Tag Archives: Data Roaming

Cruises are a fantastic way to explore the world. The flexibility of a cruise means you can pack in multiple destinations in one vacation, plus get to relax and unwind on a luxury floating resort, with all the bells and whistles to keep you occupied for days!

The typical cost of a weeklong cruise is under $2000 per person but the costs can quickly rise once you get on board. You might think you’re purchasing an “all-inclusive” holiday but more often than not you’ll be paying extra for alcoholic drinks, dining outside the main buffet, shore excursions and even internet access. To avoid ending up like this Texan, who got charged $2700 by her cell phone provider for data roaming whilst on a cruise, we recommend you take note! Do your research

1. Do your research

Booking early could help you save a ton of money, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for those special offers online – sites like Cruisewatch.com will do all the hard work for you. Sometimes you’ll find the cheapest rates when you book up to a year in advance. Alternatively, if you’re not set on an exact cruise you could always try booking last minute. We would only recommend booking last minute if you’re happy to be flexible, are planning to go off-season and are okay with booking a (more than likely) non-refundable package.

2. Consider buying add-on packages ahead of your departure

This is one of our top tips for anyone wishing to curb their spending whilst onboard. You may not realise it but little treats like a massage or a meal at the fine dining restaurant can quickly add up. Cruise liners will offer you discounted rates for booking packages in advance, so check ahead of your travel. If you’re planning to drink (a lot of) alcohol on your cruise we would strongly recommend buying an all inclusive drinks package ahead of your cruise – as individual drink prices are notoriously high. Prices for all-inclusive drinks packages depend on your cruise liner but will typically be around $50-$60 per person. If you don’t want to book ahead, you could always research the peak and off-peak hours for bars, restaurants and the spa, when you’re more likely to receive a discount.

3. Pack the essentials

The last thing you want to be spending additional money on is to replace those essential items you forgot to pack. Toothpaste, shaving cream, shampoo and other daily toiletries will be charged at a premium on board, so it’s well worth taking your own. We also suggest making a list of every electronic device you’ll be taking with you and ensure you’ve packed all your chargers! You’ll also want to bring a power plug adaptor and a travel power strip as cabins typically only have one or two electrical outlets.

4. Explore the ports on your own

Whilst you may feel obliged to book excursions with your cruise liner, you can save a significant amount of money by simply doing a bit of research ahead of time and planning your own day trips. On average shore excursions, organized by your cruise liner, will cost you between $50 and $175 per person. You can use this guide to get some inspiration for port excursions.

5. Bring your own snacks

Most cruise ships will allow you to bring your own soft drinks and snacks on board for free, so why not stock up on your sweet and savory fixes and save some cash. You might also be lucky and have a cruise liner that operates a BYOB policy (like Carnival which allows you to bring cans or cartons less than 12 oz.) or even a small corkage, so check ahead and stock up on your favorite drinks.

6. Don’t over tip

Make sure you check your food and drinks bills before handing over a generous tip. A service charge of 10%-20% is almost always included, and, if it isn’t you can opt-in to an auto gratuity to make things fair and to allow you to budget accordingly.  On average you should be aiming to budget around $12 per person, per day for service charge. Do watch out for the added line at the bottom of your bill that asks for “additional gratuity”, as many passengers have gotten caught out and end up double tipping! That’s obviously not to say if you experienced stellar service that you shouldn’t tip generously! Here’s a useful guide to best practices in the cruise industry in case you’re still confused.

7. Stay away from the onboard Wi-fi

Wifi is unbelievably expensive on board cruise ships, where you can be spending close to a dollar per minute to surf the internet. It’s estimated that passengers spend $50-$100 per day connecting to the internet – meaning a week long cruise could add a whopping $700 to your bill (per person). You’ll also want to make sure you turn data roaming off on your mobile phone, as during your journey your phone may pick up international carriers and charge you before you even know it!

Tep understands that the internet is an essential for the modern traveller so we’ve developed an unlimited data plan that’s perfect for cruise holidays.

For just $9.95 per day, you can enjoy unlimited internet using our Tep portable wifi device. It’s perfect for couples or families too, with just one of our portable wifi’s you can connect up to 5 devices simultaneously (including your tablet, mobile phone and laptop). The device is compact and can fit in your pocket (or bag) and gives you access to the internet in over 80 countries worldwide, meaning you’ll no longer have to worry about exorbitant data roaming charges or having to buy a SIM card in every port you visit. For more information or to buy/rent your own visit us here.

Last year Tep released a post on everything you need to know about the EU’s planned roaming surcharge ban. In case you missed the news, the European Commission has decided to abolish additional charges on calls, texts and data for Europeans travelling within the EU. Hail the end of shock data roaming bills – or is it?

For anyone who’s hoping to capitalize on cheap data roaming this summer, we’d strongly recommend you fully read and understand the fine print, which is regrettably rather complicated. Alternatively, you could just read on and let us do the hard work for you.

In December, the European Commission released another statement following a vote by Member States’ representatives, which clarified that:

…the EU will put an end to extra charges when all travellers are calling, texting and surfing abroad from their mobile phones and devices, while ensuring that the most competitive domestic offers remain attractive.

What does it mean?

Now that it’s official, the ban on extra charges will come into effect from June 15th (2017) and will allow EU citizens to pay similar rates to what they would at home, plus there’s already a cap on data, call and text charges until the ban comes into effect (which you can read about in a previous post here).

The good news

‘Roam like at Home’ is the new initiative that will be adopted by EU countries from this summer, which will allow you to enjoy the same call and text rates as you would at home. Great news if you’re on an unlimited calls and texts package, as you won’t be charged a cent extra. There is however, a fair usage policy on the initiative, one that requires you to remain in your home country more than you’re travelling for, in any 4-month billing period. If you’re planning to escape to the continent or go backpacking for a few months then it’s more than likely that you won’t be eligible for these rates.

Another plus point, you’ll be able to use your home mobile network provider in over 30 countries (full list of countries here) – including the UK (for now!).

