need a data and voice plan during the trip!

Level 2: Take Your American Plan Abroad – “If you need better connectivity to, say, hail a Lyft from the Acropolis, simply add a global package to your current service. It’s shockingly easy. For example, AT&T offers a service called Passport, which gets you 200 MB of data and unlimited texting in more than 200 countries for just $40 tacked onto your current monthly plan. (Calls abroad still cost a buck a minute, so talk quickly.) Verizon offers a similar service, Travel Pass, that costs $5 a day to extend your plan to Mexico and Canada and $10 per day for service in more than 100 other countries.

Tip: One thing to keep in mind with a plan that you can easily run out of bandwidth or data plans while traveling. Use this service with caution; or be willing to shell out the big bucks.

Level 3: Talk Like the Locals: Flexing that unlimited vacation policy and staying abroad for more than a week or two? Consider replacing your SIM card and using a local service provider. First, make sure your phone is unlocked. You can do this by swapping your SIM card for another one and confirming that your phone still works, or simply calling your service provider. The FCC requires that providers unlock all devices so you can use them on any network, so simply ask your provider for an unlock code.

Power Up: Luckily, almost all smartphones will work plugged into outlets between 100 volts and 240 volts, so you probably don’t need a voltage converter to charge your phone. However, you will need a phone adapter plug.

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Book Review: Transit Lounge

Here we present a review of new book ‘Transit Lounge’ by Sunil Mishra.

Transit Lounge by [Mishra, Sunil ] Transit Lounge is a contemporary book consisting of short incidents, observations and reflections while travelling to 30 countries across six different continents during the last 15 years.

The book is a personal account of travels to places in Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and Mauritius), South America (Venezuela and Argentina), Asia (China, Iran, Kuwait, UAE, Singapore, Indonesia, Sri Lanka,Malaysia and Thailand), Europe (UK, France, Italy,Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Georgia,Turkey, Croatia and Romania), USA, Australia and New Zealand.

It was interesting to observe all these different cultures and people from an Indian perspective. The book is a compilation of small incidents and events during such travels; it includes losing an air ticket, dealing with difficult custom officials or getting mugged in a prime location in a foreign country.”

Review by our Editor on Amazon:  “An entertaining and readable travelogue”

An adage – join the navy and see the world – applies in equal measure to this generation of Indian IT professionals who have gone global. Sunil Mishra has leveraged such an opportunity to capture the essence of his travels in the newly published book in which he collates his observations of cultures and people from a distinctly Indian perspective.

The fast-paced narrative is sprinkled with anecdotes and humor that seamlessly ties together his views into a readable book. He shrugs at incidents where he had to bribe customs officials and security guards, turning to humor; perhaps reflecting on his Indian background where such incidents are par for the course. In his narrative, the author also attempts to review the geopolitical and economic aspects of the countries he visited.

Sunil makes a point of ‘cookie cutter’ customer service he experiences at hotels and airlines, a fact that intrigues the frequent traveler in me. With all the choices of airlines, he continues to patronize Indian national carrier, Air India, more than a few times while observing its ‘declining ranking.’ Equally intriguing is the fact that Sunil, the frequent-traveler didn’t get to an ‘elite’ status with his preferred airline or hotel, which would have afforded him the “personal touch” he yearns for. (Perhaps add those tips to the next edition of the book?)

Bottomline: Transit Lounge is a nice, entertaining and readable travelogue.

[Review from a complimentary copy of the book received from the publisher.]

Traveling During Recovery

A few weeks ago, we blogged about Medical and Dental tourism to India (link). Here is a follow-up guest post on a similar topic referred by Jennifer Scott  from Spirit Finder.

Traveling during the recovery process can be difficult on many levels; while part of you wants to relax and have fun, another part of you may be struggling with the temptation of substances in a foreign environment, either because they’re readily available or because being away from home is causing anxiety or homesickness. It’s important to plan well before your trip even begins to make sure you won’t have any problems. Some things to think about include:

  • Are you prepared to handle an emergency?
  • Do you have a sponsor standing by you can contact?
  • Will you be able to exit any given environment easily?
  • Are there meetings or resources available to you?

