Telecommunication

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Mobile telephones are among the top five most popular travelling items taken overseas, and are a convenient way of staying in touch.

Using your phone overseas (roaming) can cost considerably more than it does at home, particularly if you want to surf the web a lot, upload photos to social networking sites or check or send lots of emails. You can even run up a big bill without actively using your phone as smartphones and 3G/4G enabled tablets automatically seek out mobile connections and use them to update apps. So unless you turn off data roaming before you go, these devices could be downloading data at standard rates throughout your stay without you realising it.
If you want to regularly browse the web on your phone, use local Wi-Fi hotspots instead of your phone's mobile internet connection. You can usually access Wi-Fi in places like cafes, restaurants and hotels, sometimes for free, or you can pay to access the internet for a set time period. Some phone apps can seek out Wi-Fi networks and prompt you to connect to them so that you don't have to do this manually. This is particularly useful for downloading maps, checking emails or browsing social networks - all of which would otherwise soon rack up data charges if a mobile internet connection was used. Remember, you don't need 'data roaming' switched on to access Wi-Fi. But this does mean you will need to stay within range of the Wi-Fi to avoid losing your connection. If you haven't turned data roaming off while using Wi-Fi and the Wi-Fi signal drops, your phone may automatically seek out a mobile network to keep you connected and you may therefore incur data charges.
Be extra careful when taking your phone abroad as thieves often target tourists. You should take care when using your phone in public, don't let it out of your possession. Not only are many smartphones worth hundreds of pounds, but thieves can quickly rack up huge bills on stolen phones. You may be liable for all charges run up on your phone when it goes missing up until you report it as lost or stolen to your provider. Therefore, it's important you contact your provider as soon as possible to avoid facing high charges as a result of unauthorised use.

It may work out cheaper to buy an international sim card or if you are planning a long stay in any particular country, a local sim card at your destination. Some operators donít allow you to switch sim cards, and will lock your phone - your operator will be able to give you more information on this. Alternatively, some independent phone retailers will be able to unlock handsets for you.

Your mobile phone will pick up the strongest network while you are abroad. As this wonít necessarily be the cheapest network you may want to do some local research and look into changing your phoneís settings to pick up the cheapest network.

If you are using your own network provider's pre-paid mobile international roaming service, make sure you know how to use your credit card to top up your calling credit before you leave, or take extra vouchers, as they may be hard to obtain abroad.

Make a note of your mobile's serial number (also known as the IMEI number), your mobile telephone number and the telephone number of your operator's customer services (including dialling code). Keep them with you in a safe place, separate from your mobile. If your phone is stolen you will be able to contact the network operator and request that they block your phone and/or SIM card.

Take an electrical adaptor for the charger plug, to keep your mobile telephone fully charged while you are abroad.