Did you hear about the lawyer who downloaded The Apprentice on her mobile while holidaying in France? You didn't? Well try not to laugh but she was actually hit with a £2,550 phone bill. In fact our calculating brief managed to avoid having to pay, on the grounds that she was never told specifically that her tariff didn't apply abroad. Either way however, it highlights the dangers of using your mobile abroad.
Having just booked a holiday myself, I like many of you are looking forward to jetting off somewhere for some sun, sea and sangria. However, as much as I might like to think that I'll be able to switch off from everything, I know that along with my passport, wallet and swimming trunks one of the first things I'll pack is my mobile. Determined not to be hit with a slap to the face in the form of an extortionate phone bill on my return I've been brushing up on how to keep the cost to a minimum.
Vodafone customers will be dancing in the streets of Lisbon, Madrid, Paris or any other European country with news that the operator is scrapping all roaming charges in 35 European countries (and Australia and New Zealand) until the end of August. What this basically means is that you will be able to call home from your far off destination for the same rate as you would if calling from down the street. It's also worth noting that should you receive such a call from a friend or family member informing you of what a great time they are having while you are stuck at home, you can always hang up on them.
None of the other major operators have followed suit, but it's certainly worth speaking to them as nearly all offer some sort of service to help reduce your roaming rates. O2 for example provides the International Traveller Service (ITS) free for any customer on tariffs with 600 free minutes or more, and £2.99 a month for all other pay monthly customers. This O2 says, can save you up to 80% on international calls. 3 is another operator that provides a cheap alternative when you find yourself in a country with a 3 sister network (Hong Kong and Ireland to name but two). The 3 Like Home service enables you to use your current call and text allowance to call standard UK landlines.
However, you do have another option. A global or international SIM card can be brought for the simple purpose of calling home from abroad. There's plenty on offer, just type in "Global SIM cards" and hit that Google search key for a list. The one I'm thinking of going for is from GO-SIM. Purchase the SIM for as little as £10 and you'll avoid being charged for any incoming calls in over 75 countries, while rates for both calling and texting from abroad shave pennies off even the most competitive of operator rates. There's also no expiry date so you're under no pressure to use up all your credit.
So passport? Check. Travellers cheques? Check. Swimming shorts? Check. International global SIM? Well not yet, but I have got just under two months to admin that little detail.