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solo travel

Solo Travel Tips to Stay Safe and Have Fun!

Many people are amazed when they learn that I journey around the world as a solo traveller – and even more than that, I do not have a family ‘back home’ who know my every whereabouts and activity.

I truly am the epitome of a solo traveller!

While friends have a general idea of which country I am currently visiting, rarely could anyone give an exact location as to where I am staying and for how long.

  • I could never do that!

  • Aren’t you scared?

  • I can’t go to a movie by myself, let alone travel solo

These are just some of the comments I have heard over the years.

Before I get into some of my top suggestions and tips for travelling by yourself, there is one thing I really must mention first – and that is,

To be a successful solo traveller, you need to enjoy your own company!

While this may sound obvious, the only time I have ever encountered anyone who didn’t enjoy their solo travel experience was when that person was an extreme extrovert who adored and thrived on the company of others.

Despite the fact that I have had a relatively public career, I am quite a strong introvert and I intensely dislike crowds.  I love being by myself (caveat, preferably if I have something to write on and with).  If I have a choice between going to a party or going for dinner with one friend, the one friend wins every time.  Even if you look at my media and speaking career, it was always me and a microphone.  Yes, there may have been tens of thousands of people listening at any one time, or a couple of thousand people in the audience – but I was connecting with the woman driving her children to school; or the man jogging along the beach; or the lady in the front row with a huge smile, or the man half-way back wearing purple…  I was never talking to a group of people – it was always just one person at a time.

I will often curl up somewhere wonderful and alive with people for the day and work, but while I may be surrounded by people, I have minimal interaction with them.  I am essentially by myself and only engaging when I feel like it (or when I need to order another glass of wine!)

If that describes you or your preferred style of communication – read on!

Follow your passion!

It can be a daunting task to decide where to go and what to do when you get there – whether by yourself or not.

For me, I focus in on my passions.  I know which countries and cultures are of interest, and then my other passions of history and photographing my journey come into play.

  • Do you like ancient buildings?
  • Do you adore museums and galleries?
  • Are festivals your thing?
  • Do you want to go hot air ballooning in several different countries?
  • Is tracing your family tree what drives you?
  • Speaking of driving, do you want to go to motor races all over the world?

Whatever it is, decide in advance where you want to go and why.

Visas

I will write a separate post on navigating visas around the world, but for now at least be aware that every country has different rules and regulations about how long you can stay and what you can do while you are there.

Once you have decided on your destination, do some research so you are certain your trip meets that country’s requirements.

…and it should go without saying that if you are travelling abroad, you need a valid passport – and again, different countries stipulate that it needs to have a certain number of months validity before they will allow you to enter (usually 3-6 months until your passport expires).

How to get there

While air travel is the default for most people, consider the myriad other ways of getting to your destination.

Depending upon geography, you could:

  • Travel by train – and even here there are options such as first-class and overnight sleepers
  • Drive – or be driven (for instance, I am being driven from Hungary to Slovakia on this upcoming trip – and it is ridiculously affordable!  One just needs to go hunting to find safe, reliable and cost-effective deals – or in my case, I asked a colleague for a referral)
  • Go by boat – ferries (that I think look like small ocean liners) are the usual, but again there are all types of floating options…
  • Kayak – yes, kayak!  I met a woman a few weeks ago who kayaked from Ireland to Romania!
  • Cycle, skateboard, walk…

The list is only limited by your imagination and passions!

Accommodation

Feeling safe and secure when travelling by yourself also means having all your documents etc in one place.

For me when it comes to accommodation, that means all my long-term accommodation I book on AirBnB and all my shorter stays are on Hotels.com.

That way, all my bookings are located in one place – if I get stuck there is only one number I need to call…

Also, remember that immigration officials will want the name of the hotel you are headed to when you get off the plan/train/automobile – so make sure you have that handy when you enter the country.

Plan Your Itinerary

This one comes with a caveat.  While I always know when I am entering and leaving a country, I do not always have a day by day itinerary planned out – hmmmm, make that I rarely have a day by day itinerary.

