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white cliffs of dover from the sea

White Cliffs of Dover ~ from the Sea!

white cliffs of dover from the sea

Want to visit the White Cliffs of Dover?  By far the best way is from the sea!

Want to visit the White Cliffs of Dover?  By far the best way is from the sea!

After travelling from St Leonard’s Warrior Square Station to Dover, via Ashford International Station (the trip is about one and a half hours), then a short taxi ride to the seafront, I met the crew at Dover Sea Safari for my journey out into the English Channel and exploring the white cliffs.

Want to visit the White Cliffs of Dover?  By far the best way is from the sea!

What a fabulous adventure!

…and before I step you through my photos, check out this video I found on YouTube – we didn’t have waves quite as high, but it was definitely just as much fun!

 

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…and although the sky looks ok in most of these photos, there was a huge patch of grey/green/black clouds that looked menacing – I did, however, inform our captain that I had placed an order for no rain to fall until we were safely back from our trip – and………  Wish granted!

white cliffs of dover from the sea

In what looks like an over-sized inflatable dingy (but is in fact a phenomenally sturdy RHIB powerboat), under the direction of our boat captain and tour guide, James, we cast off into Dover Harbour… (oh, and the man on the dock is John – he’s with the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution))

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This is the old Customs Watch House – well, not quite as old as it looks. Built in 1909 and designed by Arthur Beresford Pite, this building was home to the navy during both WWI and WWII.  After the end of WWII when it was no longer necessary to heavily protect the English Channel, and as commercial shipping increased to a point the current harbour was unable to support it, leisure boating and ferry terminals became the residents in the harbour and as such, there was no further maritime use for Customs Watch House.  It is now apparently used as office space for an aggregates company.

white cliffs of dover from the sea

…then it’s out past the Dover Breakwater…

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Constructed of concrete blocks from 26 to 42 tons each, the surface of the breakwater was faced above sea level with granite. Housing two cast iron lighthouses, the island breakwater is 4212 feet in length, running east to west between the southerly ends of the Eastern Arm and the Admiralty Pier, with the east end curveing to north.

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Built between 1898 and 1909, it was designed as the southern breakwater to a vast artificial harbour called Admiralty Harbour with its purpose to provide a refuge for the British Fleet.

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In the First World War, this was a haven for battleships and submarines protecting the Channel, and in the Second World War the breakwater played a key part in the Dunkirk evacuation as 200,000 men were returned from Dunkirk to Dover in eight days.

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…and now for the cliffs!

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What makes the White Cliffs of Dover white?

They are made out of chalk – just like the type of stuff we used to use on blackboards (ok, now I am really showing my age).

The chalk layers built up gradually over millions of years and are formed from the skeletal remains of minute green algae.

…and if you look closely, you will see horizontal black lines – this is flint.

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OK, so what’s with the caves?

Many of the caves in the cliffs were used for smugglers – but a large proportion were used during WWI and WWI.  In fact, until recently, people still used the zig-zag steps that were carved by the armed forces into the rock to get down to this beach – that is until a chunk of the cliff broke off (see on the right hand side of the photo, there is a gap in the path and a huge rock on the ground with a crack in it).

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Hemp and matches on the same ship?

Next to the zig-zag stairway, you will notice a straight line down the face of the cliff.  This was the result of ropes being used (before the stairway was built) to rescue people from the wreck of the SS Falcon whose cargo of hemp and matches caught fire.  Seriously! Some bright spark (pun intended) thought it was a good thing to put them both on the same boat.

At low tide, it is still possible to see the remains of the shipwreck.

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Here below you will see a much deeper groove carved into the cliff-face.

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This was as a result of saving people and cargo from in 1910 from the Preussen shipwreck.  Built in 1902, she was at the time the world’s only ship with five masts carrying six square sails on each mast.

Here is a photo from Wikipedia showing her in full sail – wasn’t she magnificent!!!

preussen

Unfortunately after encountering bad weather, she collided with the steamer Brighton and although she wasn’t severly injured and the captain found safe anchorage, the weather worsened and she was driven ashore at Crab Bay.

Among her cargo of precious items, were reportedly twelve German grand pianos – with the running joke for sometime being that every house near Crab Bay now had a grand piano – I wonder where they came from?  🙂

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These houses once owned by Noel Coward, were sold to Ian Fleming with Fleming actually living in the house on the right for some time and writing many of his famous James Bond novels there.

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Here we find the beautiful Walmer Castle, one of the favourite residences of one of my favourite Royals, The Queen Mother.

Built during the reign of King Henry VIII, it is now home of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, with the flying flag indicating he was in residence that day.

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…and on our way home, that’s when we opened the throttle away we went blasting through the waves doing doughnuts, infinities… Sooooo cool!

I had a blast! Thank you all.

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

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?

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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

 

travel bucket list

Creating Your Travel Bucket List

travel bucket listDo you have a travel bucket list?

