(BPT) - Whether you're traveling solo, as a couple or with your entire extended family, there's one thing you likely won't forget to bring on your trip: your smartphone or tablet. Nearly two-thirds of Americans are now smartphone owners, according to the Pew Research Center, and almost half own a tablet. Right next to socks and a toothbrush, your mobile device is one of the most important and useful items you'll bring with you.
These devices are meant to be mobile and while on the road, our mobile devices help us navigate new places, entertain us during long flights and keep us connected to back home. However, what might throw your trip into a tailspin is the amount of data these devices can consume. Streaming video, photo sharing, travel apps and Internet browsing can eat up data fast and if you don't have the right data plan you could end up having your trip cost a lot more in overage fees.
And trends show our need for data is growing exponentially. In fact, individual data usage will increase from almost 2 GB used per month in 2014 in North America to almost 11 GB in 2019, according to Cisco's Mobile Visual Networking Index. The last thing you want to come home to is a huge bill of data overages because you or your child used too much data. To get the most out of your smartphone and tablet without the headaches of low batteries and data charges, consider these expert travel tech tips:
Connect to Wi-Fi whenever possible
One simple proactive step can dramatically decrease your data usage: connect to Wi-Fi. While not always possible, Wi-Fi is widely available at airports, train stations, restaurants and many other public places. If you're dealing with a delay, connect to the local Wi-Fi network and you can check email, surf the web or shop online until your heart's content.
Download playlists and movies
Taking a long plane trip or heading out on an epic road trip? Traveling to another country? Download playlists and movies before you leave so your content is ready to go when you're not able to be connected to a network. You'll enjoy immediate access to what you want even in airplane mode or without network coverage.
Streaming video and music can use a ton of data so be careful what you choose to watch. T-Mobile recently launched 'Binge On' which lets customers enjoy video streaming from top select partners like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, ESPN and more without using their high-speed data bucket. That means watching the game, catching up on your favorite series or movies for the kids won't cost you any data on T-Mobile. And the best part is, it's automatically included in qualifying plans. T-Mobile also offers a similar program for music streaming as well. Learn more at www.T-Mobile.com.
Ready devices for travel abroad Stay charged
It's important to know your plan and ready your devices for traveling to other countries. Call your carrier to make sure you're covered and avoid outrageous international roaming fees. If you are constant international traveler, check out T-Mobile's Simple Choice plan, you get LTE data and texting at no extra charge in more than 140 countries. And, as an added bonus, T-Mobile customers traveling to Canada or Mexico, can use their phone just like the US. The company's Simple Choice plan is one of the best in wireless for people that travel a lot.
Nothing is worse than running out of battery while traveling. Your directions, your entertainment, and some argue, your sanity, are gone! If you're road tripping, remember to pack a car charger. If you plan to be away from a charging port, an extra battery or portable charger can be a life saver. Only have a few minutes to charge before takeoff? Charge devices faster by switching to 'airplane mode' before plugging in.