Costa Brava, not Costa Lotta
You have all heard the stories of people heading overseas and returning to a phone bill, which makes the price of buying a premier league football club, look more affordable. As you head off this summer, there are a few things you can consider and some tweaks on your phone that you can make. If you follow these it should mean you’ll be to able afford a few more of those sunset cocktails on the beach, knowing that on your return to good ole’ Blighty; there will not be an almighty hole in your welcome mat, made when the bill drops in through the letterbox.
Will your phone work abroad?
Good news is that most phones purchased in the UK will work across Europe and most of the rest of the world. Check you have ‘Quad-Band’ and ‘GSM’ mentioned in the phones specs, and you are good to go almost anywhere. You may need to activate roaming on your phone. If you are an EE, Orange or T Mobile customer you need check you have roaming on by texting ROAMING to 150 and you will receive a text to explain what to do next. This process can take 24hrs so do it before you leave. Virgin Mobile customers call 789 from your mobile. O2 customers default is on.
Buy a roaming package before you go
This is by far the cheapest option if you plan to use your phone as you do at home, with the usual social media status updates and photo uploads.
Euro Talk and text unlimited is just £2 a day from EE, Orange and T mobile. As an EE customer, Euro Pass allows you to add 500MB of data for £4 per day and if you are an EE Extra customer, you already have Euro talk and text, so add 500MB of EuroData for £3 per day, just text ‘EuroPass’ or ‘EuroData’ to 150. If planning a long haul holiday to other destinations outside of the Euro package, please contact us for the latest tariffs.
Even if you have a data plan, pop a cap on your data in the settings, as it is easy to get carried away uploading selfies on the beach in your new swimwear, or the ubiquitous leg photos by the pool.
Many places offer free Wi-Fi. Using Hotel, restaurant or hotspot Wi-Fi, is the easiest way to avoid data charges, however be sure to update your security apps before you go abroad and do not access your banking or financial apps via any public Wi-Fi hotspot. Be aware it may be a slow connection and check you are on a free hotspot and not being charged.
Turn off Roaming and Auto-sync
To save data, just turn off roaming in your settings and while you are there, turn off all your auto-syncs. Then you can always manually check your email, Facebook etc., in one batch, when you get back to Wi-Fi.
Although it is free, for the person calling to leave you a message, if you are in the Euro package, it will cost you to retrieve it. Decide whether to change the message for the person to text you instead or just turn it off and risk missing the call.
Use apps such as ‘Viber’ or ’Skype’ for calls and ‘WhatsApp’ for messaging and photo swapping too. ‘Onavo’ will compress your data by up to 80%, not for streaming or VOIP calls though. ‘Opera’ is the browser to use abroad as not only does it compress data, but has some ad blocking to; you do not want to pay to see adverts as well! All these are available on iPhone and Android platforms.
Don’t Use apps
Google maps are the first offender of large data usage; you will want to stop using abroad, unless you have previously downloaded the maps for the area you are visiting. Gaming is another high data usage pastime, particularly when playing against others. Uninstall apps, which you do not intend to use and save storage for the following tip.
Download TV, movies, and books
Do this before you go and your inflight journey maybe all the more pleasant, especially if you have saved money by flying budget. Do not forget to pack the earphones!
You can always use the hotel Wi-Fi to repeat the process for your return journey. Yes, it will use up your storage, so why not uninstall some apps before you go and you can delete them after watching too.
Protect your assets
Consider extending your insurance to cover your phone whilst you are away, check policies such as travel insurance as they do not always cover you if you lose your phone abroad. Dedicated phone insurance is usually your best bet.
Lock your phone, and consider registering for ‘find my phone’ or ‘remote delete data’, in case the worst happens and some light fingers have it away with your phone.
Lock your sim, as a thief can just extract your sim card and use it in their phone, using your tariff, and exceeding it. If you find it is already locked, it maybe that your network locked it. A simple check online will find the default pin and you should change it for security.
If the worst happens, if your phone does end up stolen, make sure you report it to the police and let your network know as soon as possible. This is important for preventing unauthorised use of your service, and may be critical for insurance claims.
Get yourself sorted before you go and you can relax ….anyway you are supposed to be on holiday!