Ten Travel Tips for Staying Connected
By Marianne Schwab | Best Travel Deals Tips Blog
We live in a 24/7 world and staying connected when you're on a cruise vacation is essential for most people these days. The problem is that many people believe they can use their phones and computers overseas the same way they do at home, but you can't. In fact, there are Five Things You Need to Know About Using Your Cell Phone Overseas
which we cover under
Cell Phones Abroad
. If you’re like me, you can’t afford to be disconnected from your business or family when you travel and my Blackberry has been an absolute godsend (especially internationally). There's a lot you need to know before you leave for your cruise that will not only help you stay connected, but also save you big bucks when it comes to using your cell phone, Blackberry, or iPhone on cruise vacations.
1. Call your mobile phone customer service BEFORE you travel.
You should always contact your wireless provider prior to leaving town for cruise vacations for several reasons and especially if you'll be traveling outside of the United States. This includes a U.S. Territory like Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the U.S. states of Hawaii and Alaska. If you don’t find out the costs before you travel, you could be in for major shell shock if you use your mobile phone or smart phone while you're away. A friend of mine went to Israel and was greeted by a $1600 cell phone bill when she arrived home to Los Angeles.
2. Find out how much your smart phone charges will be for emails and internet access BEFORE you travel. Did you know that you can pre-negotiate a package plan prior to leaving on your cruise vacation? Call your mobile phone company and ask to speak to customer service to find out what plans your mobile phone company has that would benefit you while you're away (special texting plans, network connections, etc.). Most companies will let you temporarily switch to these plans for the duration of your trip, but don’t forget to call them when you return to verify they've reinstated your prior plan. I use Verizon and they've always been very accommodating and helpful in arranging this for my international trips.
3. Pre-negotiate a package deal for smart phone services and texting for time abroad. If you need to stay in touch with family or the office while you're away with your smart phone, make sure your wireless provider to pre-negotiate a special package for your time abroad and/or find out what you will be charged for email access, plus sending and receiving emails. For my Blackberry service, I pre-negotiated an email plan for the duration of my time overseas and my text messaging was charged $.50 to send a text and $.05 for each text received. Some mobile phone companies have international texting packages at a reduced rate if you need to stay in touch with friends and family and can be your most economical way to stay connected.
4. Using your mobile phone abroad can cost up to $3.50 per minute. When you call your wireless service provider, check your service plan and find out what additional roaming or network charges you may incur if you use your mobile phone while you're on your cruise ship vacation.
5. Find out what technology will be available to you on your cruise ship BEFORE you sail. If you need to stay in touch with family or the office while you're away, make sure you contact the cruise line to determine what internet access will be available to you.
6. Internet cafes on board a ship can cost up to $.50 per minute or more. Typical internet usage rates on a cruise ship internet café will be approximately $.50 per minute but if you buy a three-hour package for the duration of the cruise ship vacation, it may average out to about $.35 per minute. If you're traveling throughout Europe on a cruise, there are usually internet cafes you can pop into for very reasonable rates, I personally prefer to know where I can get access prior to leaving as I need to stay in touch with my family, my production company and my clients while I'm away.
7. Bring your laptop or netbook if you need to edit and send documents. If you need to create, edit or send documents while you’re away, then you need to bring your own laptop or netbook since most cruise ship internet cafes do not allow you to connect a flash drive through a USB port. There are generally about a dozen “hot spots” throughout the ship where you can use the on board internet service.
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