Monday, May 20, 2013

A Little Planning Will Save Some Big Bucks

 I got an email from a reader who is planning a trip to Europe this summer and he was wondering about how to stay in touch with his family back at home.  He has a smart phone and was going to get an iPad before his trip.  Since others may also be going out of the country this summer I thought I would share some of the hints I gave him. No matter where you will be traveling, it is a good idea to do some planning and research.  Time spent now will save dollars on the trip.

Let’s first discuss phones.  The cellular networks in most other countries differ from the networks in the US and Canada.  This means that your phone will not work unless you make some modifications.  You should start with your carrier.  They should be able to either provide you a different SIM card that will allow your phone to work in the foreign country you plan to visit or they may be able to provide a short term rental of a different phone.  There is no one answer so talk to your mobile phone carrier.

Be sure to also ask about the billing.  Most contracts do not cover minutes used out of the country.  This is especially important if you plan to use the data network.  It is easy to rack up hundreds of dollars in bills in a few short weeks abroad.  Find out ahead of time what your plan includes and the cost per minute for telephone use as well as the data rates.

It you are going on a cruise, very likely there will be wifi on board.  The same is true with most hotels but they usually charge extra for the wifi.   I can’t understand why even in this country inexpensive motels give away wifi free and the upscale hotels with room rates of several hundred dollars a night charge an arm and a leg.  Nevertheless they do, so find out ahead of time what they will charge.  If you have wifi available your tablet, smart phone, lap top and any other wifi devices should work fine with no modifications.

You will need to keep all your devices charged up.  This too takes some preparation.  Many chargers like the one for iPhones and iPads can operate on the various voltages found in other countries but you have to be able to plug them in.  Go to Radio Shack or other electronics store and purchase an adapter kit.  Most will have all the different plug configurations found outside North America.  To be extra prepared bring along an extra battery that is charged up and ready to go.

With a bit of planning you will be able to stay in touch using email.  If you have Skype or Face Time you can share the sights and sounds of you trip as it is happening.


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