This certainly isn’t summer weather that we’re having right now and many out there may be planning on getting away later in the year and could find themselves spurred on by the cold conditions.
One aspect of travelling that more and more people are becoming aware of is how costly it can be to use your smartphone abroad, with many networks charging extra fees for data used when abroad.
Here we take a look at the best ways of making sure that you don’t come home from your holidays to find an enormous phone bill on your doormat.
Avoid using mobile data
This is a very general rule but everything else on this list comes under the same umbrella. This is the reason you hear horror stories of people racking up thousands of pounds in phone bills when they are on their holidays.
Go into your phone’s Settings menu and turn off 3G and mobile data, leaving them off unless it’s an emergency. This can be an inconvenience but, whilst many will have to get used to not using their phones as much as they do when at home, it will avoid any alarming charges.
Find a free Wi-Fi network
Just as you would when out and about closer to home, pay attention to free Wi-Fi hotspots and make use of them as much as you can. They’re usually quite easy to locate and many hotels now offer such services, as do fast food restaurants and cafes.
If you have a free, unlimited Wi-Fi connection you’ll be able to use your phone for a range of things that would usually accrue charges when abroad. That said, do keep the security of your information in mind as unsecured Wi-Fi networks can leave you exposed to data theft.
Once you’ve found that free Wi-Fi connection, you can easily call home via Skype, even making video calls to show people where you are. You’ll only be able to contact other Skype users, but with popularity of the service growing, there’s a good chance that your friends and loved ones are already signed up. If not, you can always encourage them to do so as the app is free.
Skyping can be a great way of saving money on calls that would otherwise be very expensive and while Skype does charge for international calls it is normally at local rates and the service sometimes runs free offers.
Looking to text people back home or send them pictures of what you’re up to? Skip your handset’s regular texting function and use a third party free messaging app.
WhatsApp has become hugely popular amongst smartphone users recently, offering the kind of free service across platforms that has previously been limited to BlackBerry users with BlackBerry Messenger. Find that free Wi-Fi connection and text as much as you want without fearing for your bank balance.
Onavo is a data monitoring app available for iOS and Android that keeps an eye on which apps are running up the bills on your handset. The free app lists everything on your phone and colour codes them according to how much data they use, allowing you to easily spot those that could cause problems.
Particularly great for traveller is the fact that you can set a data cap, after which the app will restrict your online use. If you have to use mobile data abroad, this is a great way of keeping an eye on the costs.
Use Opera Mini
If you have to browse websites abroad you’ll want to use as little data as possible. The Opera browser may not be everyone’s first choice of web portal at home but as it ‘crunches’ (explain what crunching is here) websites before sending them to a device, less data will be used.
This provides an easy way of saving on the amount of data you handset is using without having to compromise on performance. Opera is fast, fluid and well worth considering for use when travelling.
Text to Twitter
Keeping your Twitter followers up to date with what you’re doing on your holidays can be done without even going online. Twitter lets you post updates via text, as do a number of social networks, meaning you can tweet until your heart’s content without incurring data roaming costs.
Reading other people’s tweets is a different matter though and this is really a one way service. However, using this method is worth thinking about if you feel the need to tweet when travelling but want to avoid enormous bills when you get home.