As a travel blogger you are alway on the move. Most of our time me and my colleagues spend on our journeys. In every imaginable situation we work in front of our laptops – in the wifi from the hotel, As a travel blogger I’m constantly on the move. My colleagues and I spend most of our time travelling to our destinations. Whenever possible, we’re working on our laptops – using free wifi in hotels, airports and on buses. If our internet connection is fast enough, we can work from anywhere. Sometimes though I dream about being a bit more mobile. Independent of timetables and flight departures. Shorter waiting times in airports would be nice, too. Or maybe just free wifi everywhere, so I can spend my time more effectively. For this reason roadtrips are ideal – the road is part of the adventure and I can decide flexibly when I want to be where.
All I need is the right vehicle. A car that can save my life after an accident. A car that can help me avoid breakdowns. A car that can offer me and six additional passengers high speed internet abroad so we can share our memories in real time! Wait a minute! Is this just wishful thinking? No, this vehicle really exists. I flew to London to find out more about this ideal travel buddy and to test the new Opel OnStar system.
An international road trip, with potentially different traffic laws or driving on the other side of the road – what a nightmare for occasional drivers like myself. I find it hard to concentrate on driving while also having to check maps and travel guides. I can make things easier for myself by painstakingly planning ahead and saving routes in the navigation system. Usually when I drive I’m concentrating so hard that I can’t really enjoy my surroundings. Luckily, Opel has invented a companion who is familiar with the area around me. Someone who can help me find a specific place. Like my hotel, the nearest coffee shop, a petrol station or a nearby restaurant. And not in a navigation system but rather a real person who can help you in each and every situation!
Imagine you’re driving along a country road and there’s no petrol station in sight. All you have to do is press the Opel OnStar service button and it will automatically connect you with an Opel OnStar adviser. This person sees your position, locates the nearest gas station and downloads the address to your navigation system. You don’t have to move your hands until you activate the navigation system. That’s what I call laid back travelling. Of course, this also works with hotels, restaurants and visitor attractions.
In a nutshell, that’s what Opel’s new baby, the OnStar system, is all about. Let me walk you through all the cool and helpful tips and tricks of this unique system.
Opel OnStar – My personal assistant
At the push of a button, the Opel OnStar system connects me to my personal assistant while I’m driving. A real person. Around the clock, someone is there to help me find the nearest restaurant, camping site, hotel and more. I get to talk to highly trained OnStar employees, who can help me within seconds. They find my selected destination and send the address to my navigation system. Perfect. And all that without lifting a finger. All I have to do is communicate with my OnStar advisor and he or she takes care of everything. And the best bit? You can use Opel OnStar in a language of your choice – regardless of whether you’re in your home country or abroad.
Opel OnStar – Car health
The nice Opel OnStar advisors also help with technical questions about the car. Tire pressure, oil levels and how far you can drive until you need to fuel up – they know within seconds. I think it’s way more practical to identify problems before you’re stranded all alone in the middle of nowhere. What do you think?
Opel OnStar – Wifi for me and my friends
How amazing would it be to have a fast internet connection wherever you are? Once this becomes a reality I doubt I’d keep a fixed home at all – I’d just travel. Most of us would find it hard to get by without internet. Especially when you’re away from home and want to let your loved ones know how and where you are. Text messages are of course still an option. But most of us opt for sending free messages via WhatsApp once we’re on wifi…
The Opel OnStar system comes with a highly efficient antenna that not only runs the navigation system but also provides 4G high speed internet for up to seven people. Abroad. Can you think of anything better for your holiday? Internet access in and just outside the car. A dream for travel bloggers since it’s sometimes really hard to find good internet.
Opel OnStar – Safety first
The best thing about Opel OnStar however is not its high speed internet. What impressed me the most was the system’s first aid and security features. From the moment I registered my car for Opel OnStar, it automatically reported upcoming accidents to the OnStar head office.
In the case of an accident, OnStar staff members are able to see on screen what exactly happened to my car and me. Opel calls this ‘automatic crash response’.
Next, they will ask what happened and whether anybody is injured. If there is no reply from within the car, OnStar will notify the police and ambulance. Additionally, you can add the number of an emergency contact, whom OnStar will call after any accident. But OnStar not only provides assistance during your own accident. Each car comes with a red SOS-button, which you can press if you experience any problems or if you see an accident. The red button stands for an emergency and has priority on the OnStar telephone line.
I think this tool is incredibly practical. Not just for less experienced drivers like myself but also for elderly drivers, who may not carry mobile phones. Since the car lets you call for help with the press of just one button, drivers may be less hesitant to ask for help when needed. The red button makes it so much easier and faster to get help!
Opel OnStar – Privacy
“What about privacy and data protection?” I hear you say. Relax – Opel doesn’t track your driving style. In the head quarter they just react to the push on a button or to accidents.
However, for people who need a bit more reassurance, OnStar has added a privacy button. Upon activation, all the location services are switched off. Only in case of an accident or theft can OnStar track the car.
Opel OnStar – The OnStar app
Ever tried finding your car on a Sunday morning after a festival and forgot where you parked it? Or you parked your car after a long day at work and forgot the street name? We’ve all been there. The smartphone app activates your car’s horn at the push of a button. Thankfully you now stand a chance of finding your car almost immediately after the last band finishes their set!
The app has a number of other useful features: You can lock or unlock your car from a distance, you can switch your lights on, or check your petrol and oil level. Pretty useful if you’re already boarding the plane but possibly forgot to lock your car.
Opel OnStar – Protection against theft
Your car is gone. What now? First things first – call the police. And then call Opel OnStar. Give them the police reference number and then OnStar can track your car. Furthermore, OnStar can stop the thief in his tracks! The next time the thief stops the car, OnStar can block the ignition so the car can’t move until you or the police get there.
Opel OnStar – The headquarter
OnStar staff members are located in headquarters and help their drivers. Here, they also collect traffic information and the news. All part of their customer service.
Opel OnStar – the facts
- Opel OnStar is built into a number of models by default. In some cases you can add Opel OnStar at an installation cost of approximately 490€.
- n the first year after the initial registration, OnStar services and the internet are free.
- n the second year, OnStar services cost 99€/year (the internet rate has not been decided upon yet).
- So far, the OnStar system has saved a number of lives by notifying the emergency services when drivers failed to respond to the automatic crash response.
Opel OnStar – My personal conclusion
Some of you probably say you don’t need all this. You can look up addresses on the internet and type them into the navigation system. And every smartphone comes with GoogleMaps. However, I have to say that the OnStar system has a number of unique and useful features. First of all, its internet access is a huge plus in my eyes. Especially since it works in most European countries, and at a really high speed. As a travel blogger, I’m still waiting for a phone contract that offers a high volume of data abroad at a fair price. Opel OnStar is certainly ahead of the game in this regard!
I like that I can talk to a real person and not just a computer when I need help. However, the most decisive point is the automatic crash response. Of course I hope I will never be in a situation where I’d have to use it, but what if? Would I be able to call the police and emergency services? Or would I be too shocked or injured to act? You never know, but I think OnStar could be a crucial aide in an emergency situation – especially abroad.
This post developed in cooperation with Opel.