Stay in touch abroad without huge mobile fees
Roaming charges be damned: there are an ever increasing number of ways to stay in touch abroad without incurring huge mobile fees or hotel charges.
Free wi-fi is your friend. If you travel with your laptop and book into a hotel or cafe that has wi-fi, you can download free applications like Skype, iChat or IM to call home either via video or voice.
If you kit yourself out with one of the smartphones or tablets that have Skype or Facetime capability, you don’t even need a laptop. No surprise Skype added almost 200 million users last year, upping its revenue by 20% to £527 million.
If you don’t want to rely on patchy free wi-fi, how about a good old-fashioned phone call? You can buy a local SIM, but forget using your own phone number.
Polar Wireless, a mobile virtual network operator, is in the latter stages of testing a SIM card that works in conjunction with your network provider (so you don’t have to change numbers) and gives competitive rates for international calls.
You slip the extra thin SIM over your own and it works with 80% of GSM phones. Rates are charged pre-payment; top up via the firmwire app on your handset.