Creating your travel bucket list should be fun. It is what should inspire you to lead a more exciting and fulfilling life. But, sometimes, it can be difficult and overwhelming creating one. You have so much to see and experience in the world and only just little time to do it that you might be wondering what places of interest you should incorporate into your travel bucket list.

So, how do you begin creating your travel list?

The first thing you need to do is to get some basic tools ready. Whether it’s on physical paper or online (my favourite tool for this is Evernote), you need a place not only to write down your ideas when you get them, but also to add web clippings and other information as you come across things. Also, as you accomplish each item on your list, you will cross it off.

Accomplishing each of them can be incredibly satisfying – at least it certainly has been for me!  Here’s my bucket-list, complete with both items achieved and those still to achieve.

Now, grab your pen or open your program, and start brainstorming all the exciting and wonderful places you would like to visit in not too distant future.

Your bucket list should be very personal. You might include all the travel destinations you have always dreamed of. Think back to the periods you were younger and places you dreamed of visiting when you grew up. If you had wanted to travel to many parts of the world, why not list them down now?

As people age, they often tend to dismiss their childhood dreams as unattainable and unrealistic. However, these childhood dreams can be a great resource for your travel list ideas, and depending on your present lifestyle or taste, you can turn these dreams into achievable goals. You will discover that creating your list from your fantasies can be fun.

If you have heard about some fantastic cities like Paris, Sao Paulo, London, Dubai; and some countries such as Guatemala, Italy, South Africa and other beautiful travel destinations, you might include them on your list.

Also, think about your interests or hobbies. Which of those travel destinations can provide you with your hobbies or interest? Then, proceed to list them in your travel list.

When you look at my bucket list, you will also see activities such as swim with dolphins, go horse-riding in the snow, or be a volunteer at “il Club di Guilietta” (ref ‘Letters to Juliet’)…

As you progress through life, ensure that your travel bucket list notebook or app is always within your reach. As time goes on, your notebook/app will remind you of fantastic places you want to visit.

Sometimes we just need a little reminder of our dreams in order to take the first step toward them…

…and let me know what amazing items are on your list.  You may inspire me to add to mine!

staycation

What is a Staycation?

Staycations – What are they and why are they sometimes better than a vacation?

staycationA staycation is essentially a short period of time – even if it’s simply a weekend – where you either stay home, or you book into a hotel somewhere near where you live.

Many families prefer a staycation not only because it’s affordable, but it often promotes better rest and relaxation. A staycation, by the very nature of the fact that there is little or no travel involved, will give you more time to relax and restore energy.

While travelling to exotic locations can be amazing, it can also take a toll physically and financially.  Enjoyment is not measured based on the money you spent, but the moments and experiences you gained.

If expensive weekend getaways have no room in your budget, instead try staycation. If you’re looking for more staycations ideas, check out the list below:

1. Laser Tag or Paint-balling: You can invite some of your friends or families to join and battle with you. There are numerous laser tags and paintball facilities everywhere, you can use Google to locate the nearest one.

2. Visit National Park: This is acknowledged as the country’s greatest treasure. If you have National park in the area, make sure to visit the ranger station first to pick-up a Junior Ranger Kit and complete required activities to get a badge. A National Parks Passports is also available in the park’s gift shops; you can assemble numerous passport stamps every time you visit.

3. Local Theater: Check the theater website or local newspaper to see the latest musicals, family friendly shows, concerts and plays. This is a wonderful way to spend your night with children, family, friends or special someone.

4. Amusement Park: If Disney World is quite far and expensive, it does not mean that you cannot enjoy in a nearby themed park. Local amusement parks offer unique features that can make you thrilled, fun and excited. Since this activity is often a lot cheaper than other vacation ideas, you can also treat your loved ones in a fancy dinner.

5. Local Museum for Children: If you have children at home it’s best to find staycation ideas that they can appreciate and enjoy. This type of staycation will definitely fit your budget. Many of them offer a variety of interactive and fun activities that can keep you busy the entire day.

6. Visit Aquarium or Zoo: Children are not the only ones who adore animals. Even adults can spend time seeing and enjoying animals, too. Before you go, make sure to check if they offer special programs – some offer opportunities to feed, or Junior Zookeeper programs. You may have to pack some lunch since zoo fare is often quite pricey.

7. Local Library: I love, love love libraries!  The majority of libraries offer family friendly activities and events.

8. Minor or Major League Sport Event: Major leagues are really fun but these are quite pricey especially for a family of 4, 5 or more. Good thing, most cities have minor leagues that can provide you same experience but at an affordable price.

9. Spa-Cation:  Another of my all-time favourites!  Consider treating yourself to a day at the spa, then come home to blissful music, candles and your choice of beverage (mine is good red wine!)

Whatever form of staycation you choose, it’s always nice to know that not only are you saving money, and saving travel time, but you are also supporting your own local economy.

By Leigh St John, aka the Luxurious Nomad

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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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stay connected when travelling

How to stay connected when you Travel?

