The Traveller’s Guide to Mobile Internet
Remember those days when holidays were the ideal time to get away from modern technology, switch off and relax? Well not anymore as many holiday makers now can’t bare to be apart from their smartphones and tablets and so take them along for the ride. Although many people do this so they can check work e-mails, phonecalls and texts, with the advent of the smartphone many also use them to check out places to go visit while away, hotel and restaurant ratings and to catch up with friends on social networking sites.
Mobile phone packages now are priced far more competitively for the traveller meaning that you don’t have to incur scary costs just for turning on your Internet access abroad. Some companies offer free calls abroad, many offer free texts and some even give the option of free roaming with certain deals. The best way to find out what is best for you is to visit a store which covers a range of phone companies and tariffs and explain to the advisor your needs. Roaming charges, which are what you are charged for using the Internet abroad, have come down drastically as mobile internet has become more popular and so gone are thehorror stories of being charged thousands for holiday phone usage.
Although mobile Internet coverage is actually pretty good these days in most western countries, using a data service (such as 3G or E) while using a tablet is not recommended. A far more cost effective method is to invest in a dongle before you leave on your travels. This is a USB device which simply connects to your computer and provides a certain amount of data usage on a Pay-as-you-go or rolling contract set up.
If you are concerned about the mobile Internet coverage provided in the country you are travelling to, all networks now offer a simple ‘checking’ service online whereby you can search your destination and check coverage and estimated costs before you leave. This may help you plan which devices to take and whether you will require a dongle or not.
Wireless hotspots are also a great option to use as well with more and more springing up all over the world, especially in Europe. Public spots in cities, plus places such as McDonald’s offer free wi-fi so if you need to do a spot of surfing you can pop along and stay there as long as you need for free. Many guidebooks and tourist information services now include wi-fi spots within their information and most hotel and hostels will be able to point you in the right direction.
If you haven’t used your phone while abroad you may require your mobile phone company to activate your phone for usage in the country you are travelling to. This is generally a feature of older phones and is considered a rather old fashioned procedure these days but always check – better safe than sorry. This may also apply to your voicemail which may need a new access code before you can check it abroad.
If you plan to spend quite a bit of time in a certain country you may want to consider investing in a pay-as-you-go SIM for that area. This will mean all your roaming, call and text charges are at the local rate and so the cheapest you can possibly get them. However, this is only something to really consider if you are planning to be there for a while or are returning regularly.
As long as you check everything out with your Internet provider before you leave and arm yourself with extra equipment such as a dongle if required you will be able to surf the net abroad trouble free!
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