The not so good news

Unfortunately, the changes aren’t good news for everyone, especially data hungry users on unlimited data plans at home (cough, millennials, cough). ‘Roam like at Home’ works differently for data usage and depends on whether you are a prepaid or monthly postpaid subscriber. If you recharge your phone with credit, you’ll be entitled to use data up to the amount of credit you have remaining, charged at the wholesale roaming data price. So to use the Commission’s example, if you have €13 of credit when you go on holiday you will be charged 0.85 cent/MB (the wholesale cap) which gives you approximately 1.5GB of data to use. This essentially works out to €8-€9 per GB of data – on the pretty expensive side.

If you’re on a monthly contract you’ll receive twice the amount of data “equivalent to your monthly contract in wholesale roaming data price caps”. To translate the EU’s jargon, that means you will be charged the wholesale cap of 0.85 cent/MB and can use up to two times the amount you pay each month. To use the Commission’s example again, if you have an unlimited calls, text and data package for €70 per month, you will be entitled to €140 worth of data charged at the wholesale rate, which in this case would equate to 16.4 GB of data. In practice this will mean you’ll be forking up just over €4 per GB of data you use – which is still pretty hefty, especially when you consider streaming Netflix in HD uses 3GB of data per hour!

Another downside to the ban is that it won’t include a few European holiday hotspots including Croatia, Switzerland and soon will not include the UK (pending their official removal from the EU). For the complete list of excluded countries check here.

How to avoid getting charged too much for using data abroad?

Thankfully Tep’s on hand to give you the best value for money when it comes to data usage abroad. Unlike your home network provider, Tep’s wireless device is not restricted by the EU’s new guidelines. You can use your Tep device in over 80 countries worldwide, including the seven EU countries excluded by the new laws. The device also gives you UNLIMITED internet for up to 5 users simultaneously and is super duper portable – it can fit in a pocket or handbag and you won’t even notice it’s there. That means you can browse the web, make video calls or stream movies to your heart’s content without ever fearing a horror bill when you return home.

And the best bit – there’s no hidden charges, the device costs of €8.95 per day, meaning you’re almost guaranteed to save money and don’t ever have to fuss over the EU’s tricky and complicated fine print.

Travelling is the ultimate way to literally and figuratively expand your horizons, but it’s also extremely good medicine for your mind, body and soul. In fact, frequent travel can help you de-stress, improve your personality and can even keep your heart healthier. Here are our top 5 reasons to go travelling as much and as often as you can.

1. Travel boosts your immune system

When you leave the comfort of your home and step out into the world, you’re also exposing yourself to new and foreign bacteria. As a defense mechanism, your body naturally produces antibodies that help to protect you, and over time, your immune system develops resistance and gets stronger. The more you travel, the more your body is exposed and the stronger your immune system will become. Some well-seasoned travellers even swear by travelling as the ‘best probiotic on the planet’. Whilst we are by no means suggesting you forget basic hygiene and take unnecessary risks, we do think that a little dirt can do more good than harm.

2. Travelling improves your heart health

Believe it or not, travelling can actually decrease your chances of getting heart disease. A study conducted in the U.S. found that men and women who travelled more frequently were less likely to develop heart problems compared with those who vacationed less often. Amongst women it was found that heart disease risk could be reduced by as much as 50% and around 32% in men. Great news for anyone looking to justify their next holiday, as it could literally be giving you the gift of extended life.

3. Vacationing keeps your mind healthy

When you travel you’re constantly challenging your mind, meeting new people, experiencing different cultures and pushing your boundaries. All of these have been shown to increase your concentration, memory and overall cognitive flexibility. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published research that proved that travelling improves your personality across the five overarching domains (emotional stability, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness). In addition, travel has even been linked to people being more outgoing, optimistic, interesting and just generally more awesome!

4. Holiday = ultimate stress buster

It may be one of the most obvious benefits on our list, but it’s definitely one not to underestimate the importance of. Rest and relaxation whilst on holiday helps your body to rejuvenate and recharge. It doesn’t take much for down time to make a big difference either, almost 90% of holiday makers surveyed said they felt a significant reduction in stress levels after just a few days away.

5. Build stronger relationships on vacation

Solo travelling can be great for helping you find yourself, but when you travel with your loved ones, holidays take on a new meaning. You can build even stronger connections with your partner, family or friends simply through your shared vacation memories. For couples, travelling frequently can be hugely beneficial, with 63% of people believing that it helps them stay together longer. For families there are benefits too, 49% of adults claim they still have vivid (and happy) recollections of their family holidays, showing just how important it can be to make sure you take your family away every now and again.

Hopefully this post has left you with no doubts as to the amazing health and wellbeing benefits of wanderlusting. To summarize, travelling is almost guaranteed to help you live a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life – and could even help you live longer! Don’t forget to take along your very own Tep portable wifi device to get the most out of your time away. The device will help you reduce stress whilst on vacation, you won’t have to worry about huge data roaming bills when you return home (it’s just $9.95 per day for unlimited wifi for 5 devices) and you’ll never have to worry about getting lost as you’ll have access to the internet on the move! To buy or rent a device click here or for more travel inspiration check out our blog here.

2016 has been a pretty hectic year in terms of newsworthy events, but the highlight of the summer was arguably the Olympic Games held in Rio de Janeiro. Being the first South American nation to host the prestigious event, there was a significant amount of pressure on Brazil to deliver a Games like no other. Whilst the lead up to the Games, and the event itself, was shrouded some in controversy, Rio managed to pull off 16 straight days of sporting entertainment. There was everything from world record breakers, huge upsets, accidents and spectacular displays of athletic prowess.

Every four years the finest athletes from across the globe compete against one another for a slice of Olympic glory – and hopefully a medal or two (or six if you’re Michael Phelps). This year there were 41 sports on offer, from archery and volleyball all the way to Greco-Roman wrestling. As usual, the crowd favorites did not disappoint with football, basketball, athletics, swimming and gymnastics, all giving their share of thrills and spills. Here is Tep’s run down of the highlights you might have missed.

The Sporting Highlights

The Games began with a spectacular opening ceremony that saw fireworks redecorate the skyline above the iconic Maracana stadium, in a celebration of Brazilian heritage. There were 206 nations participating, from Olympic heavy-weights China, USA and Russia all the way to the tiny nation island of Nauru.