If there is a particular event on a specific day, that obviously goes into the calendar, but apart from that, I pretty much make my schedule as I go along.

This may be a little daunting for you – if so, there is a lot to be said for having a clear list of places to go and things to do mapped out day by day.  Just make sure you don’t over book yourself.  The purpose of your trip is to have fun, not to wear yourself out seeing seven countries in five days.

Stay in touch

OK, this is a case of do as I say, not do as I do.

Especially if you are new to travelling by yourself, it is a good idea to keep in touch with friends and relatives on your journey.

One idea is to have a set time each day to check in with someone – friend, mother, father, sister…

This not only makes them feel better, it might make you feel more secure as well.

Avoid over-packing

Hmmmmm, another ‘do as I say’ example.

When God was handing out the ‘packing light’ gene, I am fairly certain I was off having a glass of wine beside a lovely fire some place.

Regardless, the less ‘stuff’ (technical term) you take with you, the more you will thank yourself.

Photos

While it is wonderful to take photos and share them online, particularly when travelling by yourself, be conscious of how much information you are relaying in those photos.

Staying healthy

Here I am not talking about the obvious of not drinking brown water…  I am talking about eating well, exercising, making sure you drink enough (fresh) water.

These are elements that are often overlooked or forgotten completely when we travel.

Make sure you look at your diet and routine before you leave and build that into your trip.

For instance, if you know you get a caffeine headache if you don’t get your early morning brew, make sure you have that covered when you travel.  The last thing you want is to lose half a day of exploring because your head is splitting open because you cannot find a local Starbucks.

Meeting people

I have met people on my travels who have become life-long friends – and others who are part of an amusing story…

It’s a good idea to set up a special email address for when you are travelling.  You will want to give a number of people your email address – it’s a prudent tip, especially if you are travelling alone, to make sure they are who they say they are before you give them full access to your life and social media profiles!

Valuables

It doesn’t matter whether you are heading across your own state or across the globe, keeping your valuables safe is a priority.

I tend to have a place for everything – for instance, each credit and debit card has its own slot so I can see instantly that they are all there.

When I am paying by card, I never close my wallet until the card is safely back in its home – that’s just my way of making sure I always have them with me when I leave.

My passport lives in my wallet.

Keep your bags zippered shut at all times – and always keep your wallet and passport on your person.

Emergency

Another good tip is to at least know the number to dial emergency in the country you are visiting.  You never know when it might come in handy.

It is also a good idea to keep your emergency contacts (such as family members etc) on a card in your wallet.

Technology

Again, I will go into this in more detail in another post, but I tend to always have my main iPhone with me, but rarely (if ever) use global roaming.  I find it more cost-effective to put a local SIM card in my now out-dated and unlocked iPhone and use that as a wifi hotspot.

The benefit of retaining my main phone is that if ever I do get into trouble, I at least know I can flip over to international roaming and will most likely be able to get a signal.

I also use Skpe for all my calls – both video and voice.

Another gadget that is small and has saved me a lot of dollars is a Skyroam.  Again, that will be covered in another post, but you can Google it for yourself.

Aside from all the obvious things that I (hopefully) don’t need to tell you – like don’t go out walking alone at night – solo travel can be one of the most rewarding, empowering, uplifting and inspiring things you will ever do!

If you need any other info or ideas, drop me a line!

…and remember, above all…  Have fun!

~ Bella

 

My Luggage Concierge…

What is a luggage concierge?

luggage concierge

As you may know, I no longer have a bricks and mortar home anywhere on the planet.  Instead, I travel the globe and, apart from some belongings that are in a small storage unit, my entire now life follows me in eight suitcases that my wonderful luggage concierge service picks up and one destination and magically makes it reappear at my next!

Who is this magical service?

http://www.excess-international.com/ – my direct contact is Nick, but anyone there will be able to help you and they are all ever so lovely.

