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Going on a Gap Year? You Might Want ChatSIM for Christmas


You’re travelling abroad, there’s no wifi, and you urgently need to send your bestie a picture of #MachuPicchu captioned “yolo, you know?” on Snapchat. Ordinarily, you’d have to buy a certain amount of data for an extortionate amount of money from a mobile network provider like AT&T. But wouldn’t it be great if there was a magical solution to your woes? Well, there isn’t quite yet. But you can now send as many text-only messages as you like over social media services like WhatsApp, Messenger and Line if you’re using ChatSIM, a nifty new Sim card which allows you to navigate around those pesky roaming charges. For only £12 per year. Yes. £12. Per. Year. So, what’s the catch?  

Somebody standing in your well-worn boots really has three options: keep your existing Sim card and pay the usual data roaming fees; get ChatSIM; or get a local Sim card which doesn’t carry the roaming charge. Each has its own pros and cons. There are some real drawbacks to ChatSIM. For one, it’s very limited: it doesn’t allow you to browse Facebook or anything like that. You can only send messages comprised of text. Moreover, it uses a bizarre “credits” system which has been the cause of a lot of confusion amongst customers. As Geoffrey Morrison wrote in a Forbes review, “You have no way of knowing if “2000 credits” is equal to 200 megabytes, 20, or 2.”  He claims it could be a sneaky means to cover-up the fact that you may be using more data than you realise, or even a means for ChatSIM to increase its rates under the radar – wielding its confusing payment methods like dazzle camouflage on HMS Extra Fees.

Boating analogies aside, it’s not like the service hasn’t got pro-points. Significant ones, in fact. If you’re looking for a cheap way to message home and communicate with parents, this is great. But are you really going to need this for a whole year? Let alone two or three? The whole point of this trek was to expand your mind and try new things, right? Surely if you want to contact your new friends in-country or folks back home you could just buy a local Sim card and save yourself the hassle. 

Well, yes and no. That would be a great idea if you already had a good understanding of the deals available overseas - which one’s best for you, which will actually give you data and let you get on social media, etc. And that’s not to mention the potential language barrier, as well as the fact that you might be travelling across multiple borders. ChatSIM at the very least allows you to avoid that hassle, and does give you a safe, dependable, Eurocentric means of getting around. If you want a reliable, rugged means of contacting home, ChatSIM is a good bet. And perhaps that’s why it’s the best option for gap yuh travel: it gives you a little bit of arm’s-length distance from your host country, you’re pretty much guaranteed an uninterrupted contact channel with your folks, and besides, it’s just easier – your phone is probably the least of your worries, and you’ve got a lot of map reading to do. It’s all great. As long as you don’t mind having to give the ChatSIM company a copy of your photo ID as a prerequisite for using the darned thing. Yikes, now that’s overprotective parenting! 



James has a Bachelor’s degree in History and wrote his dissertation on beef and protest. His heroes list ranges from Adele to Noam Chomsky: inspirations he’ll be invoking next year when he begins a Master’s degree in London. Follow him @Songbird_James


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Going on a Gap Year? You Might Want ChatSIM for Christmas Reviewed by James Darvill on Friday, December 16, 2016 Rating: 5

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