Trabug: India’s First Travel Phone
Having access to the internet and being able to make calls while you travel is important for so many people – digital nomads, like me, who take work while traveling need to stay connected to keep their businesses going and all travellers want to share their travel experiences on Facebook and Instagram and keep updated with friends and family back home.
As a solo female traveller in India, I feel much safer and find it easier to travel around India with a phone. Google maps is really useful for navigating to a location or checking if the rickshaw driver is taking me the right way, (they are notorious for overcharging and never seem to know where they are going so I end up having to direct them most of the time)
If I have a phone I can call and book a taxi or book online through apps like Ola, I can go online or call ahead to make a hotel booking and call them to ask them to pick me up from the station, not to mention I can call friends and I can call for help if needed.
How to get online in India
It’s not easy being a digital nomad in India, outside the major cities wifi can be painfully slow, unreliable and intermittent, power cuts are frequent and many hotels and restaurants will advertise Wifi but a lot of the time it’s completely useless so I have to rely on 3G internet, in fact most of my work is done through my 3G hotspot as its often quicker and more reliable than wifi.
Roaming with a sim card from your home country is always going to be a crazily expensive affair, for me it’s £1.50 a minute just to receive a call on my UK sim card and I wouldn’t even like to image how expensive data roaming would be for several months at a time!
So it’s always better to get a local sim card when you can while traveling. In some countries it’s easy to simply pick up a sim card and get connected. However, in India, the process for getting a local sim card can be quite lengthy and frustrating – you’ll need photocopies of your passport and visa, photos, a local address and reference and it can still take a few days for the security checks to go through for the sim card to be activated, plus if your phone is not unlocked the local sim card won’t work. See here for my tips and the full process for getting an Indian sim card.
Introducing Trabug – the easiest way to get online anywhere in India
Luckily there is now an easier way for travellers to get connected in India and when I heard about Trabug I was keen to try it out.
Trabug is India’s first phone rental service especially for travellers. Trabug focuses on providing a hassle free service for travellers, they provide a smartphone ready to go with a local 4G enabled Indian sim card and a whole package of travel services designed to make traveling in India easier. Their smartphones come with all the most popular apps already installed as well as special localised recommendations on the best sights, activities and restaurants near you and more features designed to keep you safe handpicked by the Trabug team.
They have 3 different pricing plans starting from only $16.99. See more pricing and plan details on the Trabug website here. You can book upto 4 days before your arrival in India, give the team your details and the phone will be delivered to your hotel in India ready to go in time for your arrival.
This video probably explains it better than I can!
My Review of Trabug
I was intrigued to give Trabug a try as I feel it’s a service that will help lots of travellers in India. Ordering my Trabug phone through the website was easy, as I use a lot of data for blogging I choose the Power Plan which gives unlimited data (16GB highspeed data and then unlimited browsing at lower speeds), 300 calling minutes and free incoming calls, 150 text messages and 60 mins for international calls.
The cost was $69 for 14 days. There is also a $65 security deposit that is refunded when you return the phone. Also, Global Gallivanting readers can get either 50% extra domestic minutes for free by quoting the code GG50EXTRA OR 1GB of data for free by quoting the code GG1GBEXTRA.
Ordering my Trabug phone
After selecting the price plan and dates of hire I was sent an invoice to pay securely via Paypal. After the payment I needed to send over a scan of my passport, Indian visa, a photograph and my home address and father’s name as required by the Indian Government for issuing a sim card to foreigners in line with the Indian security regulations.
You need to do this a minimum of 4 days before as it takes time to process the documents for security. These documents are always needed to get a sim connection in India and the way Trabug does it is make it a lot easier than I have experienced before. A few days later I was sent an email confirming when I would receive the phone and confirming my new Indian mobile number as well as the security details to access the phone once it came.
The phone was delivered to my address in just a couple of days. The phone Trabug supplied was an Android LYF Wind Smartphone, I’m not sure if it was new but it was in great condition with no signs of wear and tear and everything worked great. The phone came in a nice Trabug box, complete with a handy starter guide, charger and a cute little gift bag that you can keep.