While they are only an international service (going from one country to another) I can wholeheartedly recommend them.

So, what is involved in using a luggage concierge?

The first step is to contact them and book the dates for your luggage relocation – with as much time in advance as possible.

They then email you with forms to fill in for the relevant customs etc, depending upon the country of your destination.

…and a note, suggest doing this before you start packing as you need to list the entire contents of each suitcase (not just ‘personal effects’) for customs declarations.

They the arrange everything!  Literally everything.

You are advised of the confirmed date of pickup and approximately window for arrival at your destination, they send you the labels that you need to print and put on the outside of the luggage (made easier to stick when you have the plastic luggage sleeves you see in the photo above) – and they take care of the rest!

Please note as well, that as with most services, this is door to door – meaning ground floor at the front door.

How much does it cost?

While it obviously varies on how much and where you are going, I can say categorically that on average it is sooooooo much cheaper than any other way I have investigated at getting my luggage from A to B.

…and they take such good care of me – I couldn’t be happier!

What countries do they cover?

Most!  Personally, I have used them thus far (as I write this post) for the USA, Australia, United Kingdom, and Italy…

How do I contact them?

Phone +44 (0)20 8324 2074 or email them through the website http://www.excess-international.com/

…and let me know how it goes!

~ Bella

PS:  I also recommend the plastic covers you see in the above photo.  I bought them on Amazon.co.uk

international chauffeur blacklane

My International Chauffeur Service

international chauffeur blacklane

Ever wanted an international chauffeur?

An international chauffeur company who knows you, who operates all over the world, who is reliable, affordable and who also has ‘an app for that’?

I love my international chauffeur service, BlackLane.  They do all that and more!  …and especially as a woman travelling around the world alone, I love the feeling of safety and security that comes with knowing they are there to take me from A to B and sometimes Q!   🙂

For instance, just this morning (and what prompted me to write this post), I received a phone call from them letting me know that for my flight tomorrow from Exeter to Vienna via a one-hour stop in Paris, I had booked the limousine for the time I arrive in Paris, not the time I arrive in Vienna when I actually need them to take me to my hotel!  Blonde moment!

Peace of Mind

There is wonderful peace of mind that comes from being about to go online, enter where you want to be picked up, where you are going and when…  The next screen tells you how much for each type of vehicle, you pick the one you want and on the following page you book!

international chauffeur blacklane

No hassling with credit cards or cash with the driver – and the app even gives you directions for exactly where to go…

For instance, after my week in Vienna, I am off to Italy for three months and taking the overnight train from Vienna to Roma Termini.  My chauffeur is booked to pick me up at the train station and the app even gives me instructions of exactly where to go when I disembark the train.  This is such a God-send since I have never been to Roma Termini and imagine it is not exactly small!

international chauffeur blacklane

Affordable?

In case you are wondering, YES, they are very affordable.  For instance, when I first thought about using them, I compared their prices to journeys by taxi and while they are obviously more expensive than a taxi, the difference is negligible when you also take into account the other benefits.

Here is Your Voucher!

As a customer, I get to give friends a 10 EUR/USD/GBP voucher.  Just use this promo code:  2B263SS2

…and they operate in over 250 cities around the world!


OK, back to finishing everything that needs to get done on my last day in beloved England!

Catch you soon…

~ Bella

luxury-skin-care

Luxurious Nomad Luxury Skin Care for Pennies!

I had a most delightful conversation yesterday with a lovely waitress at one of my ‘local watering holes’ where I eat, drink and work.

She is a beautiful young woman of twenty-five – and when we were joking about her being a quarter of a century, she was astonished when I told her I was in the second half of my century!

What ensued was a discussion on my skin care products and regime, and when I told her it involves basically two items – that are natural and affordable – she wanted to know more…  and she is not the only one.  I have had that almost identical conversation with at least a dozen people over the past six months or so…

So, here is my luxury skin care ‘secret’!

