OCONUS Travel Tech Hacks
Whether you’re living or just traveling OCONUS (overseas) some quick OCONUS travel tech hacks can make life a tiny bit easier!
Coming up on my one-year anniversary of living OCONUS again, these are some of my favorite OCONUS travel tech hacks that make my life a little more cushy over here, especially when I’m a little homesick.
Sometimes it’s just small creature comforts that give me joy. I want my son’s 90-year-old grandfather to be able to easily call us in Italy. I want to use my favorite flat iron, or catch up on GoT like the rest of America. These simple OCONUS travel tech hacks get me what I want in a pinch!
OCONUS Travel Teck Hack #1: I Want a US-Based IP Address
Virtual Private Network
This is one of my favorite OCONUS travel tech hacks. Free and public WiFi is all over Europe and Asia. You’ll use it at cafes, airports, event at the beach. Protect your privacy and identity when connected to a public WiFi with a virtual private network or VPN.
VPNs also have another important task in my opinion. By using the option to choose a United States-based server I can access websites that normally are blocked or limited outside of the States. When I’m logged in on US servers websites also pre-populate in English and use dollars for currency if I’m online shopping. Keep reading to see how I use a VPN to keep up with my favorite US TV shows!
For just a few bucks a month, you can browse with an anonymous IP to protect your privacy. The VPN I use is called Private Internet Access and I have it on all my family’s computers, mobile phones, and tablets. FYI, if you use my referral link for Private Internet Access you and I each get 30 days free!
OCONUS Travel Teck Hack #2: I Want to Make & Receive Calls to the USA
I know there are a billion ways to make phone calls back to friends and family for free nowadays, even video calls. Facebook, iPhone Messaging, Instagram, WhatsApp are just a handful that I use to keep in touch with friends and family.
However, for a few bucks a month, I also use Skype. I wanted a way to easily call my friends and family and more importantly, for them to be able to call me, without having to use an app. So, I purchased a Skype Number that is US-based. Coupled with my $2.99 a month Skype service. I can call anyone in the United States (including 1-800 numbers) and they can call me too. I can also receive SMS text messages to my US-based Skype number. This comes in handy when one of your apps or accounts wants to send you a pin or reset message by text.
If you’re thinking why not just use one of the apps I mentioned above? Well not everyone I know uses social media (gasp). My method above also allows me to call businesses, people I’m on social media with, and even toll-free numbers
OCONUS Travel Teck Hack #3: I Want to Use My Favorite Electronics
I bought a handful of these bubbas on Amazon before I moved and I’m so glad I did! You can plug this travel adapter into the wall at basically any country in the world. This is extra great because I hope that when you’re OCONUS you get the opportunity to travel as much as you can!
Plug in your laptop, charge your phone and your favorite headphones all in one spot. These come with several USB outlets so you don’t have to fight your spouse for coveted outlet real estate…your battery level is lower anyway.
REMEMBER: This is not a converter, it is an adapter. That means that it supplies the same voltage as the outlet that you plug it into. Dual-voltage devices like most laptops, TVs, phones chargers, and, curling irons will work perfectly with these adapters.
OCONUS Travel Teck Hack #4: I Want to Use My Favorite Electronics (without blowing them up)
Depending on where you live, voltage issues may or may not be a problem. When I lived in South Korea, I could run any of my American 110-volt electrical appliances on a convert. Here in Italy, if I want to blow out my hair with my favorite hairdryer brush, I have to turn off all the lights and appliances in my apartment and say a prayer before I flip that converter switch.
An easier and less stressful way is to buy a dual-voltage version of your most favorite items. Hairdryers and flatirons can easily be found in dual-voltage models. For an essential appliance you’re going to use every day like a coffee machine or a fan, just go ahead and buy a local model and skip the converter.
OCONUS Travel Teck Hack #5: I Want to Watch My Favorite TV Shows
We don’t live in an overseas location where we are anywhere near a military installation. AFN programming is not an option for us and we were having some definite FOMO during football season.
You’ll find that Netflix works internationally, even without using a VPN. However, some of the programmings differ from country to country. Sometimes I skip using my VPN so that I can watch some of my new favorite shows I can only see in Europe. I can verify that the Private Internet Access VPN works for Netflix.
I recently signed up for Spotify, something I always side-eyed other people for spending money on. Now, I’m obsessed with it. Spotify doesn’t require a VPN, you can listen to music offline without wifi, and share playlists with your friends.
However, with my premium Spotify subscription, I also receive access to Hulu. I don’t watch Hulu very often but I’ve been wanting to watch The Handmaid’s Tale after reading the book a few years ago! You’ll also need a VPN for this one. I can verify that the Private Internet Access VPN works for Hulu.
Like any good millennial, I watch DirectTV by using my VPN and logging into my brother’s account. Sports, Game of Thrones, reality TV…it’s all at my disposal now. My big brother is nice for letting me use his account, but I hooked him up as an authorized user on my American Express Platinum card so he can be a lounge lizard when he travels. I can verify that the Private Internet Access VPN works for DirectTV.
To watch the majority of Amazon Prime content, you will need a VPN but Amazon is pretty successful in blocking most well-known VPNs. Recently, they have released a limited selection of programming that is available while abroad.