2016 also saw the addition of #TeamRefugee, a group of 10 athletes chosen by the International Olympic Committee to represent refugees all over the world. Yusra Mardini, a swimmer and a member of team Refugee, had a particularly remarkable story. She used her talent to rescue 20 people, after their boat started to capsize whilst crossing the sea, and was forced to swim for over 3 hours in order to steer the boat to safety. Whilst she didn’t pick up a medal in the games, she did win her heat in the Women’s 100m Butterfly and served as a beacon of hope for refugees that anything is possible.

The Olympic stars were out in force in Rio including ‘king of speed’ Usain Bolt and ‘flying fish’ Michael Phelps. Both men, who are world record holders in their respective events, managed to retain their titles and put on one last incredible show for fans. Bolt picked up gold medals in Men’s 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m relay and Phelps, already the most decorated Olympian in history, took his Olympic medal tally to 28 with an outstanding performance with 5 gold medals and 1 silver in Rio. The two athletes who are now both over 30 have officially retired from Olympic sports but have left a legacy, and some pretty impressive records, for the generations to come.

Team USA dominated in the Women’s gymnastics with a win for the team but the star of the show was undoubtedly Simone Biles, who racked up an amazing 4 gold medals and 1 bronze. Dubbed ‘one of the greatest gymnasts of all time’ Biles even has her own signature move named after her, which is an absolute crowd favorite.

Another impressive woman to come from Team USA was Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab whilst competing in the Olympic Games. Muhammad represented the U.S. in sabre fencing and managed to secure a bronze medal whilst also combating multiple negative stereotypes of Muslims, African Americans and women.

The Rio Games saw over 70 world records being broken with one of the most nail biting being the Men’s 400m final in which South African Wayde van Niekerk smashed Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old record by 0.15 seconds. Another impressive record breaking event came in the Men’s 100m Butterfly where 21-year-old Singaporean, Joseph Schooling, beat his idol Michael Phelps in the pool – just 8 years after they met at a training camp.

Other Highlights from the Games

Close to a third of all nations that compete in the Olympics have never won a single medal but for Fiji and Puerto Rico, Rio 2016 officially ended their medal dry spell. The Men’s Rugby Seven’s Team from the island of Fiji managed to take away gold and with it, bring home the country’s first ever medal. Likewise, Monica Puig held off Angelique Kerber of Germany in the Women’s Tennis finals to clinch the title and Puerto Rico’s first ever gold medal.

The Host nation was under a huge amount of pressure to deliver on gold medals this Olympic Games and luckily they did not disappoint in two of the country’s best-loved sports, football and volleyball. Brazil’s Men’s football team defeated Germany to take the gold medal in football – and after 2014’s spectacular 7-1 World Cup defeat to the Germans, the Brazilian team finally got their own back. The Men’s Volleyball team also sealed the deal on the final day to the delight of the local spectators and brought the country’s gold medal tally to 7.

The Rio 2016 Games will also be remembered for some exceptional displays of sportsmanship. In the Women’s 5,000-meter heat New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin tripped and fell mid-race and took down another runner, Abbey D’Agostino from Team USA. Instead of simply getting up and continuing the race, the American D’Agostino decided to help her fellow competitor up and later on when she faltered Hamblin stepped in and helped her across the finish line. Whilst neither went on to win the race, both athletes received a ‘fair play’ award for their sportsmanship.

One of the most iconic photos to come out of the Olympics was this photo between two gymnasts from North Korea and South Korea. The simple act of taking a selfie between Lee Eun Ju (S. Korea) and Hong Un Jong (N. Korea) transcended the years of political tension between their two countries and showed that the Olympics can truly bring unity to the world.

Tokyo 2020

The next Olympic games are due to be held in Tokyo in September 2020. If you’re planning to head out to Japan to witness first hand the magical atmosphere that the Olympics brings, we suggest you go prepared to capture the action. Your mobile phone can be the easiest way to navigate the various venues, keep up with the latest sporting news, live stream world records being broken and hopefully even snap selfies with the Olympians themselves!

Unless you want to end up like one of Japan’s Olympic athletes this year – who racked up a $5,000 dollar bill whilst using his mobile phone playing Pokémon Go in Brazil – we suggest you arm yourself with your very own Tep Wireless device. The device works in over 80 countries worldwide and gives you seamless access to the internet without ever having to change SIM cards. The device costs a fixed amount per day ($9.95) and means you’ll never have to stress about crazy roaming charges. The device can also be used by up to 5 people simultaneously, so is a super cost effective way for you, your friends and family to feed your every data need.

If working from anywhere in the world, at a time of your choosing, sounds like your idea of heaven you are not alone. With millennials being hailed as an ‘asset-light’ generation increasingly looking to fill their virtual possession portfolio with life experiences rather than accumulating material wealth, the term digital nomad has never had more relevance.

Savvy citizens are moving away from traditional forms of employment where they are limited to an office space and ‘Groundhog Day’ desk between 9am and 5pm five days a week. The working population are both seeing and seeking the opportunities out there and engaging in a more free-spirited approach to work, where earning potential seeks to become a life experience embedded in your personal life rather than a separate entity that you have to endure in order to survive.

A CHANGING REALITY

Increased connectivity around the world has disrupted the traditional linear model of how the world works – people are thinking outside the box and making decisions to suit themselves rather than follow a generational dogma of the predictable path to success. Success is no longer simply about having a four-bedroomed house, 2.4 kids, a dog and a fabulous car. It is about living a life of freedom crammed full of extraordinary experiences with extraordinary people and digital nomads are those who are embracing this enlightened reality and possibility for a life less ordinary.

Digital hot spots, portable tablets and laptops, a plethora of marketing options through social media, and an increased desire for freedom, have all conspired to make this market grow exponentially. Millennials are embracing an opportunity denied to their grandparents of a work-life balance like no other. The digital nomad lifestyle encompasses flexibility, variety and crucially adaptability. It’s moving away from the job-for-life mentality and working to an assumption that people are now more self-reliant than ever and if anything, they are loving it rather than fearing it. In fact, from being seen as something exotic and obtainable to only the fortunate few, the digital nomad lifestyle is integrating into the mainstream with this year seeing the first Digital Nomad conference taking place in Berlin.

