Social media and Google Maps are tops with Aussie travellers

By David Flynn, December 4 2013
Social media and Google Maps are tops with Aussie travellers

Facebook and Google Maps are among the most popular apps used by Australians when travelling overseas, although a massive 92% adopt strategies to minimise their roaming bill.

Those tactics range from disabling roaming and seeking out free Wi-Fi hotspots to buying a local SIM card. However, on the flip side, it means that almost one out of every 10 Australians makes no effort to reduce their mobile roaming charges.

The survey, conducted by Galaxy Research on behalf of Vodafone, polled 1,255 Australians.

After email, the most four popular smartphone apps among travellers were Facebook (used by 55% of survey respondents), Google Maps (38%), Skype (26%) and TripAdvisor (25%).

According to the study, almost six million Australian adults travelled overseas in the last 12 months, and 85% of the travellers used their mobile phones while away.

“Australians love their smartphones, and now more than ever, mobile connectivity is becoming an essential part of our travel plans, along with tickets, a passport and credit card,” said Vodafone CMO Kim Clarke.

Naturally enough, Vodafone is also spruiking its globetrotter-friendly Red Roaming plans which let travellers use their phone's voice, SMS and data allowance overseas for a flat $5 per day in New Zealand, the USA, Europe and the UK. This includes unlimited standard calls and text messages back to Australia as well as the country you’re currently in.

More roaming, less worry

This year has seen Vodafone, Telstra and Optus each take a long-overdue axe to their roaming rates.

Telstra subscribers can grab a Casual Traveller Data Pack from $29 for 100MB to $350 for 1.5GB which can be used in some 50 countries throughout Asia and Europe, along with New Zealand, the UK and the USA.

Those represent substantial drops from Telstra’s previous roaming packs, which ranged from $29 for a laughable 20MB to a whopping $1800 for 2GB.

Even if you haven’t loaded up with a data pack (or if you exceed the pack's limit), the charge for casual Internet usage has also been slashed from $15/MB to $3/MB.

However, as welcome as these changes are, they still rate behind the deals that Optus and Vodafone have put on the table.

Optus’ streamlined roaming plans divide the world into two travel zones with data costs varying from 50c to $1 per MB.

Travellers to Zone 1 countries can also purchase a $10/day Travel Pack for what the carrier promises as ‘unlimited talk and text’ plus 50MB per day of data.

Vodafone’s Red plans span from $50 for 1.5GB of data to $85 for 5GB of data (on a SIM-only basis) with optional monthly data packs of $10 for 1GB and $20 for 2.5GB, although the carrier's current Double Data promotion boosts those data caps to as much as 10GB per month for the next two years.

Also read: Vodafone offers double data on Red Roaming plans

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

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