Tag Archives: Portable Wi-Fi

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!

Amusement parks (or theme parks as they’re commonly referred to) are a one stop shop for families seeking an adrenaline-filled vacation that is guaranteed to give your kids memories for a lifetime (and give you a peaceful night’s sleep). You’ll enter every child’s dream world, filled with castles, water rides, carousels, roller coasters, ridiculously catchy musicals, fast food, eye candy and plenty of picture perfect moments to capture. Many parks even have their hotel accommodation on-site, so you can make the most of your stay and avoid those summer queues! If you’ve never experienced an amusement park as an adult, it’s definitely one to tick off your bucket list plus, your children will definitely thank you for it.

North America

You’ll find a giant selection of amusements parks in the US, from the magical Disneyland in California and Florida to the ‘Roller Coaster Capital of the World’ (a.k.a. Cedar Point) in Ohio there is sure to be a park suited to your requirements.

The original Disneyland was opened by Walt Disney in the 50’s and despite the franchise expanding globally, it is still extremely popular today. Some of the park’s highlights include the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride which takes you on a winding journey through haunting mines and eerie caverns, Star Tours – The Adventure Continues that lets you relive the Star Wars adventures in an epic 3D motion-simulated space flight and daily extravagant fireworks displays. You’ll need at least 2-3 days to fully cover the entire park without having to rush around (it’s pretty big). Prices for 2 day passes start from $97.50 per person or $85.00 for 3-day passes – book here.

On the other side of the country you’ll find Magic Kingdom Park, another epic Disney creation and one of the top attractions in the U.S. The park is divided into six distinct lands: Main Street USA (the entry plaza), Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, which all offer unique experiences. We cannot recommend enough the Space Mountain roller coaster, Pirates of the Caribbean boat ride and the emission-free Tomorrowland Transit authority people mover to take in the beauty of the park by night. The park is just one of the attractions within Walt Disney World’s gigantic 40 square mile resort. As with Disneyland, you’ll need a couple of days to truly enjoy the entire park but if you have more than a week to invest in your trip, we suggest visiting some of the other parks on offer including  Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Typhoon Lagoon. You can conveniently buy a 14-day pass which includes access to all of 4 of their theme parks and 2 of their water parks. Prices start from $420 per person, to buy or find out more click here.

Cedar Point is perfect for thrill seekers and is world renowned for its selection of roller coasters. Located an hour’s drive from Cleveland, Ohio, the park features 18 world class rides including Millennium Force, Top Thrill Dragster, and Maverick. Daily tickets start from $47.99 and can be purchased online here.

We could quite literally write an entire post on the best parks in the U.S. but thankfully you can refer to this very handy guide for some of the other options available.

Europe

When it comes to world-class amusement parks, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Europe. In fact, the oldest theme park in the world, Bakken, can be found there, in the picturesque woods of Denmark. You can also visit the famous amusement park and pleasure garden, Tivoli Gardens, in Copenhagen. The park is well regarded for its 100-year old rollercoaster, open-air stage shows and storybook atmosphere. Day passes are extremely cheap and start from just $17 (110 DKK) and can be bought here.

France is home to many amusement parks but perhaps the most well known is Disneyland in Paris. Instead of repeating the magic of Disneyland’s French version here, we’d recommend reading this extraordinarily detailed guide to the park with all the tips, advice and recommendations you could wish for.

If you’re looking for a more unusual theme park with a historical twist then Le Puy du Fou in Western France is an absolute hidden gem. Unlike most parks you won’t find any rides here, just spectacular historical shows recreating everything from Viking battles to Roman gladiator scenes, complete with stunning visual effects. You can also visit the meticulously reconstructed historical sites, settlements and even an 18th Century farm which even include artisans, bakers and blacksmiths to teach you the ancient ways. Tickets start from $35 dollars for advance booking or $41 if you buy them on the day.

PortAventura is the most popular theme park in Spain and is our pick if you want guaranteed sunshine for your family holiday. The park is located in Salou and is also easily accessible from Barcelona. The park hosts a plethora of rides across 6 themed lands and also has its own water park. The park’s best-loved rides include Furious Baco, Stampida, Hurakan Condor and Dragon Khan. This super useful guide will give you advice on how to make the most of your trip and save time and money too! Prices start from $50 per person for a 1-day ticket, we recommend you buy in advance here.

Other European amusement parks we recommend include Gardaland Park in Italy, Efteling in the Netherlands and Germany’s Europa-Park. For a selection of less famous but extraordinary parks check out this article.

Rest of the World

The east of Asia is fast becoming a hub for amusement parks and theme parks. Leading the way is Japan with Universal Studios in Osaka. Brought to you by the world famous Universal Studios who have produced some all-time hits including Harry Potter, Minions, Despicable Me, Shrek and Sesame Street, Universal Studios Japan is one of four worldwide theme parks. Some of their must-see attractions include, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman: The Ride and Jurassic Park: the ride. We also love their Peter Pan’s Neverland show held on the park’s lagoon. Day passes to the park start from $67 and can be purchased online here.

