How to Save Money on Phone Data Abroad
You probably know someone who has returned from overseas with a horror story about a crazy-big—and utterly unexpected—mobile phone or tablet bill. In some cases people have been socked with five-figure tabs for using currency conversion apps, digital postcards, and even humdrum data like texts and emails. And that unlimited data plan you've got in the U.S. won't work once you cross international borders. But we've got some easy, affordable ways to be super-smart about using that smartphone.
Turn off data roaming
Limit your data downloads by opting for Wi-Fi only. By turning off roaming or selecting airplane mode, you'll have to go to a Wi-Fi hotspot to access the Web.
Turn off apps and automatic updates
This can be a big one, since that slim little phone in your pocket may be sucking down data even when you're not using it. Turn off automatic email updates (that way you'll be able to check email yourself using Wi-Fi when you're at a hotspot), voicemail (to avoid getting hit with charges for incoming phone calls even when you don't answer them!), and apps (which can continue updating and devouring data 24/7).
Rent a mobile hotspot
Instead of wasting time looking for a wired Burger King in, say, Gdansk, rent a mobile bubble. Weekly rates vary—Tep Wireless in the U.K. will charge less than $40 plus a daily $2 for unlimited wireless; Rentaphone Japan charges about $75 per week, including unlimited use and delivery to your hotel.
Get an international plan through your U.S. carrier
Whether you're combining business with pleasure or are simply hooked on your phone, there are some scenarios where you just know you're going to need your email, texting, and apps. In those cases it's a good idea to ask your U.S. carrier about their international plan that will resemble a domestic data plan. But just as you would at home, be sure you understand the limits of your data downloading, phone minutes, and any changes in the plan for business hours, evenings, and weekends.
Track your phone's data usage
Set your phone's data tracker to zero at the beginning of your trip so you can keep track of how much data you are using. Especially if you sign up for an international data plan and you're concerned about staying within a set limit (say, 50MB per month), the tracker will quickly become your wallet's BFF as you see those MBs slowly rise.
Buy a SIM card
Your U.S. mobile phone is likely "locked," meaning it will work only with the service you signed up for. But it's possible to ask your company to unlock your phone (usually by selling you a code). Once the phone is unlocked you can install a SIM card for the country you are planning to visit, including prepaid minutes. It's also possible to purchase or rent an unlocked phone, and there are SIM cards that can roam from country to country without an interruption in service.
Buy a disposable phone
No, it's not going to be especially smart or social, and it won't understand a word you say to it, but if you just want to be able to make calls without sweating the rates, sink about $75 or less into a local disposable mobile phone with a set number of prepaid minutes.
Bonus tip: Extend your phone's battery life!
While using Wi-Fi instead of 3G and 4G will help conserve battery power, it's still a challenge to keep your phone charged on the go. It's not a new idea, but we'd be remiss if we didn't remind you to turn down the brightness of your phone or tablet's screen—it is the single biggest consumer of battery power.
8 Tips For Documenting Your Travels With Vine
By now, we all know about the addictive photo-based app Instagram, and it was only a matter of time until smartphone users would get the opportunity to make our photo feeds move. Vine, a new free Twitter-backed iPhone app, has been described as "the Instagram of amateur videomaking," with a user-friendly interface to seamlessly post six-second video clips on-the-go. Here are eight great tips for sharing your Caribbean island hopping or European backpacking adventures. Learn the hard way, before you jet. Using this new app may come natural to some, but to others may take some practice along with trial and error. Because Vine does not give you the option to save or store video clips on your phone, you can either shoot and post in the present, or if not satisfied, delete and start over. Learn the technical side of the app before accidentally deleting a once in a lifetime whale-watching scene from your Alaskan cruise. Get ideas and inspiration from fellow travelers. Check out the curated #travel category in the Explore section to see where others are jet-setting and how they are creatively documenting their adventures. Rule out what not to do for your videos and get inspired by styles you hope to try out yourself. Plan out your video, just like you planned your vacation. Okay, perhaps not as detail-driven, but having a rough idea of what you're about to shoot and how to execute it makes a major difference. Vine gives videographers a spectrum of options, from one 6-second long frame to as many as 12 back-to-back half second ones, for their post. Let your subject go through the motions, not the camera itself. If you're shooting from a high-speed rail through the rolling hills of Italy's Tuscany region, let the passing vistas be the main motion. Actively moving the camera itself can easily sour a repeating video clip, and even nauseate your beloved followers. Slow and steady, there's no race. On the other hand, when given the opportunity to pan across a static scene, such as the irresistible panoramic view from your balcony in Playa del Carmen, keep your camera at one steady level. Plant your feet, twist your upper body to the left, tap to record and slowly pan to the right. Don't forget about sound. Documenting an opera in the beautiful Mariinsky Theatre of St. Petersburg, Russia, is worthy of your followers' ears, but awkward breathing sounds resulting from your phone being too close to your face during the performance...not as relevant to the scene, nor appealing. Be seen! Make sure to hashtag the videos you're proud of, so the world can see (and be envious of) your two-week trip to Southeast Asia: #southeastasia #indonesia #bali Keep it rolling. The only way to churn out great videos on your travels is to practice, be creative, and have fun with it. Weeks, months, and years from now you'll appreciate your stop-motion video clip of that last night's Santorini sunset.