SO WHAT’S THE MAIN REASON TO BECOME A DIGITAL NOMAD?

It’s a low-maintenance, low-cost entry to business that appeals on so many levels – it’s lightweight and portable and eliminates many of the stresses associated with a more traditional lifestyle such as rent or mortgage, furniture and household goods, endless bills, mounting car costs ad infinitum.

The joy of the digital nomad lifestyle is that it creates flexibility meaning you can work abroad if you so choose, or simply hang out in your local café with your favourite work buddies. It’s all about the life that you want to create and your reasons for it, including the vision you have of that world. With technology literally at our fingertips, we can communicate around the world, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and anyone with access to a computer, tablet or cell phone could be a potential customer or client of the digital nomad. And we here at Tep  – being passionate arbiters of travel and connection – embrace this reality wholeheartedly and want to keep you in touch when you need to be and most importantly when you choose to be.

It’s not even particularly difficult to start out working life as a digital nomad. As long as you have access to a laptop/tablet/cell phone and a WiFi signal, you are almost good to go. You can choose to start by buying an existing online business (albeit if you have a little capital to invest); going freelance – for example being a writer, take a course in online digital marketing, becoming an online trainer or mentor in your area of expertise, sell on eBay or train to become an expert in social media posting, promoting your lifestyle and actually making money out of it – you might not even need training for this if you are a millennial who was born without a silver spoon but instead a tablet on tap – you may have mastered the minutiae of social media etiquette and be able to create your own social media brand with very little expenditure required. The truth is there are numerous ways to get started if workplace autonomy is what you require.

We live on a planet containing approximately 7.4 billion people and counting and around 40 per cent have regular access to the internet. The fabric of the internet is woven securely into our daily lives and we purchase and research on an increasingly frequent basis. We want answers – it’s out there at the click of a mouse or touch of a phone screen. And so the creative digital nomad taps into this massive market and seeks out his or her niche in this teeming sea. Technology has made this market super easy to access and the only thing possibly standing in your way is a dodgy internet connection! And that’s where Tep has got it covered. With a handheld device that creates your very own wifi hotspot, it has to be the digital nomad’s ideal travelling companion.

EMBRACING THE LIFESTYLE

To embrace the digital nomad lifestyle, the essential component (after your laptop/tablet) is an uninterrupted wifi connection, which is what makes Tep Wireless a match made in heaven for the digital nomad. Teps’ pocket WiFi is a wireless modem that connects any wifi device to 3G internet. The beauty lies in the fact it requires no installation, cables or software and you can, if necessary, connect up to five devices at any one time. And, critically, you can enjoy up to eight hours of uninterrupted work time before recharging – giving you the length of an average office day to do your thing but most brilliantly at the time of your choosing – so if burning the midnight oil is your thing in far-flung places, digital nomad-ing with Tep is no problem. To find out more about how Tep could be part of your digital nomad lifestyle click here.

Tep offers you the safest, securest and most cost effective way of accessing the internet when you’re away. For one fixed daily cost of just $9.50, you can enjoy truly unlimited data for up to 5 devices on the go (the device is pocket sized and works in over 80 countries worldwide). With Tep you’ll never have to worry about returning to a shock bill or being stranded without access to the web – so you can leave the drama to the writers!

If you need a break from reality or just need to recharge your batteries a novel can be a great way to escape to another location, perhaps one you never knew existed. However, there’s nothing quite like exploring the actual destinations you’ve only read about, the one’s that, once upon a time, influenced the best literary minds to put pen to paper.

Particularly for bookworms and budding writers this post will give you a glimpse into the exciting real locations that gave rise to works that have inspired generations.  In this whistle-stop tour of the literary greats that have made us wanderlust for Europe we have paired 5 great novels with the location, they’re set in to get you reading and travelling this year!

Wuthering Heights

Set in: Yorkshire, England

“I wish I were out of doors—I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy […] I’m sure I should be myself were I once among the heather on those hills. Open the window again wide […].” 

  • Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

We begin our tour in the west Yorkshire moors, which sets the scene for Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (and was also the inspiration for her other two sisters Charlotte and Anne). The story is set in the actual area that the author grew up, in northern England, and tells a tale of love and revenge (in no particular order). The Moors are vast, wild and scattered with heather and are truly as picturesque as Brontë describes them.

You can visit “Brontë Country” but you’ll have to tread off the beaten tourist path to get there! Located on the outskirts of Bradford, you can drive or take the train to Haworth (the nearest station). The trek is definitely worthwhile, as you’ll get to walk the very same moors that the famous Brontë sisters would have as girls. This article gives you a full overview of the best route to take if you’d like to explore the scenery that inspired the book and also includes a pit stop at the Brontë Parsonage museum.

Dubliners

Set in: Dublin, Ireland

“When the short days of winter came, dusk fell before we had well eaten our dinners. When we met in the street the houses had grown somber. The space of sky above us was the color of ever-changing violet and towards it the lamps of the street lifted their feeble lanterns. The cold air stung us and we played till our bodies glowed. Our shouts echoed in the silent street.”

  • Dubliners, James Joyce

This collection of short stories by James Joyce has inspired many to see Ireland’s capital with new eyes. The stories all take place in early 20th Century Dublin and showcase the lives of the middle class. Like many authors, Joyce’s work centered on a location he knew like the back of his hand and many of the stories featured in Dubliners can be re-lived simply by walking Dublin’s streets.

Dublin is a real gem of a city, which, although small, is filled with plenty of delights including cobbled streets and quintessential Irish pubs (we recommend Kehoe’s) and is fittingly bestowed with the title of UNESCO ‘City of Literature’. If you really want to soak in the literary history you can try the ‘Dubliners walking tour’ organized by the James Joyce Centre or if you’re feeling in a more boozy mood, the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl is a great way to take in the culture with a side of beer.

The Sun Also Rises

Set in: Pamplona, Spain

“The things that happened could only have happened during a fiesta. Everything became quite unreal finally and it seemed as though nothing could have any consequences. It seemed out of place to think of consequences during the fiesta.”

