How to avoid roaming charges

phone roaming

phone roamingThe spread of Voice over the Internet Protocols (VoIP) coupled with the advent of smartphones and tablet computers mean that all you need is the right software programme and a Wi-Fi connection to be make and receive calls while abroad absolutely free.

Skype is the most well know VoIP but Vopium and Facetime work in much the same way.

They route calls through the internet, so – provided the person at the other end of the call has the same software – calls are free.

Sign up for free calls

Skye and Vopium can be downloaded to desktops and laptops, while those with a smartphone (Blackberry, Android and iPhone) will find apps available for their handsets.

Facetime is preinstalled on all the latest Apple kit, including iTouch, iPhone 4 and iPad 2.

Check out free Wi-Fi

When booking your holiday, you should check if your selected hotel provides free Wi-Fi access. Not all do, as many hotels see charging for Wi-Fi access as an extra revenue stream so it’s important to check before setting off.

If you find that your hotel or resort do charge, you’ll need to investigate free Wi-Fi locations nearby.

Here, BT Broadband, O2 and Sky Broadband customers are at an advantage. BT Broadband customers should sign up for free Wi-Fi through Fon – available at Starbucks and Café Nero – while O2 and Sky customers need to register with The Cloud, although this is only currently available in Germany, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

If you’re not an O2, Sky or BT customer then you can take out a subscription to Fon or The Cloud for the duration of your trip abroad.  A five-day pass for Fon costs £10 at the time of writing or you can opt for pay-as-you go for 4p a minute.

The Fon website and The Cloud site will allow you to map out free Wi-Fi venues before you leave. Alternatively iPhone and Android users can download an app to guide them to the nearest hotspot.

Switch off your phone’s 3G

To make sure calls are definitely routed over Wi-Fi, simply turn off the 3G on your handset before you leave the UK. On most handsets this is easily done under the “manage connections” button.

Free call recap

With the right software and Wi-Fi access you can stay in touch when travelling – or with your children when they are travelling – without paying a penny.