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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!

Knowing how to keep your little ones amused whilst travelling can be a daunting prospect – especially since children’s attention spans are noticeably getting shorter!

There are several ways you can keep your kids happy and entertained whilst on holiday without breaking into a sweat! Here is our list of must-have tech gadgets for your young ones that will help take the pressure off:

Tablets and Gaming Devices

Knowing the best devices can help keep you one step ahead of your kids. Tablets and gaming devices are at the top of our essential tech to have on family holidays for their sheer versatility. They allow kids to switch effortlessly between playing games, learning, watching movies and even reading e-books.

Tep suggests you bring along a tablet like Apple’s iPad Mini 2, if you want a device that’s great for both you and the kids. It’s pricey at $399 but fully worth it if you want to be able to sneak in a rom-com after the kids’ bedtime!

If you want something more affordable, Asus’ Nexus 7 (2013) is a great alternative – it runs on Android and is under $150. If you’re in the market for a tablet that is designed specifically with kids in mind then check out the Leap Pad Ultra (for young children 3+) or the Amazon Fire 7” Kids Edition, which have some of the best parental controls out there.

The Amazon Kindle is another good option for families with slightly older kids who love to read. With an amazing range of digital books on offer (which are usually cheaper than actually books) the Kindle (and Fire 7”) allow your kids to bring along all their favorites, with none of the heavy lifting!

As much as kids love tablets, nothing quite compares to the thrill of a captivating game played on their very own device. Nintendo’s 3DS and Sony’s PSVita are two portable gaming devices that are guaranteed to please with thousands of top-rated games.

We particularly love modern classics like Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7 (for Nintendo) or Tearaway and Little Big Planet (for Playstation). These devices aren’t cheap and will cost you upwards of $180 each, so just remember to factor in all the costs. Games can cost from anywhere between $20-$60 each!

TIP: If you don’t own a tablet or aren’t ready to take the plunge and buy a Nintendo/PSVita, your smartphone can act as a perfectly good alternative, just make sure you carry a heavy duty power pack (like this one) with you, as hours of app use will wear your battery down!

Smart Phones for Kids

With the next generation of kids growing up along side technology, it’s no wonder smartphones are on our essential holiday tech list. Whilst they may not be suitable for younger kids, a mobile phone can be a great way to keep your older one’s thirst for connectivity satisfied.

They can listen to music, play games, connect with friends and browse the internet from a single device. If you don’t fancy giving up your own phone for the duration of your holiday or forking up $800+ on a new iPhone, you could invest in a decent mobile for less than $300.

Our pick for kids is the Sony Experia M4 Aqua – a great mid-range phone with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a more expensive device, plus some added extras (like its waterproof design), all for less than $250!

Tip: Make sure you check roaming charges with your network provider before you go on holiday and read our post on how to avoid the pitfalls of holiday wifi and data roaming. If you don’t want to deprive your kids of internet on holiday you could always try renting a fixed-cost portable wifi device (see below) that can be used by your entire family. It could save you a lot of money and a potential vacation nightmare!

Apps and More Apps

Once you are armed with a tablet, gaming device or mobile phone, you are ready to start downloading apps that will help your little ones while away the hours. Any smartphone or tablet with access to the internet and an App Store (for Apple devices) or Google Play store (for Android devices) can be used to download millions of apps that range from free to $1-$5+ each.

Apps are a fun and inexpensive way for kids to test a range of skills including memory, languages, mental math and even creativity. For children with a flair for art and music there are plenty of options that will allow their imaginations to run wild.

Disney Pixel’d, Colour and Draw for Kids and Magic Piano are some of our personal favorites for smaller children. If you want to make sure you balance fun time with learning, try downloading educational games like: Tynker, GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine, Ansel & Clair’s Adventures in Africa, Squeebles Word Search and Dexteria Dots 2.

There are so many fab games available that we couldn’t possibly fit them all in, but our top picks Minecraft Pocket Edition, Moshi Monsters and Petting Zoo are tried and tested apps that will keep your children happy for hours! If you need more app-spiration take a look at bestappsforkids.com, it does exactly what it says on the tin, so expect to find the best games and apps (reviewed by bona fide moms).

Headphones

They may not seem like essential tech but with a child’s ears being far more sensitive to sounds than an adults, headphones are on our must-have tech list. Not only will they allow your child to listen to music, games and stories without disturbing you, they will also ensure their hearing is protected.

For kids under 6 years old, we suggest Kidz Gear Wired Headphones or LilGadgets Untangled Pro. Older kids who can really appreciate higher sound quality will love Puro Sound Lab’s Kids Bluetooth Wireless BT2200 – they’re also conveniently less garish for the fashion conscious youngsters!

Pocket Wifi

Even with every gadget imaginable under you belt, you will have a hard time pleasing your kids if you don’t have reliable access to the internet. Whether it’s to check their social media or download games, wifi is an essential for the next generation of tech savvy kids.

However, using your mobile phone abroad can be a very costly affair, especially when you have several data hungry children waiting to stream movies on Netflix or watch videos on YouTube.

If you want to avoid all hell breaking loose across your family and bank accounts make sure you check out Tep’s brilliant portable wifi device. The device is perfect for large families who want to access the internet simultaneously whilst on holiday.

