WhatApp on Tour

WhatsApp is arguably one of the most useful apps you could ever use when you’re traveling. You can video call anyone anywhere in the world, you can send photos, videos, voice messages, ‘text’ messages called “WhatsApps”, you can send locations, and of course, you can send emojis and stickers! The best thing about all of this is that this is free regardless of what your mobile carrier is or what type of phone you have, all you need to have is a wifi signal or internet data. More importantly, though, EVERYONE uses it outside of the States. Hotels, taxi drivers, YOUR SNORKEL VENTURE GUIDES, resorts…everyone. If you need any sort of assistance before the trip, during your journey to the destination, and whilst you are on the trip, WhatsApp is the vehicle of voice that is going to get you the quickest response to anything that you may need.

WhatsApp Groups

Us tour leaders use WhatsApp religiously on tour. The first thing we do before a tour starts is to create a WhatsApp group so we can introduce ourselves and pass any essential information onto you all easily. On tour, things like flights times or meal times might change and a quick message to the group is the easiest way for us to pass on this info without having to run around to everyone’s rooms and interrupt your downtime between snorkels. The airlines are going paperless over here in Indonesia, among other places, and after we’ve checked the group in for the flights we can easily pass the boarding passes onto you with a quick message. If you don’t have WhatsApp, getting you your boarding pass is a bit cumbersome. This group is also a great place for everyone to exchange and post photos at the end of each day.

Issues with other Messaging Platforms

We are well aware that WhatsApp is not a big thing in the States of the United as most people tend to communicate through text messages or use apps like Facetime and iMessage. The problem with these modes of messaging and calling is that–at least once you leave the country or start to communicate with people outside your bubble of friends–people won’t receive your messages or calls.

Text messages are only good if you have a phone signal and the person your sending text’s to are are also using a US mobile provider like Verizon or T-Mobile. If you were to land in Jakarta, for example, and needed to communicate with your Snorkel Venture tour leader to let us know that you’ll be late for the group dinner—or something like that—and you try to send us a text message using the phone number given to you on your tour documents, we won’t receive it, even if you have phone signal. Due to cross-border restrictions, it’s very likely that SMS notification will not reach anyone once you’ve left the States. With WhatsApp, all you need to do is log into the free wifi at the airport, or just use your own 5G if you have roaming on your phone, and you can call us or message us for free.

iMessage and Facetime work—or don’t work—in a similar fashion. If you were to try to do the same thing with with Facetime or iMessage, it’s also very likely we won’t receive the message or call from you as Facetime and iMessage are only really supported by Apple devices and a lot of people use android devices. Also, very few people have these apps set up on their phones outside of the States as most people just don’t use them, everyone uses WhatsApp. It’s also very likely you’ll incur a roaming fee with iMessage, on-top of your message not being delivered.

There are a bunch of other great features with WhatsApp that make it far more user-friendly than iMessage, Facetime, or Text Messaging, like the fact that you are not limited by the number of characters you can type, or the fact that you can actually see if the message arrives to the person you’re sending it to, and finally it’s one of the most secure messaging platforms out there with its end-to-end encryption.

Installing WhatsApp is Easy

Trust me, I know how annoying it is to get familiar with a new app. Learning new tech things are one of my least favorite things to do. However, as far as apps go, this one is very simple to use. Once you’ve downloaded it on your phone it take just a couple quick steps to setup and then it basically just works like a normal phone does.

    • Download the app from the App Store
    • Open the app and tap “Agree and Continue
    • Select the “Allow” button so WhatsApp can send you notifications when you receive messages or calls
    • Choose your country (the one where you live, not the one you’re traveling to), and then type in your mobile phone number.
    • Tap “Next
    • Tap “OK” to confirm your number
    • WhatsApp will send you a text message, open the text message and enter the 6-digit code
    • Tap “Allow” to give WhatsApp access to your contacts.
      • WhatsApp will go through your contacts and then automatically add them to your WhatsApp contact list. When you open the app and go to your contacts, all of those contacts are people who have WhatsApp and you can communicate with
    • If you plan on sending photos to people then select “Allow” so you can send videos and photos to people from your phone’s photo albums
      • You don’t need to give the app access to your photos, but it does help and makes it much easier to send photos and videos to people
  • Type your name in the Profile Info, if you want to include a photo you can as well
  • Tap “Next
  • You’re done!

All you have to do now is go into your contact list by pressing the little green + button in the top right of your screen and start messaging people.

Anytime you want to add a new contact, such as your Snorkel Venture tour leader, just add the contact the same way you always would, you don’t need to do it in the app.

It is for these reasons and many other that we urge all of our guests to download and install WhatsApp on their mobile devices before leaving the country. It’s our main method of communicating while we’re on tour, and we can just help you a lot quicker and easier if you have the app on your phone. 


About Author

Alex Lindbloom
Alex is a Snorkel Venture and Dive Safari Asia guide as well as the video and photo pros for both companies. Alex is also a field editor for a popular underwater photography magazine. Prior to joining Snorkel Venture in 2018 Alex lived and worked all over the world working as an underwater cameraman, with five of those years living/working on a yacht in Indonesia. Alex's images and videos have garnered many international awards such as Underwater Photographer of the Year and can be seen on NatGeo, Discovery Channel, the UN Building, and various magazines.