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Nowadays when planning a trip abroad, packing your smartphone is as essential as remembering sun cream and swimwear, yet there are some things to... Summer Holiday Essentials: Using Your Smartphone Abroad

Nowadays when planning a trip abroad, packing your smartphone is as essential as remembering sun cream and swimwear, yet there are some things to consider before you jet off. Here are a few pointers to make sure you don’t get caught out on your trip.

Roaming Charges

Before you even set foot in the airport it is a good idea to find out the roaming charges from your mobile network provider. Any calls made while you are abroad are never included in your ‘free minutes’ and even text messages can be pricey.

Woman using phone on a beach

Turn Off Voicemail

This is something you should definitely consider doing for the duration of your trip, simply because you will be charged for both receiving  and retrieving a voicemail.

Turn Off Mobile Data and Look For WiFi Hotspots

Roaming charges for mobile data can be extortionate so it’s worth considering turning this off too. If you download any apps, films or videos, then you will be charged quite heavily and this can add a significant cost to your trip.

data roaming charges

If you do want or need to get online then it is worth hunting for a Wi-Fi hotspot in places like cafes, restaurants or hotels, which are sometimes free. You won’t need to switch on your data roaming but as long as you stay within the range of the hotspot, you will be able to access your emails, check social networks and surf the internet .

Cheap International Call With Your Provider

If you speak to your provider before departing then often they can bolt on some kind of cheap international tariff onto your existing contract. This can usually be done as a one-off for a set period of time (say a month) or it can be permanently added to your contract if you travel abroad a lot. Just remember to check what will happen once you have used up the inclusive allowance, you may stop receiving data completely or worse, start being charged by the standard rate.

Free Calls and Messages

If you do find a WiFi hotspot or just decide to take a hit on your own data roaming charge then you can consider using services like Skype and WhatsApp in order to get free calls and texts. You just need to download the Android or iOS versions of the app to your smartphone (ideally before you leave the country!) and then you can contact anyone already using Skype or WhatsApp for free.

International SIM/Local SIM

If you are going to be away for a longer period of time or plan to make a number of trips to the same destination, then it might be an idea to get a local SIM. Although you will have a different phone number, you will only be charged at the local rate. Just don’t lose your own SIM card for back home!

International SIMs again are good if you are planning a number of trips but it will only be worthwhile if you are visiting various countries. If your family and friends plan to call you while you are away too, then this option makes it cheaper for everyone.

Or…Just Don’t Take Your Phone!

Of course the final option is, don’t take your phone! If your trip is meant to be a holiday, then checking emails and fretting over whether you’ve got sand in your smartphone, will not add to the relaxing nature of your holiday. Have any tips to share? Tell us about them in the comments below.

[Images via Yewulian & SundayTimes]