It costs just $9.95 and can connect up to 5 devices at a time and gives you unlimited, reliable and secure wifi. What’s even better is you don’t have to invest in the device yourself, just rent it as and when you need it.

With Tep the kids can continue enjoying their high-tech gadgets whilst mom and dad sit back and relax without stressing over mobile phone bills or unhappy campers!

 

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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We love travelling and keeping our customers up-to-date with the latest technology that will make their time abroad more comfortable, enjoyable and memorable. The basic tech essentials like a smartphone, camera or Wi-Fi enabled tablet will ensure you stay connected but there are now a whole host of options and add-ons you can buy to make your trip even better.

We’ve now entered the age of the pocket traveler, where bigger is no longer better and the latest technology comes in forms that you can easily fit into your weekend bag. We’ve put together a list of some our favorite pocket gadgets that will compliment any holiday plans. In this week’s blog post we’ll be taking a look at five gadgets that you shouldn’t leave home without.

Portable Charger

Most smartphones will easily drain through a full charge of battery in just a few hours by using common apps like TripAdvisor, WhatsApp or Instagram. If you don’t want to spend the best part of your holiday wandering the streets in search of that elusive free plug, there is a solution. A portable charger (also known as a power bank) allows you to recharge your electronic devices on the go, making them especially handy for extending the longevity of your smartphone.

We think Anker’s 2nd Gen Astro E4 charger is perfect for the gadget-wielding traveler. It allows you to charge two devices simultaneously and no it doesn’t matter if you’re partial to Apple, Android, Windows or *gasp* Blackberry, it will charge all without prejudice! We love it because it has enough power to give your devices another day of use, its light (less than 300g), portable and won’t break your bank account.

You can check out a video review here or buy it directly on Amazon.

Our Pick: Anker Astro E4 (2nd Gen)

Price: $29.99

Noise Cancelling Headphones

Any frequent flyer will know that crying babies, noisy children and coughing passengers are obligatory additions to in-flight entertainment, but thankfully technology can come to the rescue.

Noise cancelling (or active noise reduction) headphones can help shut you off from the rest of the world and allow you to listen to your blockbuster movie or smooth jazz sessions completely free from noisy interruptions.

We can’t fault Bose’s Quietcomfort 20 – it does exactly what is says on the tin. The headphones are comfortable, great at minimizing annoying ambient sound, and (perhaps unsurprisingly given the brand) sound fantastic. These headphones aren’t cheap, but given that Bose is one of the most trusted brands for audiophiles, we feel these headphones are completely worth the price of admission – if not simply for the 40 winks you can finally enjoy 30,000 ft. in the air. Here’s an extremely thorough review by Forbes Tech if you need further convincing, and if you’re already convinced, here’s the link to buy them.

Our Pick: Bose Quietcomfort 20

Price: $299.00

Portable Speakers

If you consider yourself the life and soul of the party, and don’t mind imposing your music on those around you, you’ll want to invest in a portable speaker. It’s a relatively low-priority item on most people’s holiday shopping list, but one that can completely transform the ambience of your trip.

We’ve managed to find a really compact Bluetooth speaker that will be a welcome companion on any holiday; whether you’re day tripping to the beach or simply lounging by the pool. The Philips Shoqbox Mini may be pint-sized, but it packs a punch; it reaches high volumes, is waterproof, dustproof, floats and doubles as a conference-call device. It’s also reasonably priced for a speaker of its spec and could equally make a welcome addition to bath times at home, if you fancy retiring from pool party DJ-ing and taking up tub time sing-a-longs. Here’s an in-depth review by CNET.

Our Pick: Philips Shoqbox Mini

Price: $49.99

Portable Wi-Fi Device

Staying connected to the Internet has becomes an essential aspect of life, so why should it be any different when you’re basking in the glorious rays of your well-earned holiday? We know travelers are some of the most data-hungry people, so we’ve designed a pocket-sized device that gives you unlimited internet on the move – so you can scroll, swipe, snap, click and play to your heart’s content.

We also know that data roaming is expensive and public Wi-Fi is unreliable (click here read more about the pitfalls), so we’ve come up with an all-encompassing solution to both. Tep Wireless’ device costs a fixed daily amount ($9.95), there are no hidden charges or risk of your bill skyrocketing, you can connect up to 5 devices simultaneously (including mobile phones, tablets and laptops). It’s completely secure and you don’t even have to buy the device yourself – just rent it here as and when you need it. Check out our review section here or this overview from independent blogger, Pommie Travels.

Our Pick: Tep Wireless

Price: $9.95 per day (rental)

Portable Action Camera

Meet the modern day equivalent of VCR tapes for your family holiday. Video recording devices now let you capture those candid moments without having to reach for your smartphone or camera. Portable action cameras like the GoPro Hero make it super easy for you to ‘share your world’ with first-hand perspective, high quality videos – while they don’t guarantee to make you an internet sensation, they do look pretty damn epic.

The camera itself is very compact and easy to use, you can read the full review here. It’s perfect for when you go mountain biking in Austria or surfing in Hawaii or simply if you want to record your journey through the streets of magical Paris. We love the fact that its durable, waterproof, compact and makes sharing your memories really fun. You can buy it here.

Our Pick: GoPro Hero

Price: $129.99

So there you have it, our list of the best portable gadgets available on the market to give you that extra piece of mind on your travels. If you need some holiday inspiration, why not check out our last post on the top cities to visit in Europe.