Bearing in mind that I travel all over the world, so I want to make sure I have the minimal amount of ‘stuff’ to cart around, given that I already have eight suitcases that my luggage concierge picks up and drops off when I move from one amazing location to the next.


Luxury Skin Care Cleanser

luxury skin care castile soapWhat surprises most women with whom I discuss this is that I use the same product for cleansing both face and body!

Kirk’s Soap has been produced without interruption for nearly 175 years – and being the Victorian-era-loving girl that I am, that adds to its appeal.

“Castile” originally referred to the highly-prized vegetable based soap produced in Castile, Spain. For centuries this soap was considered “the soap of royalty” because of its luxurious lather and gentleness to the skin.

luxury skin care face-scrubber-pad

I simply use a face scrubber pad (like the one in this image) and the soap for my face and upper body – and since I have mobility/flexibility challenges, I have a long-handled bath body brush that I use to exfoliate my legs – all with the castile soap!

You can find it on Amazon here:  http://amzn.to/2kwVfNC


Luxury Skin Care Moisturizer

luxury skin care argan-oilWhat is equally surprising for people, is that I also use the one product to moisturize both face and body AND the ends of my hair AND to do a deep treatment on my hair every few weeks!

You can read more about Argan Oil here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argan_oil – it is quite fascinating!

You might think an ‘oil’ would be greasy, but this one is silky-smooth…

I love it! – and a little goes a long way.

Again, all natural ingredients, and this one is certified organic.

You can find it on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2khiWIx


So, before you think you have to spend a fortune to get quality luxury skin care products that work, check out these two fabulous staples in my Luxurious Nomad life.

~ Bella

Skyroam Mobile Hotspot: Global WiFi // Unlimited Data // Connect 5 Devices // Pay-as-you-go // SIM-Free Coverage in Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa, Australia

Stay connected EVERYWHERE with this portable WIFI hotspot

portable wifi hotspot unlimited dataSkyRoam – Portable WIFI hotspot with unlimited data just about anywhere in the world…

I am officially in love with this gizmo!

Imagine getting off the plane, train or automobile in some foreign land and being able to connect immediately to friends, family, the internet in general…

That is all possible and more with this wonderful little gadget.

…and it is the size of a mobile phone and only $8 USD per day for UNLIMITED DATA!  OK, so it is only 3G speed, but that’s fast enough to post photos to Facebook, make Skype calls and more.

Check it out on Amazon by clicking here.

Seriously, for me this thing has been a saving grace!  For instance, while in Australia I was renewing a license and forgot to take one vital piece of paperwork with me.  Since I was only in the country for 3 weeks, I did not get a local SIM card HOWEVER, thanks to this portable wifi hotspot, I was able to get wifi, turn to my trusty iPad and pull up a digital copy of the missing paperwork that sufficed perfectly.  Had I not had the Skyroam, it would have entailed another day to go back to my condo, get the paperwork and return the following day to the licensing centre.

The only drawback is that it is heavy on battery usage, but with a small portable battery you will not have any issues.

Yes, you can use cellular roaming, but when comparing the cost of that to the cost of only $8 for unlimited data for a full 24 hour period for this portable wifi hotspot, I know which I prefer!

Here is the blurb from the website:

Skyroam’s personal WiFi hotspot provides fast, secure, cost-effective mobile internet around the world – all without a SIM! Keep your favorite gadgets connected wherever you travel without the burden of subscriptions, SIM changing, equipment rentals, counting MB data or unlocking phones.

Countries where you get unlimited wifi hotspot data coverage:

Asia: Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Kazakhstan, Laos, Macao, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Vietnam

America: Argentina, Aruba, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, El Salvador, Guadeloupe, Guam, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saipan, Turks & Caicos Islands, Uruguay, Venezuela, United States

Europe: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Vatican

South Pacific: Australia, Christmas Island, New Zealand, Fiji

Africa: Egypt, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa

Middle East: Israel, Qatar, Turkey

Notes:

  • Skyroam’s offers up to 3G/4G data connection (HSPA+ technology) when available.
  • Each 24-hr daypass begins when you click Start > OK on the hotspot screen. Buy daypasses when needed at account portal.
  • If account is inactive for 12 months and balance remains, two daypasses expire. If no balance remains, nothing changes.
  • Service is optimized for average use, speeds may slow with very high usage. Most users experience fastest speeds. High data activities like video-streaming are not recommended.