– The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

Often described as one of Ernest Hemingway’s greatest works, The Sun Also Rises charts the journey of American and British expatriates who travel to Pamplona in Spain to enjoy the annual Festival of San Fermín. They watch the famous encierro or ‘running of the bulls’ and are consumed by the dancing, drinking and debauchery of this eternal fiesta city.

Pamplona was one of Hemingway’s first obsessions and became known worldwide for its famous festival thanks to his work. The most notorious element of the festival is the encierro, where a group of adrenaline junkies run in front of bulls through city’s narrow streets. The event is as dangerous as it sounds, so we would really recommend you view from a safe distance (since records began in 1910 around 13 people have been killed in the running). To book a place at the event we suggest The Running of the Bulls Travel. The city is located in the north of Spain (about 60 km away from the border with France) and is very easily accessible by air or train. Many of Hemingway’s haunts can be visited today including Bar Txoko, Hotel La Perla and Café Iruñathis guide will give you a complete list of all the places he would have visited over the course of 9 visits he enjoyed in Pamplona!

The Three Musketeers

Set in: Paris, France

“I came to Paris with four écus in my pocket, and I’d have fought with anybody who told me I was in no condition to buy the Louvre.”

  • The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas

This classic historical novel recounts the adventures of the three Musketeers (Athos, Porthos, Aramis) and D’Artagnan in their quest to protect the Kingdom of France. The novel, written by Alexandre Dumas, is set in early 17th Century Paris and many of the scenes are based on real locations.

Much of the story takes place in the Luxembourg area of Paris and you can visit the streets where the characters lived including D’Artagan’s house on Rue Fossoyeur (now called Rue Servandoni) and the Musketeers headquarters on Rue du Bac. This handy map charts all of the real locations that were mentioned in the book, so you can plan a tour of Paris through the eyes of the Musketeers without an official guide. From September of this year, you’ll also be able to enjoy the musical remake of the novel at Le Dome de Paris. We highly recommend visiting Le Pot de Terre – a Musketeer themed restaurant very close to the pantheon – for a bite to eat. For more information on visiting the ‘city of love’ check out one of our previous posts here.

Death in Venice

Set in: Venice, Italy

“Yet whether the pilgrim air the stranger wore kindled his fantasy or whether some other physical or psychical influence came in play, he could not tell; but he felt the most surprising consciousness of a widening or inward barriers, a kind of vaulting unrest, a youthfully ardent thirst for distant scenes—a feeling so lovely and so new, or at least so long ago outgrown and forgot, that he stood there rooted to the spot, his eyes on the ground and his hands clasped behind him, exploring these sentiments of his, their bearing and scope.”

  • Death in Venice, Thomas Mann

Death in Venice is a story of a writer (Gustav von Aschenbach) who travels to the “floating city” to break the suffering caused by his writer’s block. The novella, originally written in German by author Thomas Mann, was highly acclaimed and has since been made into a movie, opera and ballet.

Venice has plenty to offer the inquisitive tourist including gondolier rides along the canal, amazing cuisine, shopping and, of course, a timely beauty that has inspired some literary giants including Marco Polo, Shakespeare and Thomas Mann himself. The author actually stayed in the city’s Grand Hotel des Bains on the Venice Lido (both of which feature in his book) whilst writing his novella. Whilst you cannot visit the hotel anymore (as it has sadly closed down) you can walk along the Lido (a 7-mile long sandbar) that is famous for hosting the annual Venice Film Festival. Take a free walking tour of this water city or take in the sites from your very own Gondola cruise.

We hope this list has given you some inspiration for your next trip abroad (or to your local Barnes & Noble). Our top tip for exploring new cities is to make sure you always have access to the internet whilst you’re on holiday. This will help you check those trusted Trip Advisor reviews before you have a pint at James Joyce’s local pub, allow you to get perfect snaps of the bulls in Pamplona, and also let Google maps guide you through the very same canals that Marco Polo wandered as a young man.

Tep offers you the safest, securest and most cost effective way of accessing the internet when you’re away. For one fixed daily cost of $9.50, you can enjoy truly unlimited data for up to 5 devices on the go (the device is pocket sized and works in over 80 countries worldwide). With Tep you’ll never have to worry about returning to a shock bill or being stranded without access to the web – so you can leave the drama to the writers! To rent or buy a Tep portable wifi device click here.

Technology has made its way into the heart of modern life. Just 24 years ago the smartphone didn’t even exist and now 2 billion people worldwide own one. The only problem with the massive infiltration of technology is the very technical language that comes with it.

Even if you get your hands on the latest gadgets, there’s no way of explaining to your friends and family why you decided to splash out on that new upgrade when you have no clue what words like, 4G, ISP and MB mean. Most people can recognize those buzz words, but how many actually know what they mean?

In this post we will be deciphering some of the technical jargon associated with your mobile phone and internet connection. Let’s remember you’ll have to be able to keep up with the next generation – who are practically born with an iPad in their hands – so get learning!

Here is a list of the most commonly used technical terms with a less technical and easy to understand explanation of what they mean:

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be pushed across a channel. Imagine a stream, if it is narrow, only a bit of water can flow through, however, if you have a wide river (think: the Nile), lots of water can flow through. This is the same with bandwidth, the larger the bandwidth, the more data can flow through and the faster you’ll be able to access the internet!

GSM (“Global System of Mobile Communication”)

GSM stands for Global System for Mobile communications, it’s a digital technology used for transmitting mobile voice and data. It has managed to penetrate 70% of the global communications network and has over 1 billion active users. If you are connected to a network, chances are it’s based off of GSM.

GPRS (“General Packet Radio Service”)

GPRS was one of the first commercial communication channels, and is built on the GSM network. It had a limited amount of data you could push through which is why SMS used to have a 144 character limit. You may remember once having to go back through your text messages and replace ‘you’ with ‘u’ just to save those precious characters! Whilst it’s old, it is still widely used.

EDGE (“Enhanced Data for Global Evolution”)

Edge, like GPRS, is also built on top of the GSM network, however the key difference is that it allowed users to access the internet for the very first time. When it launched 10 years ago, this was cutting edge technology that facilitated much faster data transmission. However, when compared with today’s data download speeds, Edge is very slow, so when you see an ‘E’ at the top of your phone you’re likely to avoid trying to connect.

