One day, perhaps, Australia will have coast to coast mobile coverage. Well… perhaps not. Not any time soon, anyway. The lack of mobile coverage outside of our major cities and main regional centres presents a serious problem for caravanners.
As you’d know, there are a number of solutions. Satellite phones, which will work anywhere, are the common answer. But there are other ways to stay in touch with friends and family, or summon the cavalry in dire circumstances, when in remote areas.
Regular readers might know that we’ve become fans of the ZOLEO Global Satellite Communicator. There are a few reasons for this. First, it allows you to send a very quick ‘Check-In/I’m Okay’ message from anywhere in the world to one of your ZOLEO contacts. It also lets them pinpoint your exact location through the maps on their smartphone.
Second, we like the ability to send and receive SMS-style messages to your ZOLEO contacts as well as anyone who does not use the free app. Again, you can do this from anywhere in the world, regardless of mobile coverage.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, it’s the ability to alert emergency services, either by pushing a button in the ZOLEO app or the button on the device itself, that appeals to me. (The ‘tick’ button on the device is the quick check-in function that lets your contacts know you’re okay.)
However, there is a new feature offered by the ZOLEO device and app: Location Share+. This feature enables users to automatically share their location with their check-in contacts. The traveller can set the interval that their contacts receive the update, from every six minutes to every four hours. Essentially, it’s like leaving a breadcrumb trail on a map.
Now, there is a subscription fee involved to use the ZOLEO Global Satellite and the Location Share+ feature is an add-on that costs a few dollars more; however, for the peace of mind it provides your loved ones back home, it seems worth it. I have certainly subscribed to this feature and have no regrets.
Additionally, if a member of your travelling tribe decides to go on a hike away from the van by themselves, they could take the ZOLEO with them and you, back at the van, will be able to see clearly where they are – especially useful if you’re concerned about them but are not yet certain that it’s an emergency that warrants pushing the SOS button.
Each device has its own number and email address that your contacts can reach you on via text message, though voice or video messages can’t be sent or received. The ZOLEO uses the Iridium satellite network, which means it’ll effectively turn your smartphone into a text-messaging satphone whether you’re in Siberia or Cameron’s Corner. Well worth it.
More information: www.zoleo.com