Check it out on Amazon by clicking here.

wifi booster extender travel

Wifi Booster – How to extend wifi range when travelling

What is a Wifi Booster?

wifi boosterYou’ve been there…  That place – be it hotel, house, office or hotspot – where the wifi signal is so weak that your connection goes on and off with frustrating regularity, or perhaps it stays connected but takes seemingly forever to download those important files…

With all the elements that can interfere with a wifi signal – walls, other devices, metal appliances and more – it is quite common to find yourself in this situation.

So, what can you do about it?

This is where a wifi booster (also referred to as a wifi range extender) comes in.

Wifi boosters increase the existing wifi strength by receiving the wireless signals and repeating them with powerful amplifiers and antennas, extending your coverage by up to twice the range.

…and they are super-easy to install and use, and inexpensive!

After a lot of trial and error, research, testing and searching…

This is the wifi booster/extender I use and love:

wifi booster extenderBearExtender PC v3 USB WiFi Booster and Range Extender for Microsoft Windows

 

Here is the description as it appears on Amazon:

“BearExtender PC is a long range, high power 802.11n USB WiFi Antenna using special BearExtender technology that offers up to 4X the range of standard range WiFi products. BearExtender technology has received rave reviews from PC Magazine, Engadget, The Telegraph..

Maximum range
BearExtender technology combines a proprietary high sensitivity receiver with a powerful 1200 mW transmitter for long range Wi-Fi at an affordable price. This is 2- 4 times the power of built-in Wi-Fi cards built-in to most laptops. The 5 dBi external antenna cuts through interference and can be upgraded easily for even longer range.
BearExtender PC must be connected to a USB port on your computer and it boosts reception to just that computer. It is a great option to boost your computer’s Wi-Fi range when traveling, such as at an airport or a hotel. It can also be used in your home if your computer is in an area where it gets low bars.

Designed for Microsoft Windows
BearExtender was originally designed to help students at the University of California, Berkeley, connect to the campus wide Wi-Fi network called AirBears, hence the name BearExtender.

Compatibility
BearExtender PC is not a repeater, so it cannot boost Wi-Fi range to other devices like tablets or TVs at the same time. It boosts the range just for your PC, wherever you take your PC. Compatible with Wi-Fi networks only. Not compatible with 3G/4G. Not compatible with iOS, Android or Windows RT tablet operating system. Not a standalone repeater.
BearExtender PC works with laptop and desktop computers running Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. Windows 10 software is not included on CD but can be downloaded at BearExtender.com/win10.”

When you live a laptop-lifestyle as do I, being able to have a wifi signal – and especially a strong one – is an essential part of life!

By Leigh St John aka the Luxurious Nomad

digital nomad toolkit

Digital Nomad Toolkit – Gadgets, Gizmos, Apps…

…I’m still writing this post! – but you can read what I have so far…

Every Luxurious Nomad has a whole slew of gadgets, gizmos, apps and platforms that allow her/him to live the life of a location-free digital nomad, and for the purpose of this article, I’ll call them my ‘digital nomad toolkit’.


What type of laptop do you use?  Is that an iPad?  What apps do you use to keep track of everything?  What sites do you use to book your travel?  Do you host your own website?

These are the types of questions I get every time I discuss my luxurious nomad lifestyle.

I’ve been putting off writing this post for some time because there are so many components that support my lifestyle that I’ve been using for years – to the point where I wasn’t even sure where to begin to list them all for you.

