Keeping in touch when abroad…

By | April 9, 2018
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Why are tablets and smartphones (and laptops too I suppose) so popular?

There are probably umpteen reasons. But I think one reason is that you can easily take them on holiday with you.

It’s not that everyone’s madly addicted to their devices and can’t bear to leave them for even a week (some people might be, but not my readers, I’m sure!)

It’s that if you use it to keep in touch with friends and family, it’s nice to be able to do that while you’re on holiday as well. To be able to say you’ve arrived safe and sound, that the hotel is nice or to be able to point out how great the food is and how much nicer the weather is than back in Blighty where everyone’s getting rained on…

But to be able to do that you need to be able to connect to the internet on your device. (Unless you’re just using it to phone or text people, I suppose. Even then, you might want to be able to use Skype or Facebook messenger or FaceTime for a video call.)

There are a couple of different ways.

First of all, if your hotel/apartment/holiday cottage/goat-skin yurt has wifi, then you can use that, just as you would at home.

Sometimes your device will just find it and connect, sometimes you’ll need to get the password from the hotel reception.

In some cases you have to pay extra for wifi – or you get a limited wifi free but you have to pay if you want the fully blown fast one. (Often the slow one is good enough for most things – maybe not video calls, though – it depends.)

If where you’re staying doesn’t have wifi, then you can usually find a cafe or pub that has free wifi for customers, so it’s a good excuse for a nice coffee and cake/long gin and tonic.

The other option is if you’re using your smartphone and you have 3g or 4g on it.

That’s where you can connect to the internet even when you’re not in range of wifi – most people with smartphones have this in the UK, though if you have a pay as you go phone it’s probably expensive to use, even while you’re in the UK.

If you have a monthly contract on your phone you probably have a certain amount of “data” included, which is only used up when you’re not using wifi. But if you want to use it while you’re on holiday, it’s worth checking what your contract says about “roaming”.

Obviously, if you’re on holiday in the UK, that’s fine. And for most contracts you’ll find you can use it in most of Europe without paying extra – but not all parts.

And if you’re further afield, then unless you’re on a special contract, you’ll probably have to pay extra to use your phone to connect to the internet there, unless you’re using wifi.

So it’s definitely worth checking with your phone company before you rely on it!

One more thing I should say: how good the signal is will vary – not all countries have as many mobile phone masts as the UK – then again, some have far better signal and it’s not always obvious which countries will have better or worse signal. So even if you can use the internet on your phone while you’re away it might not be very fast and might not work so well with things like video calls, downloading big files or watching online TV.

While I mention TV, the phone will know what country you’re in, so you may find some services that are restricted to UK only won’t work. For example if you try to watch some BBC programmes that are only for viewing in the UK, you might not be able to. It’s not that you’ve done anything wrong, it’s just about where you are.

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