Do Some Research

It’s imperative that you do some research before your trip to find out if there will be meetings nearby that you can attend if you start to feel you need one. If there aren’t any, consider looking online for a support group that can help you get through a tough situation.

You’ll also need to check out the area you’ll be visiting; if you’re staying at a resort, for instance, make sure it’s not all-inclusive. Many of these vacation destinations offer an open bar for the duration of a guest’s stay, which can be temptation you definitely don’t need.

Come Prepared

There are lots of things to think about when you’re packing, especially if there are certain items you need daily to keep you in the right frame of mind. Comfort items, such as a favorite scarf or piece of jewelry, should be tucked safely away in your carry-on luggage. It’s also a good idea to bring any recovery literature that interests you in case you need a pick-me-up during the trip.

If it’s difficult for you to sleep in a strange place, bring some items that will help you relax, such as a favorite blanket or pillow. Don’t allow yourself to become overly tired, hungry, or bored while you’re away, as these feelings can push you toward wanting a substance. Keep snacks handy, especially if you’re going out for the day, and take naps if you feel you aren’t getting good sleep at night. It’s also important to prepare for any emergencies that could occur.

Plan Well

It’s a good idea to plan out the trip as much as possible and have backup plans, as well. Leaving a trip of several days to chance is dangerous for your recovery, so look online for activities, places to visit, and destinations that you can walk to from your hotel. Look up price ranges for these places and check reviews to make sure they’re worth your time (especially if you’re in a very touristy area).

Stay Connected

Most people who go on vacation want to get away and disconnect from the world for a while, but for individuals in recovery, this can be a bad thing. Stay connected, especially to your sponsor or a trusted friend who can help you get through hard times, and let them know where you’ll be in order to maintain a sense of responsibility for your actions. However, it’s a good idea to stay away from “checking in” online to places you visit while on vacation, as this could become a safety issue. Keep your social media settings private to ensure that only friends and family can see your posts.

Start Your Adventure

Remember that recovery is a lifelong road, and when you’re in the early stages, it can seem like an uphill climb that you’re not strong enough to make. Find your strength and challenge yourself to push through any fear or anxiety you may have; you might decide on vacation to try something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the courage or access to, such as rock climbing or snorkeling. As long as it’s a healthy endeavor–and you follow all the safety precautions–this can be an excellent opportunity for you to learn and grow in a positive way.

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Medical and Dental Tourism to India

Indians, NRIs and tourists from around the world are beginning to realize the potential of modern and traditional Indian medicine. Indian hospitals and medical establishments have also realized the potential of this niche market and have begun to tailor their services for foreign visitors. GaramChai.com has an extensive listing of Medical Tourism providers.

In this blog we feature Dental Tourism at Dr. Krinita Motwani’s Multi-speciality Dental Clinic.

DentalTourism

Dental tourism in India has become very popular over the last decade. Patients from world over are visiting the subcontinent to avail various dental treatments. The exotic locations and quality health care facilities make India an ideal choice for “Dental Tourism”. Dental clinics easily create a package for you that involve both your treatment plan and your vacation.

At Dr. Krinita Motwani’s Dental Clinic we understand all your needs and ensure that you leave the country with not just a beautiful set of teeth but also happy memories. You can communicate with us through email. We encourage Patients to share pictures and x-rays. This gives us a chance to plan the treatment in detail and give a more precise estimate of treatment time/visits as well as cost structure.

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This state of the art dental studio has a unique combination of a relaxing ambience along with use of cutting edge equipment and internationally acclaimed dental materials. The atmosphere is unlike regular expected dental clinics. We follow excellent protocol for infection control and hygiene and are associated with the best laboratories in the country. We are extremely proud of our pleasant, friendly and well trained staff going out of the way to make patients feel at home and deliver personalized dental care ranging from simple prophylaxis to a complete smile make-over!!

The dental clinic is spacious, tastefully decorated with everything passionately handpicked by Dr. Krinita. A great deal of effort has been put in combining artistic value with high end technology.