3G (“3rd Generation”)

Until 2010, 3G was the fastest speed available anywhere in the world. With a 3G connection you can achieve up to 3 Megabits per second of speed – to put that into context, you could download and listen to one song on YouTube every minute. This leap in technology helped pushed mobile browsing to the forefront – finally people could browse their facebook feed unhindered by slow internet!

4G (“4th Generation”)

4G is the next level up from 3G in terms of speed. A mobile phone with 4G available simply means you’ll be able to enjoy the fastest upload and download speeds available currently. 4G connections are typically 5 times faster than 3G – and also likely to be more expensive. You’ll also need to make sure you mobile is “4G enabled” before you can enjoy the faster connections, so make sure to check before you upgrade!

ISP (“Internet Service Provider”)

Think about every internet-connected device; they have to get their internet from somewhere right? These are the ISPs, Internet Service Providers, they supply the gateway to the internet. Interestingly enough, they don’t actually provide the internet, they just allow you to access it from wherever you are. To give you an example, imagine you want to get to a building, you’ll need to have a road first in order to get there. In this example the ISP would be the road that leads you to the building, which represents a website on the internet.

Network Infrastructures

This describes the hardware and software resources of a network that allow your computer, mobile phone and router to communicate with each other so that you can carry on using the internet.

Router

A router is a networking device that is used to relay data packets from a source to a destination. The entire internet functions on sending these data packets from one location to another. As an end user, you can find a router in your home, which receives data from a source somewhere, and relays it to your computer.

Kilobytes (KB)

A kilobyte is a unit of measurement of the size of information on your mobile or computer. A kilobyte is made up of 1,000 bytes – to give you some context, 1 single byte is equivalent to 1 typed letter on your computer. In terms of data usage, an email, without attachments could use between 3 KB – 20 KB and a social media update with a photo could be up to 500 KB of data.

Megabytes (MB)

A megabyte is bigger than a kilobyte and 1MB is roughly 1,000 kilobytes. To give you an idea of how much data 1 MB is, a song on YouTube will use around 1 megabyte per minute.

Gigabytes (GB)

A gigabyte, or 1,000MB, is the largest of the units of measurement that we typically associate with data usage on mobile phones. 1 GB of data could get you approximately 280 app downloads on your mobile or let you watch a movie on Netflix. As data usage varies so greatly, depending on what you use your mobile for, you can expect to get through anywhere between 3GB and 10GB per month – or even more if you’re sharing with the family!

What is roaming?

Normally you are charged by your ISPs rates when you use your mobile phone. ISPs are typically country or region specific, and because they don’t operate globally they cannot provide you with cellular connection everywhere. Your ISP will have deals with other ISPs globally to ensure they can cover their customers in areas beyond their reach. Roaming occurs when you connect to a network, not owned by your ISP but that it has a deal with. It’s usually a lot more expensive, as your ISP will be passing on the extra costs to you the customer!

When does mobile roaming happen?

When you’re at home using your mobile to browse the internet, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will either charge you for the amount of data you use or they will charge you a fixed monthly fee for using a set amount of data that rolls over every month. For example you could be charged $5 per 100Mbs of data or $50 per month for 1Gb of data to use. Mobile roaming occurs whenever you leave the area covered by your ISP, usually when you go on holiday, and you connect to the internet. Mobile roaming can be very costly as ISPs can charge a huge premium for using your mobile phone abroad – with some horror stories of customers being landed with shock bills they didn’t expect when returning from their holiday. Check out our post on how to avoid data roaming here before you travel!

To avoid getting lumped with huge roaming costs you should definitely take a look at getting your own portable wifi device. A portable wifi device allows you to connect to the internet from wherever you are using a mobile data connection to give you your own ‘hotspot’ or wifi connection.

Instead of having to pay a premium to use the internet when you’re abroad or risk your data on dodgy public wifi, with Tep’s device, you can enjoy your holiday with the comfort that you’ll know exactly how much you’re paying for a safe, secure and reliable connection. The device costs just $9.95 per day to rent for unlimited internet access for up to 5 people at the same time! No more fighting over who gets to use the internet, as everyone can enjoy it – and all on the go. Tep’s got you covered in over 80 countries worldwide so you won’t even have to worry about needing to change SIM cards or buy a different package. It’s one fixed daily cost for your entire holiday! To find out more or to rent or buy a Tep wireless device click here.

Long stay holidays are the perfect way to submerse yourself in an exotic new world and actually find out what it’s like to live like a local; there’s only so much you can get from 5 star resorts with pristine private beaches and packed hostels in the middle of a bustling cities! In order to truly experience your destination away from the overpriced tourist hotspots, you’ll need to venture off the beaten track. With just a little research and some cash to burn you could be enjoying weeks or even months of authentic adventures in a new found home. Here’s our pick of the best options for travelers who want to lodge abroad:

The Homestay – Your home away from home

If you’re looking for the real deal when you go abroad, there’s nothing quite like staying with a local family. Homestay is a great site to check out if you’re looking to return each day to a delicious home cooked meal instead of an all you can eat buffet. They advertise homestays all over the world and are very reasonably priced for long trips (on average you can expect to pay around the same or less than a hostel). You can also read detailed reviews for every host to help you decide which will be most suitable for your needs. Airbnb also offers a selection of homestays where your host will be available during your stay. We also recommend trying GoDifferently if you’re interested in visiting Vietnam or Thailand. Apart from offering amazing homestays with local people, GoDifferently also give their guests the opportunity to mix holidaying with volunteer work. For some handy do’s and don’ts whilst living with a family check out this blog post by GoOverseas. If you’re willing to compromise a little, MonasteryStays offer incredible deals on rooms in stunning churches and monasteries all across Italy. All their accommodation is run by real monks and nuns, so be warned of their strict room policy, like no unmarried couples sharing rooms. If you’re cool with sticking to the rules and are in the mood for a tranquil location in some of Italy’s most idyllic cities this might just be for you.