Lotte World in South Korea is the largest indoor amusement park in the world and the only one on our list where you are guaranteed good weather no matter the time of year. Also referred to as the Disneyland of South Korea, you’ll be sure to find plenty of thrills here. Our favorite rides include the Atlantis Adventure water coaster, the Pharaoh’s Fury dark ride and Desperados II. Entry to the park for one day costs around $47 for adults, for ticket information click here.

The final park on our list is Beto Carrero in Brazil. It’s the biggest amusement park available in Latin America. It’s consistently been rated as one of the best places for the family in the country and is located just south of the capital, Rio de Janeiro. Some of the best bits include the Velozes e furiosos show, Fire Whip roller coaster, Imperio das Aguas and the Traum Boat 360. Daily entry costs around $27 per person.

Here are our top tips for planning and enjoying your amusement park holiday

1. Research the amusement park before you book – assess whether the rides will be suitable for your kids’ age range.

2. Shop around for prices/deals – you may find special offers and cheaper prices for booking early or at certain times of the year.

3. Get your kids involved and make a list of all the attractions you’d like to see – this will get them super excited for the trip and will you prioritize and make the experience that much better.

4. Plan the best route around the park so you can save time when you arrive – this will also allow you to enjoy as many rides as possible. Don’t forget to factor in queuing times for the most popular rides.

5. Get there early morning (or pay extra for priority passes)! Queues are part and parcel of theme parks, particularly in peak season, so either get there early or pay your way to get on those rides first.

6. Most rides have a height restriction (usually displayed on their website) – so be wary before getting your kids all psyched up for rides they might not be eligible to ride.

7. Pack a poncho! Some rides can get wet and wild so you’ll want to protect your clothing. We’d also suggest wrapping your phone in a zip lock bag to protect it from unnecessary water damage.

8. Designate a place to regroup if anyone in your family gets lost – we also recommend attaching your contact details to any of your younger children, just in case they wander off (theme parks are big places). If you’re super paranoid about losing your child this app could help you geo-locate them using a smart-phone.

9. Carry a rechargeable phone case. It might sound a little over the top, but given that amusement parks are usually all day events, you’ll need to make sure your mobile can be used to find your family or navigate back home after a long day. This BoxLengend case is very affordable and highly effective charger for just such situations.

10. Stay connected to the internet. You can share videos of those epic rides in real-time, WhatsApp your location to your group and even Instagram some of those priceless memories all from your phone. Data roaming is very costly (and risky) so we recommend bringing your own Tep portable wifi device to ensure you have safe and secure access to the internet wherever you go. The device gives you unlimited internet access for just $9.50 per day and can be used by all the family simultaneously. To find out more or to buy a device click here.

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.

Whether you’re a hopeless romantic or a Prince Charming, we’ve got some great ideas for you to try with your better half this Valentine’s Day. We’ve ordered them by the amount of planning and preparation required, starting with the easiest and most risk-free suggestions – so there’s no excuse not to make an effort!

5. Flowers and Chocolates

Roses are red – they also happen to be one of the most widely recognized symbols of love and affection around the world. So why not splash out on a bouquet of fragrant roses that are perfect for a grand Valentine’s Day entrance – they’re also equally good, deconstructed, as a romantic trail leading to the boudoir!

If your partner has a sweet tooth, make sure to pick up a box of chocolates. Not only is chocolate one of the most romantic treats you can give your loved one, it’s also medically proven to release serotonin (which makes you feel good). You’re guaranteed to make a great impression with one of these affordable but delightful chocolate boxes. If you really want to push the boat out, why not take your partner to a chocolate making class where you can perfect your chocolatier skills together.

4. The Dinner Date

This year’s Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday, so why not give her something money can’t buy, your precious time and a home cooked meal. She’ll really appreciate the effort and it’s a great way to show her how much you care (without spending tons of cash on a fancy meal). If you need some inspiration check out these 25 delicious and decadent recipes. We also recommend doing a test run (with your kids or friends) before the big day, to make absolutely sure your chef skills are on point.

If you’re worried your cooking skills aren’t up to scratch, a romantic meal for two at your favorite restaurant is a great alternative. It’s an excuse to get all glammed up and will give you both the chance to focus on each other – whilst someone else worries about the dishes! If you’re up for something more adventurous, you could always pick an exciting new restaurant to try out and critique together. Whichever option you choose make sure to book your reservation well ahead of time (spaces go notoriously fast on Valentine’s Day).

