We all know how much I love to travel and see the world and I don’t intend for that to stop in 2019. In fact, I’ve got a trip booked for February already and I can’t wait to see where the rest of the year will take me. Since I do like to go away on a regular basis, I’ve become very familiar with travelling dos and don’ts, especially when it comes to using my phone abroad. Unfortunately too many people go on holiday and make the rookie mistake of using their mobile phone without checking out the charges first. Once they get home they end up being met with an extortionate bill and in some cases, it has been known for individuals’ phones to be cut off, even while they’re away from home, as the network provider suspects it has been stolen. Thankfully, I haven’t had those kinds of issues for years now as I’ve become very well rehearsed in using my phone when I’m travelling; I’ve had to really with working from my phone!
Over the years, there has been a lot of media coverage and attention given to the monumental charges experienced whilst using mobiles while abroad. However, people don’t seem to take this seriously or to really consider it before they travel yet when they’re at home, their phone is like its attached to their arm! Some think that reports of high phone bills and offers of alternative solutions are just a ploy to try and get them to purchase alternative methods or extra data bundles and some think that if they only use it a little bit then they should be fine but I’ve learnt the hard way that you’re far better going off what you know than what you think when you travel!
Let’s face it, its much better to be safe rather than sorry so I’m sharing my top keeping-in-touch travel tips with you today. You’re best off looking at the different options available to you before you go so that you can make sure your holiday doesn’t end up costing you a lot more than you expected!
WHAT DO YOU USE YOUR PHONE FOR?
Think about what it is that you actually use your phone for while you’re away and how much you’re on it. For me, I like to call home a couple of times if I’m away for a week to let my parents/partner know that I’m ok and I’ll Whatsapp or text my friends to keep up to date with them but its the internet that I use the most for working while I’m away, keeping on top of my social media, using Apple Maps and listening to Apple Music.
CALL YOUR NETWORK PROVIDER
Give your network provider a call and find out exactly what IS and more importantly, what ISN’T included within your phone contract. Most companies will offer additional bundles that you can add onto your contract but these tend to be very costly and the other options I’ll look at below tend to be much more cost effective.
My contract with EE enables me to use my phone in selected European countries as part of my inclusive minutes and data but I get charged extra for picture messaging. Outside of Europe is where the charges really rack up. When I was in Costa Rica, Jamaica and Bali last year, I couldn’t use my phone unless I was connected to WiFi which was really inconvenient.
CHECK OUT THE LOCAL AREA AND YOUR HOTEL
So many hotels now offer WiFi, sometimes it is free, sometimes you need to pay but its worthwhile looking on their website beforehand to see if they offer it and check out some Trip Advisor reviews to see if people have commented on whether or not the connection is strong and reliable or weak in some areas of the hotel, etc. It might also be worth your while to check out the businesses in the local area to see if they have WiFi too. When I was in Bali, almost every cafe and bar offered free WiFi which was ideal when I wanted to update my social media while I was out for dinner.
DOWNLOAD THE MEDIA YOU WANT TO CONSUME
Before you leave home, use your WiFi to download the media you’ll want to listen to and watch while you’re away. I download loads of albums from Apple Music onto my phone rather than listening to them through the cloud like I do at home and I download lots of Youtube videos and Netflix series and films to watch on their respective apps. This means that if I have a long lay over in the airport or I’m wanting an early, chilled night, I have something to watch and I’ll never be short of a bangin’ tune to listen to around the pool.
BUY AN INTERNATIONAL PHONE CARD
The trouble with WiFi is that although you can currently make a call on it through FaceTime and such like, the connection is often not very good in a lot of places and you’re also relying on the other persons signal to be good enough to take the call too. When you’re travelling abroad, there are two main options at your disposal to combat this, these being international sim cards and international phone cards. Both are great choices, and which one you decide to go for simply depends on your situation, the length of your holiday, where you are going, and so on and so forth.
International phone cards tend to be the most popular option. All you need to do is purchase a phone card for the amount you want and then you will be able to use it while you’re on holiday or travelling abroad for work, etc. You can buy these via PostOffice.co.uk, as well as other sites. It is common practice for hotels to have a phone that you can make a call on using one of the international phone cards. Plus, so many places abroad still have plenty of public payphones and the cards often work on some landline phones as well.
You can usually buy cards for the following amounts; £5, £10 and £20. Since you can buy them before you go away, they’re convenient and you don’t need to worry about how you are going to do to ring people once you get to your destination, or how much it is going to cost, as you will have prepared in advance.
You’ll also get better rates if you shop around and do your research beforehand. You will be able to get an idea of how many minutes you will get for your money as well and therefore you can budget effectively. You can also check out the likes of NetVoucherCodes.co.uk to see if there are any discounts or voucher codes available to make your money go further.
BUY AN INTERNATIONAL SIM CARD
Aside from international phone cards the other option you can go for is an international sim card. This is extremely beneficial if you are someone who likes to travel frequently, particularly if you tend to travel to the same place. However there are some companies who offer specially designed sim cards that are applicable for a huge number of countries. They are likely to offer you some great deals as well, such as a certain amount of free text messages and data.
This is what I wish I had done when I was in Bali. I was there for all of May and if I’d just bought an international sim I’d have been able to call and text whenever I wanted, plus I could have used their 3G network while I was out and about; it would have been SO helpful. When I go back I’ll DEFINITELY be buying one as they were the equivalent of about £10-£15 for a whole months worth of usage which was far cheaper than any bundle I could ever buy for my mobile phone and definitely cheaper than just using my phone out of the contract!
The great thing about going for an international sim card is the fact that you will be able to use it for many years to come when you travel. Particularly if you go for one that has lots of countries included, you’ll not have to seek a telephone solution when you travel for the foreseeable future!
The only thing you need to be mindful of is the fact that you will need an unlocked mobile phone in order to use an international sim card. If your phone is locked to a specific UK provider then you will need to get it unlocked. Many places offer this service and it is relatively cheap, if not free, depending on your provider. All you do is give them a call and ask for your phone to be unlocked. It can usually take up to 48 hours, or so I’ve experienced!
I hope my tips help you to avoid a colossal phone bill on your next trip abroad!
Where are you headed on your next holiday? How do you keep in touch with others while you’re away?