If you’re a homeowner yourself, you could even try a home swap vacation. Instead of paying to stay in someone’s home you can search the internet and find someone who’s willing to come and live at your house whilst you try theirs! It might sound like a logistical nightmare but there are entire sites dedicated to matching people who want to find the perfect swap. LoveHomeSwap, Homelink and HomeExchange are some of the best sites to use on the market and are tried and tested by thousands of users. Home swaps are a fabulous option if you can find your ultimate match, but they aren’t free. Most sites will ask for a monthly or annual subscription to access their property swapping services, which can range from $50-$100 per year – even if you only plan on using it once in those 365 days we think it’s totally worth it!

Free Accommodation – Give a little, to get a whole lot more!

If you don’t have savings in abundance but still want to escape to your dream destination you could always volunteer your time in exchange for a free stay. So it’s not exactly ‘free accommodation’ but it is as close as you can get without sleeping on the streets (especially for those on a shoestring budget). There are plenty of people all across the globe that would love an extra pair of hands to help them out with the daily running of their businesses. For just a couple of hours of your time you could be enjoying a holiday with free food, free accommodation and the opportunity of a lifetime. Volunteering can give you the chance to try out some pretty extraordinary (and sometimes outrageous) things like milking goats in Hawaii, conducting llama treks in Peru or meditating on an organic farm in the Himalayas. Some of the best sites to search for work-trade volunteering opportunities include, WWOOF, Help Stay, Workaway, Caretaker and HelpX. For a really in depth guide to volunteering abroad make sure you read blogger Nomadic Matt’s post on ethical volunteering.

Private Lodging – Get off the beaten path

For people who like their privacy whilst on holiday, private lodging is a great alternative to homestays. If you have the budget for the additional costs you could enjoy a dream home all to yourself. Airbnb is a leading site and has a very good range of properties all over the world including castles, penthouses and cottages – if you’re feeling extra fancy. Their prices can be on the higher side if you’re looking for a long term options so make sure you factor this in before you book. Spotahome is another great site that specializes in mid to long term holiday rentals – so it’s naturally much more cost effective plus it gives you way flexibility. Spotahome currently operates in major European destinations like Barcelona, Paris, London and Rome so you’re guaranteed to have a true taste of chic city life. For a slightly more rustic experience away from the big city lights Tep highly recommends trying out ‘Glamping’ (aka glamorous camping). It’s the perfect blend of outdoors and comfort so you’ll be able to take in the scenery, go on long walks in the countryside and will still have all the luxuries from home like running water, a bed and even electricity. GoGlamping or CanopyAndStars are the top websites to check for unique camping experiences all over the world.

For any travel plans you make, we always suggest you research the location and all of your options carefully. Apart from comprehensive travel and health insurance we also recommend you bring along your mobile, tablet or laptop (if you’ll have a safe place to store it) when you go on holiday. Not only will these devices let you stay in touch with loved ones, they’ll also let you explore the world around you more quickly and efficiently – Google Maps and TripAdvisor are on our ‘must-not-travel-without’ list for obvious reasons. Unfortunately adventuring comes with a high probability that internet access will be sparse and when you do find it, you’ll either be logging onto to dodgy public wifis or will be getting charged the earth for using your mobile’s data roaming. For a full overview of the pitfalls of holiday wifi and data roaming check out our informative post here.

Thankfully Tep has come up with a solution for modern wanderlusters who need to stay connected even when they’re off the beaten path. For a fixed daily cost you can have access unlimited internet through Tep’s portable wifi device. The small pocket sized device can easily be transported when you’re moving from one destination to the other and it works seamlessly across over 80+ countries so you won’t even have to worry about buying local SIM cards or paying for overpriced wifi access! It’s perfect for uploading holiday snaps, blogging about your travels, keeping in touch with friends and family or just simply helping you navigate unchartered territories. For more information on how Tep works or to rent a device for your next trip click here.

Finally, Tep’s affiliate program is one way for bloggers to generate income from their website and we already have a few on board such us Travel with Bender, Gypsynester, TravelingMom and Traveling Well for Less.

If you’ve had any experience with traveling abroad whilst roaming, you’ll know the risks of receiving a shocking bill are high – as many as 4 in 10 people have been landed with one. In this informative post we’ve given you a breakdown of the new measures, who will benefit from them and some useful advice on how to stay clear of excessive roaming charges for those who are left out.

The new ban on all roaming surcharges was announced by the European Commission this year and will come into force in June 2017 across all its 28 member states (plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein).

The new measures will also include a 14-month period from April 2016 where an interim cap on charges will be in place. During this period surcharges will still be allowed but will be significantly reduced; calls and data will be capped at €0.05 extra and SMS will be capped at €0.02 per message sent.

A timeline of the changes

– October 2015 – Agreement formally adopted by the Council and by the European Parliament.

– April 2016 – Interim period on charges will come into force: Network providers will still be able to add surcharges but will be capped at €0.05 extra per megabyte of data, €0.05 extra per minute of calls and €0.02 extra per SMS sent.

– June 2017 – Roaming charges abolished in 31 European countries

Who will benefit from the EU’s new measures?

For the 10% of the global population with a smartphone who live in Europe, the horror of bill shocks will no longer be a fear once June 2017 comes around, so long as you travel to one of the EU member states that the new regulations apply to.

Here is the full list of European countries that are included and excluded from the ban:

EU Countries that are included:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy,Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the UK

EU Countries excluded:

  1. Albania,
  2. Andorra,
  3. Croatia,
  4. Russia,
  5. San Marino,
  6. Switzerland,
  7. Turkey.

As you can see from the list, a few European destinations will be excluded from the new regulations – including tourist hotspots Croatia, Turkey, Russia and Switzerland. Even with the interim data cap at €0.05 per megabyte, costs will still be significant for any data usage – 300 Mb of daily data usage could set you back at least €15 per day, and 1Gb of data will still cost you €50. So, if you are from the EU and want to travel to countries outside the roaming ban, make sure you take a look at our post on holiday roaming here to avoid the common pitfalls.

How will the changes affect the rest of the world?

Unfortunately, the abolition of roaming charges in Europe is unlikely to be implemented in other parts of the world.  In fact, high roaming charges between continents looks here to stay for at least the foreseeable future. In other words, holidaymakers from the rest of the world who want to travel to Europe, or European travelling to the Americas, will still have to be extra cautious in using their mobile data, as excessive usage will likely cost a fortune.

