Monday, February 20, 2012

Traveling with Mobile Phones

guest post by Nora Williams

These days, thanks in large part to the massive spread of smart phones, the benefits of cell or mobile phones are greater than ever. The levels of convenience and methods of quick communication now available at the touch of a button are astounding, and this has led to a dramatic increase in the number of mobile phone users, and specifically smart phone users, all over the world. This is all fantastic, of course, but it can also be somewhat complicated when you get into what, specifically, you want out of your mobile phone and how you intend to use it. There are so many options, and so many functions that these phones can perform, that careful preparation is required if you are to make effective and budget-friendly decisions. For example, have you ever given thought to using your mobile phone abroad?

Once upon a time, only specialized travel phones could connect you with international service. Now, however, just about any mobile phone that you pick up from any regular provider such as O2 can be compatible with international service. This leaves you free to make calls, receive messages, and even enjoy your smart phone Internet and e-mail access while travelling abroad, which of course can be very convenient for a number of reasons. Unfortunately, however, all of this service can also add up to be very expensive after even just a short time abroad, as most roaming charges are higher than what you normally pay. So, here are a few tips for how to make use of your mobile abroad, and do so in an affordable manner:

o    First, of course, you need to make sure that your mobile phone is compatible with roaming services. Again, most mobile phones these days can be set up with international service. However, often this is something that needs to be organized in advance through your service provider; so do not make the mistake of waiting until you are already abroad to discover that you don't have service.

o    To save money from service charges, you can actually shut off certain features of your phone for the duration of your time abroad. For example, if you would only like to have your phone available for emergencies or rare situations, you may be able to afford turning off your voicemail. Or, if you are only using your device as a phone, and not for data access or downloads, you can turn off these smart features as well. Doing this can stop others from sending you data, voicemails, etc. that cost you money to download abroad.

o    If you follow the above step and turn off your data and downloading, but would still like to be able to access the Internet via your mobile device, you should remember to look into the Wi-Fi options wherever you are staying. Tapping into an available Wi-Fi network will almost always be cheaper than using your mobile device's 3G or 4G roaming services. In fact, more and more Wi-Fi is free at hotels and airports, so this may actually cost you nothing!

o    Similar to the above tip, you can also cut back on your mobile phone costs by bringing your laptop or tablet with you when you travel. Internet service on such devices operates entirely through the connection available, rather than roaming charges, so if at all possible you should limit your mobile device to purely phone usage, and use your other devices for Internet access.

With a bit of planning and care, mobile phones are a key element of modern travel. Used wisely, they are an effective and economical way to stay in touch.

Photo Credits: lake, beach


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