I now work on an EU project leading on dissemination and community building.
This basically means I travel a lot (this year I’ve been to Luxembourg, St Petersburg, Athens and am off to Helsinki next week). This is probably not as much as some people but a lot more than I used to. Also most of this travel is in Europe rather than in the UK.
As I move kicking and screaming into the frequent flyer bracket (I don’t like flying and it’s not doing my eco-credentials much good!) there are a few lessons I’ve learned that I thought I could share with you…
Apologies if some of these are obvious but I’ve learned the hard way!
Data Roaming is still bloomin’ expensive!
I turn off every mobile data switch the moment I sit down on the plane. So this means switching off mobile data, 3G, data roaming, Bluetooth, push data and all related things. I also switch off updates – updates always tend to pick their moments! This stops me accidentally accessing data when confused and lost in foreign cities. This has meant I’ve avoided ‘bill-shock’ (this is apparently an actual word now – unpleasant surprise of a very large phone bill) so far.
I do use wifi on my phone if available – but even then feel a little bit paranoid.
If you do want to use data roaming there is apparently an EU cut-off regulation you can opt in to. EU regulations mean providers have to warn you when you’ve nearly used €50 (approx. £50 incl VAT) of data in a month when roaming overseas. When you hit this mark, your mobile provider will cut off your mobile internet service until the next billing month begins, unless you have already pre-arranged a higher limit.
Lower costs are likely to come in by December 2015 if legislation approved by members of the European parliament’s industry committee is rubber stamped by full parliament on 3 April.
There is lots of useful guidance on data roaming about, I found the Roaming Expert website helpful.
I also now use Mapswithme on my phone – this allows you to download maps of cities in advance and then navigate them as if you are online.
I always check a hotel has wifi before I book. I connect with home using Skype or facetime. I try to never call.
I also have some spare Euros that I keep so I don’t have to rely on a cashpoint as soon as I arrive. I take 3 bank cards as a back up. I store all my receipts in a particular place and photograph them too. I upload photos to online storage while away in case I lose my camera or phone.
I prep in advance so that I don’t have to do too much complicated stuff while I’m away. So I draft blog posts, papers etc. and have them pretty much ready to go. You can’t rely on the quality of a connection when away from your computer. I now use LastPass (after a disaster a few years back) – this means I don’t spend hours trying to figure out passwords because I’m on my laptop. I ensure updates on my laptop are all done before I go!
I now have several adaptors and sometimes take an extension lead if I’m going to a conference.
I’ve finally got BA to realise that I’m a vegetarian after selecting this option on their website many times, but I always take a few snacks with me just in case. I also empty my water bottle out for security and fill it up when I get through – saves cash! I try and find veggie friendly restaurants in advance.
If I’m arriving late at night I now get the hotel I’m staying at to book the taxi. This saves me having to fork out lots for a dodgy taxi. Planing routes from airport and hotel is useful too!
I download iplayer programmes on my laptop so I can watch them in my hotel room – beats foreign programmes and BBC World news on a loop. I also stock up on my laptop on downloaded papers I’d like to read.
I try to schedule my travel so I have some time to have a look around, there is nothing more soul destroying that visiting a beautiful place and only seeing the airport.
And finally I have a gig glass of wine on the plane – this stops me worrying about crashing and all the things I’ve forgotten to do!
Travel suggestions from other people have been published on this blog before. Take a look at: