The visitor’s guide to traveling to a foreign country that’s pretty much the same as your own save for geography, politics and regional economy

Smartphones are great. They’re small, they’re portable and, most importantly, they’re connected to the internet. I know that I’ve gotten very attached to my iPhone ever since my first 3G.

These wonderful little gizmos have allowed me far more spontaneity. For instance, now I can indulge in all my weird impulses to travel down shoddy, blackened alleys in rundown neighborhoods without having to trust a random passerby to give me correct directions and not multiple fatal stab wounds.

On the other hand, I’m beginning to fear I might have grown too reliant on my phone. While this isn’t necessarily a problem most of the time, smartphones are, like almost everything except God and Ingmar Bergman, fallible.

Sometimes Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart decide to hold a great big fuck-off rally on the Mall and crash the city’s cell network.

Sometimes you hop the border into a country that’s pretty much exactly like your own except data roaming costs $15.36 a megabyte.

Sometimes your battery runs out.

Anyways, the point is fuck AT&T. Err, what I meant to say was so Canada. Thanks to the A (for Asshole) in AT&T, my iPhone is now effectively a pager. I can see incoming calls without getting dinged, but picking up or even checking voicemail is a buck a minute. And don’t even think about checking e-mail on 3G.

The good news is that you can work around this crippling hindrance! All you have to do is to put your phone down in the your hotel, interact with the real world/actual people and maybe actually enjoy your vacation.

Or, you can do what I do and go Wi-Fi hopping. It’s far easier in a big city, a la Toronto, than in a smaller one, like Kingston. Still, if wherever you are has a Starbucks, you’re pretty much set. Just freeze ramrod still outside of every Starbucks or wannabe-Starbucks you see while your phone loads up all those e-mails and Facebook messages you absolutely must attend to right this moment.

As for SMS or MMS, don’t.

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