How South Africans use their phones when abroad

A new survey reveals the mobile phone user habits of South Africans when traveling abroad.

According to Travelstart’s “cellphones in travel” survey, most South Africans (92%) say the international roaming charges meted out by local network providers are too expensive.

When asked if they activate international roaming when going abroad, a quarter of 4,000 respondents said they are winning the war against expensive roaming fees by purchasing a local sim card at their destination.

As many as 21% said they only connect using free Wi-Fi, while 19% said they activated SMS services only.

A further 7% say they prefer to switch off completely; however, 21% will activate all services when traveling abroad including voice calls, data and text messaging.

The survey also revealed the user patterns of travelers once overseas:

  1. Staying in touch (voice calls, SMS, instant messaging services and email) – 77%
  2. Photography – 58%
  3. Social networking – 31%
  4. Using a map app such as Google Maps – 30%
  5. Checking in (using a service such as Facebook or Foursquare) – 13%
  6. Checking reviews/recommendations for activities/restaurants (TripAdvisor, Yelp, Zomato etc.) – 11%
  7. Finding hotels, flights etc – 10%
  8. Consulting travel guides – 5%

Thirty-one percent of respondents are comfortable using their cellphone to book and pay for flights, according to Travelstart.

Mobile check-ins are marginal with only 2% preferring an airlines mobile site or app over traditional methods such as online check-in (45%), counter check-in (43%), self-service (9%), and curbside (1%).

The amount of passengers who don’t switch their switch cellphones off when they fly (2%), or just engage flight mode for the duration of the trip (28%), also stood out in the survey.

The South African Civil Aviation Authority restricts the use of cellphones in flight, with most local carriers allowing flight mode after takeoff and before landing only; otherwise the devices are required to be switched off completely.

“The issue of mobile phones onboard aircraft is an ongoing pain point for passengers and crew alike; this follows a Travelstart survey run in 2013 which found that up to 15 phones are left on during every flight,” Travelstart said.

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How South Africans use their phones when abroad