3. A Treasured Gift

Money can’t buy you love, but it can give your partner something they’ll treasure for years to come. If you’ve budgeted for something extra special, Tiffany & Co. is the go-to destination for timeless pieces of jewelry. Alternatively, you could pick out a fragrance that will compliment her personality and keep you head over heels for her with a gift that benefits both of you. This list has some amazing options including some of the most seductive perfumes of the year. If you’d rather not splash out on a gift or don’t have the time, you could always evoke your DIY creative side and make her something that she’ll truly appreciate – here’s 40 easy gift ideas from Buzzfeed you can make yourself.

2. A Life Experience

Valentine’s Day could be the perfect opportunity for you to help your loved one cross off an item from their bucket list, or simply do something they love. Whether it’s booking tickets to an Opera, taking them to see their favorite band in concert or even going bungee jumping, an activity will bring you closer together and help make this Valentine’s one to remember. If you want to up the stakes, you could even try re-enacting the moment you fell in love, by taking her to that cherished place where you first laid eyes on each other.

1. A Romantic Holiday Getaway

Our top Valentine’s Day treat will require the most planning and preparation but will guarantee you blow your significant other away. Hop on a plane and jet your loved one off on a romantic getaway they will never forget. If all you have is a long weekend to elope we suggest the city of love a.k.a. Paris. Apart from the famous ‘love-locking’ on the Pont des Arts (which is sadly now banned) here are 10 romantic things to do in Paris.  If you’ve already been to Paris or would like to try something different this year, Venice and New York are two great cities for a passionate weekend away.

If you’ve somehow managed to steal away for longer than just the weekend and want a Valentine’s with a difference, Tep highly recommends an escape to the magical Kyoto in Japan. February is a great time to experience the first plum blossoms and the fascinating Setsubun festival. If you want to spend Valentine’s Day in the warmth, there is no better and more picturesque location than Bali where you can enjoy an ‘aphrodisiac picnic in bed’ whilst watching the sunset or horseback riding on the secluded Yeh Gangga beach.

Your romantic getaway wouldn’t be complete without your own Tep portable wifi device that will allow you and your beau to stay connected to the internet, and plan which famous landmark you’ll adventure to next or what rustic cuisine you’ll woo her with come the evening.

The device works in over 80 countries including all of the romantic destinations we’ve mentioned in this post. It costs just $9.95 per day for truly unlimited data so you can upload as many cheesy photos, videos and memories as you like without worrying about data roaming costs!

We hope this posts helps score some serious brownie points for you this Valentine’s Day and makes you and your partner feel extra special.

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.

Tep-Horrors-of-Data-Roaming-Infographic

Data roaming is not cheap, but do you really know what monsters you might awaken by turning your phone on whilst on vacation?

In the U.S., providers AT&T and Verizon charge up to $20 per megabyte. Doesn’t sound terrifying? To put that into context, a 3-minute YouTube video would cost you a spine-chilling $100 or worse still, a movie streamed on your iPad would set you back $18,000.

Forget vampires, these horrendous figures are enough to drain the blood out of you – and your bank account. In this shocking post we will be giving you a glimpse into the nightmare situations which mere mortals have been experiencing all over the world.

Our series of unfortunate events begins in Spain, where one woman unknowingly racked up a bill of £16,000 ($24k) for sending text messages whilst roaming. In Turkey the misfortune continued for Ms Mills who went away to relax but was instead greeted with a bloodcurdling bill for $34k – she was just trying to Facetime her friends and family.

Even the careful sort (who only use Wi-Fi) can get caught in a sticky web of data roaming charges as this woman found whilst visiting the States. Parents should be particularly wary of the data roaming demons, as one father experienced a nasty surprise when he received a $22,000 bill after a trip to Mexico – his son had been innocently playing with his phone. Even for businesses, roaming can be a nightmare as one employee got himself thrown into Dante’s inferno for using $15,500 worth of data in Sri Lanka – on his work phone (ouch).

Not even the Canadian government was immune to the horrors of roaming – one of their officials was billed $20,000 for just 2GB of data whilst in Poland. Music lovers be warned, a Neil Diamond album could cost you $4k, as Katie Bryan realised after she returned from holidaying in South Africa.

Are you frightened yet?

We’ve done some number crunching and figured out what a bad roam-ance could cost you. At $20 a megabyte for data-roaming:

  • 15 YouTube videos just lost you a new MacBook Pro
  • 4 Movies could have paid for a brand new Tesla Model X
  • 65 Skype calls later and you could have been a homeowner

If our stories and statistics don’t give you the ‘hebejebes’, we’ve heard Fear Factor may be hiring. If however, you do want to save your soul from the data roaming demons we suggest you avoid going trick or treating with your mobile data plans – we checked and they don’t accept candied apples or sweets. We also recommend making sure your data roaming is switched off when you go away and getting your hands on a portable Wi-Fi device to save you from the horrors above.

To find out more about how our wireless Internet device could save you money on your next holiday, click here.

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