There’s no doubt that the smartphone has done wonders for making our lives more convenient and connected than ever. From keeping up to date with the very latest news as it happens, to staying in touch with people all over the world, we are an increasingly mobile nation – and the popularity of the smartphone shows no sign of slowing down.
Even when travelling abroad, taking along a trusty smartphone can enhance your experience no end. It can be used to work out where on earth you are going when confronted with unfamiliar roads as well as to contact hotels, taxis, family and friends.
However, without the proper research and forethought, using your mobile phone abroad can come along with a rather nasty sting in the tail. It can be all too easy to rack up a hefty bill totalling hundreds of pounds just from not fully understanding the tariffs your network switches to when abroad.
Although there is presently a cap on charges for those travelling in the EU, this might not apply for journeys further afield. But instead of simply switching off the smartphone whilst you’re on holiday, follow these simple steps to make the most out of your mobile abroad:
1. Turn off your data roaming
Depending on where you are in the world, data roaming tariffs can be astronomical. Plus, even if you are not using your phone, applications running in the background can be slowly yet surely eating up your data without you even realising it. Your best bet when it comes to saving money on your mobile phone use is to ensure that your data roaming is switched off and instead use your Wi-Fi to take advantage of a local Internet connection. These days it’s more than likely you will find hotels, restaurants and cafes on your travels that offer free Wi-Fi and, if the connection is strong enough, you can even use this to make calls as well as send messages and access the web.
2. Use an app to call
If your mobile phone has a UK number, your friends and family back home might want to take advantage of the fact that they can call you for no more than the standard domestic rate. However, the cruel twist is that when you are roaming abroad, you’ll be the one to foot the extra cost, should you accept the call. We suggest downloading a calling system like Skype and arrange a time to call when you can utilise free Wi-Fi instead. Alternatively, if you can’t rely on the Internet, try Rebtel, an app which utilises normal landlines or mobiles to make international calls at local rates. To download Skype and make calls for free click here.
3. Say no to downloads and streaming
You might use your mobile for downloading TV shows, films and music on a regular basis when at home, but if you’re concerned about mounting costs when abroad then steer clear of this practice when overseas. Of course, if you have a Wi-Fi connection then stream away; without one, you could easily use up tons of data and be in for a nasty surprise when you get your bill.
4. Download maps in advance
Relying on Google Maps to get around is a way of life for some travellers. Gone are the days of lugging a huge paper map around with you, struggling to find your exact location and then struggling to fold it up and put it away – now the smartphone can get you from A to B with ease and subtlety. However, turning on your data for a journey can eat up a lot of data. Instead, save the maps you need in advance and enjoy your holiday exploration, safe in the knowledge you won’t get lost.
5. Keep your phone secure (including insurance)
Your dream holiday could easily turn into a nightmare if your mobile phone goes missing or gets stolen. Although this kind of disaster could be enough to put a dampener on anyone’s trip, there are ways to minimise the financial burn that could occur if your mobile isn’t properly protected.
Firstly, make sure you lock both your handset and SIM with a PIN code or alternative personal identification code such as a fingerprint. This will prevent any unscrupulous characters running up charges on your account.
Secondly, if the worst happens and your mobile phone does go walkabout, contact the network immediately to prevent unauthorised use of your account and, if it’s been stolen, report it to the police.
Finally, never travel without suitable insurance. Medical Travel Compared offer a comparison service designed to help you shop a wide variety of insurance providers in order to make sure you are suitably covered for your trip. However, it’s always important to check the small print and check the exclusions to find out just how far that cover will stretch. It may be that you need to take out additional insurance for your mobile phone to work alongside your health insurance. It might cost a little extra, but it means you can relax on your holiday, safe in the knowledge that your precious phone is covered.
Check out Medical Travel Compared's Travel Insurance Exclusions for more information.
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