So, what you will find below is my list – but bear in mind that as I use another gadget or gizmo that I hadn’t added to the list, I will be updating this page – so check back regularly!  🙂

Here are my essential tools that make up my digital nomad toolkit:

devices

Devices

laptop ASUS ZenBook UX305CA

LAPTOP – ASUS ZenBook UX305CA

I invested months researching and then deciding to which laptop I would switch.  My beloved old Sony VAIO was the third in my long line of VAIOs and had given me years of loyal and (mostly) trouble-free service, but it was now on life-support so time to send it to the laptop retirement home.

My main requirements are:

  • lightweight
  • long battery life
  • Minimum 512Gb (I wanted 1Tb but chose to sacrifice that for the rest of my requirements and just keep even more files only in the cloud)
  • slim
  • full-size keyboard (and I did want a backlit keyboard, however it’s my own fault – I omitted to confirm that feature before I ordered it)
  • 13″-14″

Also, I do quite a bit of video and audio editing, and always seem to have 793 tabs all open at the same time 🙂 so it needed to have plenty of ‘grunt’.

After testing and researching many, many, many options (including the prospect of changing over to a Mac), I decided upon this lovely little Asus (and my beautiful little laptop is the white option).

I’ve had her (yes, it’s a her) for a couple of months now and I love it! – and she’s so slim, she fits easily into my handbag!


digital nomad toolkit ipad-mini-4

iPad Mini

I’ve had the full-size iPad for several years, and was going to get another when I updated, however the AT&T store didn’t have any 128Gb in stock, so I opted for the mini – and while I still find the small screen a challenge every now and again, overall I love my little iPad.

…and I need to mention here the amazing case / backlit bluetooth keyboard I have for my iPad mini.

digital nomad toolkit zagg-ipad-mini-case

ZAGG PROfolio+ Ultrathin Case with Backlit Bluetooth Keyboard

I originally had the solid ZAGG case but because of the angle and where it conencted to the iPad, I found it difficult to use any of the features at the bottom of the screen – so, when I came across this one, that is also a lot lighter, I was in heaven!

Click here to check it out on Amazon.


Connectivity

Skyroam Mobile Hotspot: Global WiFi // Unlimited Data // Connect 5 Devices // Pay-as-you-go // SIM-Free Coverage in Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa, AustraliaSkyRoam – Portable WIFI hotspot with unlimited data just about anywhere in the world…

I am officially in love with this gizmo!

Imagine getting off the plane, train or automobile in some foreign land and being able to connect immediately to friends, family, the internet in general…

That is all possible and more with this wonderful little gadget.

…and it is only $8 USD per day for UNLIMITED DATA!  OK, so it is only 3G speed, but that’s fast enough to post photos to Facebook, make Skype calls and more.

You can read my full post on it here:  http://luxuriousnomad.com/stay-connected-everywhere-portable-wifi-hotspot/


stay tuned, still lots more gadgets and gizmos to come…

travel security

Travel Security for less than $10.00

Travel security and peace of mind is something close to the heart of many a traveller, but how do you achieve it – in this case, specifically for your luggage – without spending a fortune?

When travelling solo (since you don’t have a partner or companion to be a lookout if you need to go into a store, for instance), this is a constant challenge, yet it is possible to at least give your luggage an extra level of security.

So, how do you get travel security for less than $10?

P1000520

While it won’t stop the determined thief (nothing will), this chain and combination lock is an excellent way to temporarily secure your luggage.

For instance, when travelling on many trains throughout Europe, your baggage is placed in a compartment at the end of your carriage.  Simply chaining them together (and possibly even to the railing on the compartment) is an excellent way of providing that extra little bit of piece of mind.

When travelling by yourself, one challenge that invariably arrives is what to do with your luggage when you use the rest-room?  While I’ve never had a problem with anyone tampering with nor stealing my luggage, on my future trips I must admit that I will feel slightly more at ease knowing they are at least secured together.

travel security

I found this chain in the ‘chains’ isle at Lowes (although you should be able to find it, or something similar, at any hardware store) and it was around $3.95.  It’s quite light-weight and when combined with a simple combination lock (that you can buy at hardware stores, many large pharmacies, department stores, even some supermarkets), gives at least an additional layer of security to your luggage.

