Are you afraid of receiving a huge phone bill upon your return from a holiday? If you take precautions, there is nothing to fear. Here are 10 tips on how to use mobile devices safely abroad.
1. Before travelling, always make sure you back up all the files, emails and pictures that exist only on your mobile devices. This way, if an accident occurs, you have them as copies on an external hard drive or in the cloud.
2. Double check that automatic data roaming is turned off (both on your smartphone and tablet, if it is able to run on 3G network), so that you can decide when you want to be online. Apps will therefore not be roaming without you being aware of it. (See also How to turn off 3G and mobile data on an iPhone)
3. By downloading the Lonely Planet app, which includes offline maps and descriptions, you can plan places you want to visit whilst travelling without needing to use mobile data.
4. Do you need to find your way? Then load maps on your mobile devices via Wi-Fi before leaving the hotel. The GPS locaation service on your device still works when data roaming is turned off, as long as your smartphone or tablet has a GPS receiver, of course.
5. When travelling outside the EU, be extra careful not to turn on data roaming. Disable roaming and 3G: use WI-Fi instead. Generally I recommend you use your smartphones and tablets on Wi-Fi only when outside the EU, as both data and calling charges are extremely high.
6. There are fewer reasons to be nervous about using your phone within the EU. An agreement from 2012 states that European phone companies must meet the agreed maximum prices. A call to phones within the EU costs 29 cents per minute (25p), whilst receiving one is fixed at 8 cents per minute (7p). According to the agreement, the roaming costs will keep decreasing in both July 2013 and July 2014. See all the prices from the agreement below.
7. Move your email app to the last home page on your phone, so that you do not instinctively open it. At the moment the data price per megabyte within EU is 70 cents, but if your smartphone or tablet starts downloading mails with attachments, it can become quite expensive.
8. No matter where in the world you are, always be careful when connecting to public networks – especially the ones without security protection. It is relatively easy for hackers to intercept your confidential information on those networks, and worst case steal your money. Don't use mobile banking apps, for example.
9. Download a security app on both your smartphone and tablet - particularly Android devices - so that you are better protected if you lose them. Most security apps can locate devices and remotely block and delete important files.
10. Always use a password which consists of both numbers and letters, making it more difficult for criminals to unlock your devices.
Here is a table of the maximum prices for calls within the EU:
About the author
Janus R. Nielsen, CEO and security expert of MYSecurityCenter, that provides antivirus and PC optimisation software for home users. At www.mysecuritycenter.com you can try the different packages out for free.