Aussie Bloggers headed to NYC for BlogHer12, these posts are for you… Part one: Staying connected without spending a fortune!

The last time I headed to New York for BlogHer, I was speaking. The excitement was (almost) enough to get me through the jetlag (the coffee and shopping helped a bit too.) I must say that I did feel quite alone in my foggy head, wandering around in a completely different time zone from most everyone else. People were shocked that I had come all the way from Australia, but I consider myself a blogger of dual nationality so it was really just going home. I mean, the worldwide aspect of connection is one of the things I love most about blogging! I skipped last year, but am headed back to BlogHer in just a few weeks! Happily, this year there seems to be a large number of Aussies winging their way there. Since this is something I have done before, I thought I might put together a few blog posts with tips on what worked for me. Let’s start with the most important thing (for me)…staying connected. Those calls, texts and Instagrams will cost you if you do not make plans to get a US based SIM card and data plan.

Now I am on Android, but this should apply to iPhone as well. The main thing is that your phone has to be “unlocked” to do anything here. Telstra does not lock their phones to their network by default, so if that is your carrier in Australia, you should be good to go. Other providers will (should) give you the code to unlock your phone if you ask.

On arriving in USA (NYC is my first stop on this journey) you go into an AT&T store and get a plan off the following  AT&T PrePaid Plans.

 I will get the $25 monthly plan (which includes 250 minutes) and add a data pack for 1gb @$25.  So all up it will be $50 US. That is just about what one Instagram photo upload of your brand new $15 mani/pedi would cost you on roaming data.   You also get a SIM card (for my awesome HTC ONE XL phone it needs to be a mircoSIM) in the store, they activate it and make sure your phone works and you walk out with a working US phone.
The only other provider of GSM in the USA is T-Mobile but Australians be warned.  T-mobile uses GSM radio frequencies/bands which are specific to the USA ( called AWS on 1700 and 2100 MHz) which most Australian/Asian/European phones don’t support.  So one either needs to check that your phone supports these bands or avoid T-mobile.
If you are not planning to get a new SIM, the conference should have WiFi and I found that Starbucks were everywhere (for example, literally in the hotel AND on the opposite corner of the same streets) and had free WiFi for emergencies. I was hardly ever far from a Starbucks. And as an American, sorry Aussies, but that made me VERY happy. If you are on an iDevice, Skype also has an app and hotspots where you can pay for internet access with your Skype credit.
I have a few more ideas for posts, like the all important WHERE TO SHOP (and where to get that aforementioned $15 MANI/PEDI) etc, so stay tuned!
If you are headed to BlogHer from Australia, please leave a link in the comments so we can all get to know each other ahead of time. It is a huge convention and it is always nice to see familiar faces.
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  • Katie - Ho-hum….this would be so very very useful if I was in fact going to BlogHer. Why am I not going to BloghHer? COS I’M AN IDIOT!!! Gah!
    Have fun…Instagram often. I’ll try to live vicariously through your awesomeness.July 9, 2012 – 5:38 pmReplyCancel

  • Jasmin - Fabulous! Thanks for this post Rachel and I’m looking forward to the rest of your NYC tips. This will be my first EVER trip to the US and I’m looking forward to five days of exploring the city before attending BlogHer. So. Much. Fun!July 9, 2012 – 5:42 pmReplyCancel

  • Nikki @ Styling You - Awesome post Rach – I was tossing up on whether to get a prepaid sim or just stick with wi-fi – you’ve just helped me work it out! See you in NYC!July 9, 2012 – 6:18 pmReplyCancel

  • Karen (miscmum) - This will be my first trip to mainland US since I was 12 – needless to say, technology has advanced! I’m taking copious notes! Thanks!!July 9, 2012 – 7:36 pmReplyCancel

    • Christina @ Hair Romance - Me too Karen! I think I’m even more excited about this trip than I was as a 12 yoJuly 12, 2012 – 10:12 pmReplyCancel

  • A-M - Thank you for this fabulous info!… so generous of you. I am heading to BlogHer as well. I started following you after your great presentation at Blogopolis. I am printing out that map! I am heading up to the Hampton’s before the conference and then have a week after the conference to explore. Beyond exciting! A-M xxJuly 9, 2012 – 7:58 pmReplyCancel

  • Katrina from The Block - Thank you!!! I had no idea what to do with my phone!!July 10, 2012 – 7:51 amReplyCancel

  • nellbe - Hi Rachel, great tips, thank you! I am doing the sim thing a little differently but my hotel has free wifi which I will use. As a tidbit for others, in Aus I am on 3/Vodafone and they have a thing online where you can unlock your phone yourself, or you can tweet them and they’ll point you in the right direction.

    Oh and I am going to BlogHer and it is also my first trip to America!July 10, 2012 – 8:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Oh baby see you in the Big Apple on manual yeah? ;))July 11, 2012 – 10:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Tatum - awesome advice! I have my tips post half written from what I learnt when we were in the US last year, including a week in NYC. Hubby spent ages researching the prepaid sim stuff and we had Tmobile…he knows where the closest place is to our first hotel in SoHo! Looking forwards to reading more posts and meeting you over there. Tatum xxJuly 12, 2012 – 9:46 pmReplyCancel

  • Christina @ Hair Romance - Thanks for the tips Rachel! Hope to see you in NYC too xJuly 12, 2012 – 10:13 pmReplyCancel

  • Bree - This is fabulous! I’ll be heading to AT&T the second I hit USA soil 🙂July 14, 2012 – 5:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Alissa - I just bumped into you on ig, loved your feed, jumped on your blog and your coming to NYC! Are you teaching at blogher or another spot? Where, when, how much and are there any spots open?? I wasn’t planning on attending blogher, but I do live upstate just awayze. If I can score a sitter, I’d like to meet you.

    I’m aliclick on ig

    Thank you,
    AlissaJuly 17, 2012 – 3:05 pmReplyCancel

    • sesame - Hi Alissa,
      I will be in NYC and while I am not speaking at BlogHer this year, there are some other things planned…Stay Tuned!!!! I am also offering mentoring and shoots, but I am almost booked out!July 18, 2012 – 11:26 amReplyCancel

  • Kat - The Organised Housewife - Thank you so much I’ve been worried what to do with my phone. I look forward to seeing you all there!July 18, 2012 – 9:52 amReplyCancel

  • Laney @ Crash Test Mummy - AT&T will we wondering at the influx of Aussies ;). If anyone is with Optus it’s just an easy phone call to them to unlock your phone. Then you just sync with iTunes and restore factory settings.July 19, 2012 – 2:28 pmReplyCancel

  • Katrina from The Block - We have Telstra phones and I still had to unlock them 🙂July 20, 2012 – 5:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Jasmin - Thanks for all for all of this Rachel. I checked with Telstra also and had to ring 1800 IPHONE to get mine unlocked. It takes between 5 and 72 hours. Can’t wait to see you there and congrats on the speaking gig – looks fabulous!July 23, 2012 – 9:46 amReplyCancel

    • sesame - I think it is an iPhone thing….our Androids are good to go!July 26, 2012 – 8:27 pmReplyCancel