Mobile phone addiction is a very real thing! According to a report out last year, the average Brit checks his or her mobile phone a massive 50 times a day! Now I am not judging as I can be as guilty as the next person, but when I am on holiday I try to tone it down. Apart from taking the odd photo, our mobiles are confiscated, especially during the day when we are with the kids. If we need to work then it is strictly once the children are in bed or before they wake in the morning. Social media in particular is addictive and many people struggle to manage without their mobiles, even on holiday! 'Checking in' at a fancy restaurant or sharing 'hot dog leg' photos taken whilst you lie on a sun lounger are now all part of the holiday experience. However, it can end up costing you hundreds if you don't use your mobile properly abroad.
Once you leave the UK you can no longer guarantee the free calls, minutes and data on your mobile tariff. The situation did get better on 30th April when the European Commission introduced new mobile roaming caps that will further reduce the cost of using a mobile in the EU. uSwitch say that six in 10 UK mobile customers are still afraid to use handsets in other EU countries for fear of bill shock when they return home but these new call and data roaming charges (just 0.05 Euros) should make life easier for smartphone addicts! And next year data roaming charges are being scrapped completely - hurrah! However, with a possible Brexit, who knows what the future is for mobile bills! If you are outside of the EU then charges are not capped - it can cost as much as £3 per minute to make a call and £1.50 per minute to receive one so beware!
As Smartphones and tablets automatically seek out mobile connections in order to install updates, it's actually very easy to run up a high bill when you're abroad. The best way to avoid this is to make sure your mobile internet data (usually found under Settings, data roaming) is switched off when you're not using it. I actually heard a story about a man receiving a £5,858 phone bill following a trip or holiday abroad because he forgot to turn off the data roaming function on his handset! One of the biggest culprits for a high bill is using your GPS on your phone for directions. The minute you turn it on you'll start paying. Prepare before you go by printing maps or even taking a sat nav with you if you will be driving.
If you can use Wifi abroad, apps like Facetime, Skype and Whatsapp are brilliant when you are away as you can set up your phone for calling and texting via the internet for free. It is a very easy way to keep in touch without costing anything. There are now loads of ways to use the internet for free whilst you are abroad and an increasing number of hotels and public places will have free wifi you can use to contact home. We found that most restaurants will give you the code if you ask them. Also if you access BT fon at home you can also access it at over 1 million places overseas, check this map at http://corp.fon.com/maps to see if there are any hot spots where you're travelling.
If you are going to be using your phone a lot either in Europe or further afield then getting a local or global SIM card will be the cheapest option. The SIM will have an initial cost, usually around £15-£30 which is pricey, but good for heavy users. As an example, the Australian SIM from company 0044 costs around £29.99 but comes with £20 credit and reduces local calls in Australia to 3p a minute, calls to the UK to 3p a minute, texts to 9p and data to 15p per MB. In some places, especially the US, it can make more sense to grab a basic Pay As You Go handset preloaded with minutes.
We all know that the chances of you leaving your smartphone at home are slim, so just be savvy to avoid bill shock on your return! For more information take a look at this guide