Roaming charges are the Devil. Despite Ofcom’s best attempts, mobile operators still get away with charging an arm and a leg for accessing any of their services abroad. For many of us – who use our phones a great deal when at home – the shift to being without it is a bit too jarring. So, we spend – and return home to a monster bill. Here are a few ways to avoid that.
- Use WiFi. WiFi is steadily growing in ubiquity, and most places around the world will be within reach of a signal. Charging for WiFi is gradually being knocked out by providers who are happy to offer their services for free – especially if they are offered in establishments where it is customary to purchase things while you are there (such as coffee houses).
Virtually any smartphone on the market nowadays has some way of rerouting the standard, GSM-level, high-cost mobile connection protocols through WiFi. And that means that you can text, call – even video call – and surf over WiFi. WhatsApp is immensely popular on all smartphone stores, and for good reason – it’s a free way to text, so long as you have an internet connection. Rocking the world (gently) is Viber, which again is free of charge. It offers calls directly to an individual’s mobile telephone number, but conducted (from your end) over WiFi (or another mobile data connection). In addition to providing really cheap international communication, Viber leverages recent advancements in Voice over IP (VoIP) technology to deliver stunning call quality.
Of course, there’s always e-mails, but let’s say you’re a little out of WiFi range. What can you do then?
- Consider ‘old-school’ approaches. Send a letter. Even better, find a printer (they’re ubiquitous all over the world) and bind up the information you need to get across in an envelope. Physical letters are still fun to receive, and cheap to send.
But letters aren’t the only option you have. Remember fax? That’s a very cost-effective way of sending large quantities of written information in a handy physical format, instantaneously. To save on printing costs, hunt down a reliable and advanced laser printer like an all in one laser printer to do the sending on. They’re more durable than inkjet printers, and so are more likely to have endured deeper in to the relative wilderness. Of course, if you have one intended recipient, making all necessary correspondences using a single device to enable low-cost two-way communication wouldn’t be far amiss.
- Hunt down bundles. Nearly all mobile operators offer ‘bundles’ to reduce your roaming fees. Make sure you read the small print very carefully before you sign up to one – some of them have fixed-term contracts attached – but there are some savings to be made here. If you’re planning on traveling for a while, try hunting down a ‘Global’ SIM card. These are specifically designed to offer low-cost services to people on an international scale. Their offerings are usually basic (stripped of luxuries such as 3G, for example), but they can help to avoid that monster bill at the end of the holiday.
So there we have it. Three valuable pieces of advice to help keep your holiday relaxing. It’s a great deal more pleasant to be able to communicate with home while avoiding worry about excessive bills. Take these three to heart, and that’s within your reach.