Whether you're traveling solo, as a couple or with your entire extended family, there's one thing you likely won't forget to bring on your trip: your smartphone or tablet. Right next to socks and a toothbrush, your mobile device is one of the most important and useful items you'll bring with you.
While on the road, our mobile devices help us navigate new places, entertain us during long flights and keep us connected to back home. However, what might throw your trip into a tailspin is the amount of data these devices can consume. Streaming video, photo sharing, travel apps and Internet browsing can eat up data fast and if you don't have the right data plan you could end up having your trip cost a lot more in overage fees.
And trends show our need for data is growing exponentially, so the last thing you want to come home to is a huge bill because you or your child used too much data. To get the most out of your smartphone and tablet without the headaches of low batteries and data charges, consider these expert travel tech tips:
Connect to Wi-Fi whenever possible
One simple proactive step can dramatically decrease your data usage: connect to Wi-Fi. While not always possible, Wi-Fi is widely available at airports, train stations, restaurants and many other public places. If you're dealing with a delay, connect to the local Wi-Fi network and you can check email, surf the web or shop online until your heart's content.
Download playlists and movies
Taking a long plane trip or heading out on an epic road trip? Traveling to another country? Download playlists and movies before you leave so your content is ready to go when you're not able to connect to a network. You'll enjoy immediate access to what you want even in airplane mode or without network coverage.
Streaming video and music can use a ton of data so be careful what you choose to watch. In the US, T-Mobile recently launched "Binge On" which lets customers enjoy video streaming from top select partners like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, ESPN and more without using their high-speed data bucket. That means watching the game, catching up on your favourite series or movies for the kids won't cost you any data on the network. Look out for similar deals on your own network.
Ready devices for travel abroad
It's important to know your plan and ready your devices for traveling to other countries. Call your carrier to make sure you're covered and avoid outrageous international roaming fees. If you are constant international traveller, check with your network for any special plans they might have.
Nothing is worse than running out of battery while traveling. Your directions, your entertainment, and some argue, your sanity, are gone! If you're road tripping, remember to pack a car charger. If you will be away from a charging port, an extra battery or portable charger can be a life saver. Only have a few minutes to charge before take-off? Charge devices faster by switching to "airplane mode" before plugging in.