Anyone who travels a lot already knows there are certain things you need to do before you leave the home office or just your home, especially if you’re going to travel aboard. In the past couple of weeks I’ve gone over a few checklist items, but now a couple other points have come up.
One thing I didn’t consider was letting my mobile phone carrier know that I’d be traveling aboard. It is already on the list to call my credit card providers, and if you’re going over seas it is always a good idea to let your bank or the card issuer know. This can make sure that your card doesn’t get declined while you travel. But I didn’t really think about calling the carrier, at least until it was mentioned to me this past weekend.
As I continue for my three-week trek aboard, my wife and I upgraded to BlackBerry Tour mobile handsets, as these will work throughout much of Europe and the Middle East. However, we didn’t realize that we’d have to sign up for an international data plan. At an additional $34.95 over our current domestic plan this isn’t exactly cheap, but considering that it can be about a dollar for every 10 minutes of Internet access at many cyber caf?s, this really isn’t all that bad. Our carrier even told us that they would prorate it for the days we were gone, but we were told to call a day or two ahead of time to make sure that it would be available when we land in Europe. So this is another thing to add to the to-do list, but one that absolutely needs doing.
Mobile Phones to be Transportation Pass in the U.K.
This week, it was announced that the government in the U.K. is looking at allowing travelers to have the ability to use mobile phones as ‘swipe and go’ cards for bus, rail and tube travel. Under the system, consumers could even pay for their journeys from home and thus reduce the time spent at ticket stands.
At turnstiles and other points of entry, a mobile handset would be used to allow access, and automatically deduct the fare. London travelers already have the excellent Oyster pre-paid card option, which is used by about 78 percent of riders in the city. This has been considered the cheapest and easiest way of getting around London, and mobile phones could be seen as an addition to this system.
If this is a success it could certainly take off in many other cities, such as New York, Paris, Tokyo, Toronto and basically anywhere that relies heavily on public mass transportation with buses, boats or subways.
But a few things no doubt need to be resolved. The first is whether such a system is even practical with the sheer number of phones available. Would this work with pre-paid phones, as well as feature phones and smartphones? And given that there are ever changing handsets, would the system manage to keep up. Nothing would be more annoying than dropping a load of money on a new cutting edge handset to find that it doesn’t work with the system, while the ultra cheap phones work fine. The other factors would be the operating systems, as there is no shortage of OS options available with handsets. This all would add potential costs to the transportation department.