The U.S. in particular shows no signs of improving, with network providers AT&T and Verizon charging overseas travelers as much as $20 per megabyte for data roaming, meaning streaming a movie on Netflix could cost you a whopping $18,000! We’ve highlighted some of the most shocking data roaming stories in our Horrors of Data Roaming post if you want to read more.

Our verdict

Mobile data roaming consumption has been steadily increasing over time, which clearly shows that whilst the cost are high, the modern day travelers considers staying connected on their trips an essential not just a luxury.

We believe that the EU’s step towards abolishing hefty roaming surcharges is most definitely one in the right direction. We fully support any measures that make sure consumers get savings and more affordable access to the internet. However, there are many gaps left by the new legislation that will still mean costs stay high for travelers from outside the EU, people traveling to destinations not included in the ban and for heavier data users.

Savvy travelers have learnt to adapt to the surcharges in a number of different ways; by using free public wi-fi, capping their bill, buying a data add-on or even turning their mobiles off entirely. Yet all of these options make accessing the internet a hassle, more costly and in some cases even risky (public wi-fi has some serious pitfalls – which you can read about here).

Thankfully there is a solution that solves all of these issues. Tep portable WiFi devices delivers you cost-effective, reliable, fast and secure internet for almost any destination in the world. The device will even be cheaper than the EU’s interim price cap, at €8.95 / £6.5 / $9.95 a day for unlimited usage for up to 5 devices, you’ll be hard pushed to find a more competitive price on the market.

Until roaming charges are abolished worldwide, we recommend using Tep’s wireless device for an all-encompassing solution, regardless of where you are planning to travel next.

Pitfalls of Holiday Wi-Fi

The High Cost of Data Roaming

It’s a problem many well-seasoned travellers are accustomed to, 4 in 10 people polled by USwitch have been landed with a shock bill just for using their mobile phone abroad. Even for the careful user, turning your phone on in a foreign country and receiving texts or voicemails can cause costs to soar. Using mobile data is particularly expensive as one British holidaymaker found when she racked up a £2,318 bill simply by using her mobile data to navigate the confusing and congested streets of Istanbul.

Why are the costs so high?

The carrier you are roaming on whilst you are abroad charges your network per megabyte, and does it at an astronomical price. The reason for this is rather interesting, because every country you visit will have multiple networks and your phone frequently switches between them, there is no incentive for roaming providers to push down prices. On top of that, your network carrier has to charge you for the highest network out there, in case you stay with them the entire time. The net result is that you get totally screwed over.

What can you do about it?

The reality is most modern travellers like to stay connected wherever they go, especially in a new country, where having access to Google maps could mean the difference between being lost and getting to your hotel safe and sound. Mobile data is also really useful for quickly evaluating a local restaurant on Trip advisor, finding out the opening times of a local attraction or staying in-touch with friends and family. If you don’t want to be paying a premium for uploading your holiday snaps to Facebook or checking directions to that great Bistro you’ve been recommended then there are few standard ways you can avoid it.

Contact your network provider and ask them to cap your bill – this will make sure you don’t return to a shock bill but will mean you won’t be able to use your data after it’s reached the limit.

Buy a data add-on that will give you a set amount of data to use whilst your away – this is a good option if your provider has reasonable offers on but will again mean you can’t use data after it runs out.

According to a recent Deloitte report 53% of people say they turn their phone off entirely or turn off data in order to avoid the costs of roaming. Just 18% said they would activate a data-add on.

Holidaymakers are clearly fed-up with having to pay excessive amounts for using their mobile phone abroad and want to be able to connect to the Internet whilst travelling without risking overcrowded Starbucks and unsecure connections.

If you don’t want to risk your mobile phone bill skyrocketing whilst you bask in the Sicilian sunshine you could always resort to turning your mobile data off and sticking to public Wi-Fi. You might think that this is an easy fix but connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots has its pitfalls.

Public WIFI

Public Wi-Fi hotspots, typically found in Hotel lobbies, Airports and Coffee Shops, allow you to connect to the internet for free (or for a small charge) and will usually require a password or registration. Whilst this option is incredibly convenient and free to use, there are several pitfalls which many people remain unaware of. The main risk to always be aware of is your data’s security. When you are logged in to a public network it becomes infinitely easier for a hacker to access and steal your personal information, think passwords, logins and credit card details – here’s a useful guide you should read to make it harder to steal your data.

Some Wi-Fi providers will also ask you to sign-up with them in order for you to access their service for free, whilst this may seem like a reasonable trade-off you are leaving yourself open to spamming and having your email address sold on to third parties. Make sure you always check the terms before you click to agree! Even if you do manage to jump through all the security hurdles, you are still hugely restricted to where you can use your Wi-Fi enabled devices and cannot enjoy access to the internet unless you are close to a hotspot.

Another problem many travellers face when they eventually locate a coffee shop with free Wi-Fi, is that they then have to deal with the noise, overcrowding and having to pay for a $4 Caramel Macchiato they never even wanted.

Portable WIFI

Portable Wi-Fi allows you to connect to the Internet from a secure, safe and convenient device that fits in the palm of your hand and can be taken anywhere. The device effectively creates a wireless hotspot with a 3G connection. By connecting to the internet through your portable device, you can save your mobile phone’s battery from draining, giving you more time to make your friends back home jealous with your photography skills.

Avid travellers David and Veronica James, better known as the ‘Gypsynesters’, were through with paying an ‘arm and a leg’ to use their devices abroad and found themselves quickly eating through data add-ons which they purchased from their U.S based network provider. Read their experience of using Tep Wireless’ portable Wi-Fi in Europe and South Africa here.

Tep Wireless’ device is available to rent for a fixed daily cost of $9.95 and allows you to travel and use the Internet seamlessly in 64 countries worldwide, making it great for that Euro trip you’ve been planning. It also gives you unlimited access for up to 5 devices, which means you can share your fuss-free connection with your friends and family. The main benefit of using a device such as Tep’s is that you no longer have to worry about your bill skyrocketing or your connection being insecure – it’s truly unlimited and completely secure.

So there you have it, our top tips to avoid unreliable Internet connections and high data roaming charges. If you need some holiday inspiration, why not check out our last post on the top cities to visit in Europe.

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