Travel advice: data roaming charges revisited

Browsing the web on your mobile using Opera Mini (; free) instead of the default Android, iPad or iPhone browser could help conserve your data allowance, because Opera compresses pages before displaying them.

Be offline whenever possible. It’s easy to forget that many apps work in the background even when you’re not using them. Make sure data services are switched off when you’re not actively browsing. only use travel guide or mapping apps that store everything offline rather than needing to connect to the web.

Nokia owners have a head start with this, because Nokia’s Ovi Maps are stored on the handset. Remember that using GPS shouldn’t consume data, so if you have the map on your handset already you can navigate as easily as if you had data-hungry Google Maps open.

Remember Wi-Fi. Your phone’s 3G isn’t the only way to get online – most smartphones will also connect via Wi-Fi, which generally offers quicker download speeds. Check with your destination’s tourist office to see if free public Wi-Fi schemes are accessible to visitors. Regular travellers should consider a subscription with a global wireless ISP network such as Boingo ( the Boingo Mobile plan costs £3.95 per month and provides unlimited Wi-Fi access to over 325,000 hot spots worldwide from any mobile device. Failing that, make sure you have at least downloaded a wireless hot spot-finding app such as JiWire ( or

Cheaper still, if you have broadband at home, join the Fon network ( In return for sharing some of your home bandwidth with other travelling Fon users, you get free access to all their hot spots worldwide. the best coverage is in Europe and Japan, including around 30,000 free Fon spots in France and 5,000 in Spain. Check coverage in your destination at Most broadband users will need a Fonera router (£37.95) to split their home bandwidth securely, but BT customers can join without buying any extra equipment at

More queries from readers

Ann Edmonds writesWe celebrate an anniversary next year and would like to rent a beach house on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Sophie Butler, consumer correspondent, repliesTry Owners Direct ( and and

Peter Pass writesDo you know of any cruise itineraries which concentrate on Mediterranean islands?

Sophie Butler repliesThomson cruises include Majorca, Menorca, Corsica and Sicily. P & O Cruises, Oceania, Seabourn and Azamara also include island-based itineraries. for contacts and more information, see

Angela Dutton writesFor my husband’s 60th birthday, I’m organising a family gathering in the Cotswolds or around great Malvern. Anywhere lovely to stay and eat?

Sophie Butler repliesThe Cottage in the Wood (01684 588860; in Malvern Wells; double b & b from £99) or the Redesdale Arms in Moreton-in-Marsh (01608 650308;; double b & b from £105).

Elena River writesWe’d like to get away for New Year, combining a city break with culture and celebration.

Sophie Butler repliesArblaster & Clarke (01730 263111; has a four-night tour to Budapest, departing December 29, at £995 per person, including transfers, accommodation, opera tickets and gala dinner. Flights extra.

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