Staying In Touch

Here's How
Fur Seals, Phillip Island Nature Park, Phillip Island, Vic.  Photo credit: Tourism Victoria

It’s never been easier to stay in touch while you’re away – it’s keeping those pesky costs down that’s the trick. Here’s how…

Using your mobile in Australia
Speak to your mobile operator about charges for phoning from your mobile whilst abroad. Many companies offer roaming deals and packages so you can keep the cost of calls and texts down (see sidebar for more). This option is still likely to be more expensive than the alternatives, though, which are:

  • Buy an Australian SIM: For the SIM to work you may need to ‘unlock’ your phone and, in our experience, that’s not an easy or cheap thing to do in Australia. So, if you want to use your own phone, get it unlocked before you leave home.
  • Buy an Australian phone: A cheap phone may not have all the slick functionality of the latest models, but it’s less attractive to thieves and matters less when it gets covered in sand on Fraser Island.

An Australian phone comes with an Australian charger, so there’s no need for a bulky adaptor. It’s cheaper for Australians to call you too – handy if someone’s trying to contact you about a job.

Many pay-as-you-go deals seem geared towards backpackers. The last one we chose (Vodafone) gave us a fairly generous data limit (as well as calls and texts) for $49 (about £30) a month but deals are changing constantly.

Do ensure you give yourself plenty of credit – so you can head somewhere remote without worrying about topping-up. And if you don’t use it all you can end the month by blowing your remaining credit on a long call home.

Payphone

You can keep the cost of calling home low with phone cards for use in public payphones. Buy them from newsagents and pharmacists.

Email
There are internet cafes in all major cities and Wi-Fi in plenty of stores and hotels (although you may have to pay or sign-up to use it). See sidebar for more on data charges.

Skype
Fantastic when you’re in an internet cafe or using Wi-Fi on your laptop. Tablets and mobiles are a different matter with only a handful of providers (Skype partners) providing an international mobile Skype service. Check with Skype for the latest information.

Social media
Keep an eye on those data roaming charges but if you use Wi-Fi you can tweet to your heart’s content for free.

 

Data Roaming & Internet Access In Australia

The Aussies invented Wi-Fi, so it should come as no surprise that if you’re staying close to the cities you’ll find plenty of Wi-Fi hotspots for free emailing and internet.

Elsewhere things are patchy to non-existent and you’ll need to connect via the mobile network.

You’ll find the price for data bundles drops as you buy more MB (check with your mobile operator), but if you’re staying in Australia for a while, buying an Australian SIM or phone could well be more cost effective.

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