Travel wifi?  Free hotspots?  Skyroam?  Boingo?

Wifi Free On Smartphone Showing WiFi Broadcasting Area And Signal ReceiverNot sure how to stay connected when you travel?

Travelling is fun and enjoyable – and part of that fun is when you capture memories and scenic views and upload them to social networking sites.  Sharing with your tribe is one of the best parts!

In terms of business travel – and especially when living the ‘laptop lifestyle‘ – you still need to keep in touch.

Staying Connected while you Travel

Planes, Trains and, well, let’s just stick with planes and trains for the moment…

Most major international airports offer free wifi (although it tends to run at a snail’s pace – but something is often better than nothing) – and even the ones that don’t, all have some form of wifi available, usually at a fee per hour.

Another work-around is that many provide computer stations that are free to use, so if you don’t need something that is saved locally on your laptop, you might be better served using one of their terminals.

Once in the air, many major airlines offer a pay-as-you-go wifi connection during flight.

Trains are similar – many major stations have free wifi and some of the more major journeys offer free or paid wifi onboard.

wifi in rental carWifi in my rental car?

Yes, you read that correctly.  Many car rental companies now offer (at a price) the option of either having wifi in your vehicle or renting a portable wifi until that you can take with you.

Hotspots

Hotspots are places that provide free internet connection.  These hotspots can be physical locations such as a Starbucks (public), or through someone’s existing internet connection (private).  Let’s take them one at a time…

Public Hotspots

You will find free public wifi hotspots at places such as Starbuck (currently neck and neck with McDonalds for the fastest wifi speeds), McDonalds, Tim Horton’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Panera.  In addition, a lot of hotels have free wifi in their lobby – and you might also be surprised at how many cool restaurants, bars and what I refer to as ‘watering holes’ have free wifi.

free wifi irish pubFor instance, at this glorious Irish Pub…  Free wifi!

An easy way to check is to do a search of available networks…  Often they will have the name of the establishment listed and you simply click and connect.

Alternatively, just ask the staff – they are usually more than happy to help – and in some instances the wifi will be free and all you need is the password that they are then all to happy to give you!

Private Hotspots

wifi when travellingA private hotspot is where you configure your device, for instance your phone, to allow your laptop to connect and share your data.  While this is a great idea, if you are on an ‘unlimited data’ plan, many carriers do not allow you to turn your phone into a hotspot.  In those instances, it’s worth getting a dongle.

What’s a dongle?

If you’re travelling in your home country, it’s a good idea to have an internet dongle from your existing data carrier.  This is a gizmo that plugs into the USB port on your laptop and gives you a private wifi connection.

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

Or, my favorite solution = Skyroam!

I have written a separate post on it here, but in short, Skyroam is a global wifi mobile hotspot that gives you unlimited data, you can connect up to five devices, it is pay-as-you-go, and it gives you SIM-card free coverage in Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa, Australia.

International Roaming

International roaming is using your existing phone carrier’s data while away from your native country.  While certainly useful, international roaming can be ghastly expensive.

Other tips…

Here are some other helpful tips on how to stay connected while travelling:

1. Check the service provider of your mobile phone – CDMA vs GSM?  Rather than me explaining the differences and why they matter, here is the lowdown from the experts:  http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2407896,00.asp

2. Is your phone unlocked? – If you want to use a local SIM card overseas, make sure that your phone is not tied with any mobile carrier, this might create major problems in connecting with other people while you are on a trip. Get your phone unlocked, or purchased an international roaming packages, they might be expensive but it is worth it.

3. How much data do you intend to use? – Try calculating texts, calls and data you might consume during your trip. This will be a big help in budgeting your money.

4. Use some applications for calling or texting rather than using SMS and voice-calls – There are so many applications that will provide free instant messages (IM) and calls and other applications that are pay-per-use. Facebook, Skype, and Twitter are just some of the free applications where you can place free IMs and calls.

5. Seek free Wi-Fi networks – As listed above, there are many options for obtaining free wifi, however always consider the fact that there are other people using the same free Wi-Fi you are using.

6. Get your own Wi-Fi hotspot – Getting your own Wi-Fi hotspot is very convenient, although the fact that purchasing your own portable Wi-Fi hotspot may be a bit expensive, it is more convenient.

Boingo?

What on earth is a boingo, I hear you ask?  It’s a lifesaver!  🙂

I go into more detail in this article on Boingo, but the short version is that Boingo is a monthly subscription service that provides wifi hotspots all over the world.

Is my information secure?

is my data secure when travellingAny time you use a public network, there is always a risk – however I’ve never had an issue and as long as you take precautions (like not logging into your bank account when you are on the public network at a fast-food restaurant) the likelihood of an issue in my experience is minimal.

It’s all about being aware, mindful and sensible.

If I can answer any of your specific questions, please let me know!

By Leigh (Bella) St John, aka the Luxurious Nomad

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