Well equipped with cutting edge armamentarium:

  • Automated dental chairs imported and assembled in Germany -for optimum comfort and efficiency
  • RVG: digital dental x ray software- less time consuming and reduced exposure to radiations
  • Autoclave for sterilization with the latest technology in an isolated area
  • Disposable products to maintain high levels of patient hygiene
  • Top of the line instruments and dental materials – only best in the world.

The wide range of services offered at the Dental Clinic include:

  • Dental Implants
  • Cosmetic Dentistry
  • Dental Veneers
  • Single sitting Root canal treatment
  • Surgical extraction
  • Tooth Coloured Restorations
  • Invisible braces
  • Smile design
  • Paediatric dentistry
  • Dental crowns
  • Tooth whitening
  • Tooth Jewellery

You can get more detailed information on their website. 

 

When everything is available in the USA, why do people carry so much stuff from India?

This was an interesting question that came from an online forum.

Indeed, US is the land of plenty and almost everything is available in the US. Indian Grocery shops – check out our extensive listing – can be found in almost every city and metro in the US. They stock a wide array of ethnic food, utensils, cookers and trinkets. Indians still prefer to carry suit-case full of ‘stuff’ while traveling to the US. A few weeks ago, we responded to a similar question “Where do I buy Indian mangoes in the USA?”

Here are a few practical reasons why Indians might ‘stuff’ their baggage while traveling to the US.

  1. Food-stuff and dry-grocery – to be used during the initial few days after they land. Many Indian visitors are used to home-cooked food and might plan to cook a dinner/lunch at an extended-stay hotel or at an apartment. [Why don’t they just drive to an Indian store for grocery stuff? Because it may not be possible to drive down during the first few days. ]
  2. Clothing – Indian ethnic wear, like Indian Sarees, Chudidhar (for women) and Kurtas (for men) sell at a steep premium. It is practical to carry sufficient number of these. Indian clothing can be heavy, adding to the baggage!
  3. Trinkets, Curios, handicrafts – ‘what did you get for me?’ is a typical question colleagues, friends and neighbors might ask. Indians returning back to the US generally carry a bagful of typical curios for others and some for themselves
  4. Mom’s pickles – Pickles, papads, ‘homemade’ masalas and savories are perennial favorites even though US customs officers have been known to randomly pick and discard some of these
  5. Indian Utensils – Some folks carry Indian utensils, cookers, mixers and even wet-grinders. Such stuff can be expensive in the US.

Requests from family and friends. Family and friends in the US are sure to make requests from 1, 2, 3 which returning-Indians might be obliged to bring back.

Over 30,000 Indians overstayed in U.S. in 2016: US Government

This week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Entry/Exit Overstay Report. 

Last week we heard of a “58-Year-Old Indian Man Detained At Atlanta Airport By US Immigration” who died in custody. The question of illegal and overstay of visas is extremely nebulous. The other question still remains unanswered: In an age of additional scrutiny by Trump government, Indians and others still have an urge to overstay the duration of their approved visas.

One of the tables from the report highlighting overstays.

DHSOverstay

A few facts about Indians highlighted in the report:

  • Of the 30,000, a little over 6,000 Indian nationals left the U.S. after the expiry of their visas, the report said.
  • In 2016, more than one million Indians who came to the U.S. on business, tourist or pleasure were expected to leave the country. Of these, 17,763 have overstayed in the country, it said.
  • Among the overstayed are 2,040 Indians who departed the U.S. only after the expiry of their visas.
  • This year’s report also includes visitors who entered on a student or exchange visitor visa (F, M, or J visa). Of the 1,457,556 students and exchange visitors scheduled to complete their program in the United States in FY16, 79,818 stayed beyond their authorized window for departure, resulting in a 5.48 percent overstay rate. Of the 79,818, 40,949 are suspected in-country overstays (2.81 percent).
  • In 2016, as many as 9,897 Indian students or exchange scholars were expected to depart by the end of the year and of which, 4,575 overstayed their legal period.
  • 1,561 Indian students and exchange visitors left the country after their visas expired, while 3,014 of them have overstayed in the country, the report said.

Copy of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Entry/Exit Overstay Report.

The findings of the report were highlighted extensively in the Indian media