New Orleans Travel Tips for Super Bowl Weekend
Long before anyone knew that the contending NFL teams in Super Bowl XLVII would be the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, this year's host city, New Orleans, was preparing for the crowds expected to pack the city next weekend. As with last year's Super Bowl, which was hosted by another mid-size city, Indianapolis, this year's promises a weekend where visitors can rub elbows with enthusiastic locals, with the party atmosphere traveling easily from the Mercedes Benz Super Dome (the site of the actual game) to the French Quarter and beyond. The location and time of year also mean that this year's Super Bowl festivities will overlap with those of Mardi Gras season, creating perhaps a "perfect storm" of hospitality and high spirits. If you're going to be in New Orleans this weekend for the game, the Mardi Gras, or just by coincidence, here are a few things you should know to guarantee that the party of the year goes your way: Have a custom-made libation. In honor of the big game, some local watering holes are rolling out original drinks. Café Adelaide (cafeadelaide.com), for instance, is serving The Raven (made with rum, ginger syrup, orange juice) and The California Gold Rush (made with organic vodka, mint, seltzer, and golden bitters). Enjoy a Mardi Gras parade. Sure, the real Fat Tuesday isn't until February 12, but in order to accommodate the plethora of krewes, parades began in mid-January and are happening now. While all the parades offer colorful floats, costumes, and interactions with the crowd, for something different, try the Krewe de Paws Canine Carnival Club parade, Saturday February 2 at 10 a.m. in nearby St. Tammany Parish. To check out other parade schedules and routes, visit nola.com/mardigras. If you get a restaurant reservation, keep it! At this point, with just a few days remaining before game day, most of New Orleans's high-end dining spots are booked. But if you do land a reservation at a sought-after restaurant such as The Grill Room at the Windsor Court Hotel (windsorcourthotel.com), be sure to show up on time. If you cancel a reservation without prior notice, the restaurant will charge a fee of $100 per guest. But remember, New Orleans restaurants are used to crowds. Low-key restaurants like the breakfast and lunch café Stanley (stanleyrestaurant.com) expect to see up to 3,000 guests per day this time of year, so the Super Bowl crowds won't necessarily cause as much of a scene as you might fear. (In fact, wait staff at Stanley have been outfitted this year with iPads so that tranmitting diners' orders to the kitchen is snappier than ever.) One caveat, though, is that some joints (both posh and pedestrian) near the Superdome may be shut down the weekend of the game. Chef John Besh, for example, is closing his La Provence restaurant through February and using it instead as a prep kitchen for game-related parties and events that are booked at his downtown restaurants. Check out public transportation. New Orleans's legendary streetcars and other means of public transportation are affordable and efficient. But be sure to check out Super Bowl- and Mardi Gras-related schedule changes and detours at the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority's website, norta.com. TALK TO US! Are you visiting New Orleans for the Super Bowl or Mardi Gras? We'd love to hear what you have planned!
How to Save on Theater Tickets—and Dinner—in New York
Now is a great time to be in New York. The city is celebrating it's annual NYC Restaurant Week, Broadway Week, and, starting January 28th, Off-Broadway Week—and this year they're all overlapping. And don't worry, despite the names they actually last longer than just a week. Here's what you need to know to take advantage of the savings. NYC RESTAURANT WEEK: Now thru Feb. 8thWith 317 participating restaurants located all over Manhattan plus two outer-burrough spots—The Greenhouse Cafe in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and the Water's Edge Restaurant in Long Island City, Queens—it's easy to take advantage of this deal. The website lets you search for your favorite restaurants by neighborhood or type of cuisine, download menus, and makes it easy for you to book reservations online. The only catch seems to be that Saturdays are excluded from the deal, and Sundays are optional depending on the restaurant. This year's pricing for three course meals is $25 at lunch time and $38 for dinner. BROADWAY WEEK: Now thru Feb. 7thTwo-for-one Broadway tickets are yours for the taking thanks to Broadway Week. Seats are typically located in the back and sides of the orchestra and mezzanine sections, and this year, an extra $20 per ticket lets you upgrade to a seat closer to the stage. As of this posting, deals were available for Annie, Chicago, The Heiress, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia!, Mary Poppins, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Newsies, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Once, The Other Place, The Phantom of the Opera, Picnic, Rock of Ages, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and Wicked. Book online and use promo code BWAYWEEK. Use promo code BWAYUP when purchasing the $20 upgraded seats. OFF-BROADWAY WEEK: Jan. 28th thru Feb. 10thJust like Broadway Week, Off-Broadway Week gets you two-for-one tickets to some great performances. Book through the website for popular shows like Avenue Q, The Berenstain Bears in Family Matters the Musical, Blue Man Group, Channeling Kevin Spacey, The Fantastiks, Forbidden Broadway, Much Ado About Nothing, Silence! The Musical, Stomp, and The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, among others.
Two Ways to Save on a Vacation This Winter
There are two types of vacation strategies in the winter: get as far away from the cold as possible, or embrace it. And which of these travel deals appeals to you depends on your preference. For beach weather Winter is high season in the Caribbean, but that doesn't mean there aren't deals to be had. A new promotion through the USVI tourism board gets you a $300 credit on airfare per couple when you book a six-night package to St. Croix, and that sixth night is free. There are a dozen resorts participating in the program, including The Buccaneer and The Palms at Pelican Cove. Hurry, though, you need to book by January 31 and for travel between January 27 and March 24. For an island that's a bit chillier Even though winter in England is decidedly less sunny than the Caribbean, that's no reason to stay away. And if you book an airfare and hotel package through British Airways, you'll get two hotel nights free thanks to a deal through BA and Visit Britain. The deal is valid on trips to London, Manchester, and Newcastle, England and in Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland, with 13 hotels to choose from. Book now until March 31 for trips through the end of March.
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