One word of caution, in American airports, it is an offence to leave your luggage unattended.

Do you have other travel security tips?  Let me know so we can share them with the Tribe!

By Leigh St John, aka Luxurious Nomad

 

how-much-data will I use overseas

How do I calculate how much data I will use when I travel?

Data transfer on pc tabletInternational Roaming Charges, Prepaid Packages…  How do I know which one to get and how much it will cost me?

Don’t worry – this used to stump me, too… and I’m a geek, and it still stumped me!

Here’s a relatively simple way to calculate how much data you will need on your trip.

For the amount of time you are going to be away, jot down in a notebook how much time you currently spend doing the following:

  • Steaming music
  • Streaming videos
  • Surfing the web
  • Posting to social media
  • Downloading games, apps or songs
  • Talking on the phone
  • …and how many emails you receive and send.

Now at least you have a benchmark for what you are using NOW.

OK, let’s see how that translates into Mb (megabytes) and Gb (gigabytes).  Please note, the following are broad generalizations but will at least give you a guide so you can have some idea of how much data you might use on your trip.

Data transfer

Emails:  For emails that do not have attachments, it takes around 500 emails to make 1Mb (but bear in mind, that includes all those nasty spam emails that you never see!  You may have 3 spam emails going to your junk folder for every 1 you actually read).

Emails with attachments depend on the size of the attachment, but generally speaking it takes 2 or 3 emails with attachments to reach 1Mb.

Social Media:  2-3 social media posts equal 1Mb.

Video:  Standard video is around 250Mb/hr while HD is close to 1Gb (1024Mb).

Music:  Streaming music is 30Mb/hr.

Downloads:  Every app, song, game you download average out at around 4Mb each.

Web Surfing:  Approximately 15Mb/hr.

Talking:  This, along with video, is a real data guzzler!  Around 360Mb/hr.


Now, it’s time to do your calculations.

Take the respective numbers from your notebook, multiply them by how much data they use and then do the same for the next item.  When you are finished, tally up the number of Mb.

In some cases your carrier will quote you prices in Mb, others will quote you in Gb.

1MB = 1,024KB
1GB = 1,024MB

Some people are surprised at just how much data they use in an average month!

At least this way you know where that data is going, and you can make smart choices about where to use your (more expensive) data when you are overseas.

By Leigh St John, aka the Luxurious Nomad

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boingo Wifi Button On Mobile Showing Hotspot Or Internet Connection

What is Boingo Free Wifi?

Boingo-LogoBoingo?

OK, to begin with, Boingo is not free, however with being so inexpensive and convenient, it often feels like it is!

For a relatively small monthly fee (or pay as you go), Boingo claim to provide wifi hotspots in over one million places right across the globe.

The process is simple:

  • Download the app to any Mac, Windows 10, Android or iOS device (mobile, tablet and laptop)
  • Sign up for the package that best suits your needs
  • Voila!

Not only can you search for hotspots in any location, the app will automatically connect you when you arrive.

Once connected, you can do anything you would normally with your regular wifi service.

There are a multitude of pros for this service – price, convenience, availability…

The only real con (and it’s not much of one) is that some areas do not have as many hotspots as you might like.  However, in saying that – in ANY of the major centers in the world, you will be literally walking from one hotspot to the next to the next…

Some reviews have mentioned a problem with cancelling the monthly package when you no longer need it – I’ve never had that problem.

I suggest before heading off, you research your particular location by using their location finder.

Another benefit of using Boingo over free public hotspots is that Boingo uses a secure encrypted connection so your data is safer.

Do your homework before signing up for any service, but Boingo has worked well for me when I’m abroad (and that’s a lot!) and saved me a ton on international roaming charges!

If you need more information, click over to this article on staying connected when you travel.

By Leigh St John, aka the Luxurious Nomad

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