I have a Samsung Galaxy and found the Trabug phone really easy to use. Shortly after I turned the phone on I got a call from Trabug to check that everything was ok and there is a support button where you can call Trabug anytime.
At first I thought that I would have preferred to use my own smartphone and just rent the sim card but Trabug isn’t offering this service as the moment because there might be issues with compatibility, carrier locks or provider settings. But I found out that the Trabug service is much more than just a sim card.
The phone already comes preloaded with the most popular apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, Snapchat, YouTube, Skype Uber and Ola (great for getting cabs in India and much safer and less hassle than trying to get one on the street) IRCTC app (for booking trains) Google Maps and Google translate however I didn’t find Google PlayStore so couldn’t download any more apps which was a little limiting but most of what I needed was on the phone already anyway.
One of the best things is that the phone works great as a wifi hotspot, you can connect up to 5 devices to it so you can use your laptop, iPad, kindle or normal phone online easily through the hotspot. The phone also has a good battery life and a decent camera, both back facing and front facing ideal for selfies, however I found that the camera was not as good as the one of my phone so if you are a keen photographer you will probably want to take your phone or camera with you as well. You can Bluetooth your photos between phones, so you can take a photo on your own phone and send it via Bluetooth to the Trabug phone to post it online.
I really liked the extra services that Trabug have added onto the phone – with one touch I can access eating, shopping and sightseeing recommendations from the Trabug team in my location. There are also services like audio tours and you can order a cab and currency exchange delivery easily from the phone. There’s also a handy stay safe section with details of nearby hospitals, embassies and police.
The phone is set up to roam and work anywhere in India (where there is a signal of course there are still remote areas that have limited service but the network in India is improving all the time) It’s also easy to recharge/ top up more data or mins straight from the phone (usually you have to go to a shop to do this and it can be complicated if you have a Delhi sim card and try to top up in Goa as the plans are different) so it was great that with Trabug it was so easy to top up. It’s also really easy to keep track of how much data and mins you have used as you get a notification pop up on the phone after every call.
Trabug provides sims from the main 3 networks in India – Vodaphone, Idea and Airtel. Some networks work better than others depending on which state of India you are in. Trabug sent me an Airtel sim card which is known to have good coverage in North India but in Goa my Idea sim had better service than the Airtel one so tell Trabug where you plan on traveling so that they can give you the best sim for that area – FYI Idea is the best in Goa and Kerala.
Due to government regulations, plans can not be longer than 80 days but then if you are traveling in India for a long time it’s probably cheaper and worth the hassle of getting a local sim card yourself ,as long as your phone is unlocked and compatible, but then you don’t get the phone with all the handy recommendations and support from Trabug. If you’re only traveling in India for a few weeks then Trabug offers a much easier way to get online and takes the hassle out of getting connected leaving you free to enjoy your travels.
Once you’ve finished with the phone simply press the Checkout button on the phone and arrange for Trabug to collect the phone from your hotel. By pressing the checkout button the phone is secure and all the details will be wiped and the phone is reset ready for the next customer.
Overall, I found the Trabug service really straight forward and hassle free to use, the prices are very reasonable and I loved all the thoughtful extras that came on the phone. Having a phone definitely makes traveling in India feel safer and easier for me, I really couldn’t live without one now and you can’t rely on hotel wifi in India but with Trabug it’s super easy to get online while traveling in India.
You can see more reviews for Trabug on their Facebook page and check out www.trabug.com for more details and to book. Don’t forget that Global Gallivanting readers get can get either 50% extra domestic minutes for free by quoting the code GG50EXTRA OR 1GB of data for free by quoting the code GG1GBEXTRA.
Have you used Trabug? How was your experience?
Disclosure: I reached out to Trabug who provided their services complimentary to me in exchange for this review but all opinions are my own and I genuinely believe they are offering a unique and useful service for travellers in India that will make your trip so much easier and your travels run more smoothly.