Worried about roaming charges on your winter sports holiday? By planning ahead it is possible to have maps and GPS positioning on your phone without incurring data charges.
Most smartphones data roam by default, and this allows you to get instant notifications from apps such as Facebook and Twitter. However you can turn this off and still use ViewRanger, which, unlike Google Maps, does not require data roaming because the maps and routes can be pre-loaded onto the handset.
“With the ViewRanger App you can download all the mapping you need before you leave home. Then – after disabling data roaming to avoid charges – you can still use the GPS facility to show your location on a map, record a track, and use Buddy Beacon.” says Ben Howard,ViewRanger’s keen downhill skier.
How to... create saved maps (automatically cache online maps)
How to... download Premium map tiles
Free open ski mapping (OpenPisteMap), which shows ski-runs, lifts, contours, and other useful amenities, is available for all the alpine regions such as Austria, France, Italy, Switzerland and other popular winter holiday locations such as USA and Canada.
It is also possible to purchase Premium topographic mapping from the national mapping agency of these countries. For example, Swisstopo in Switzerland is available from ViewRanger in a number of scales. This allows you freedom to find the snow – or to go walking if it fails to deliver!
By selecting recommended routes and guided trails, compiled by both top publishers and individuals who want to share their winter holiday tips, you obtain invaluable knowledge about the local area.
How to... Search and download routes
Ben explains, "Before you leave on holiday, browse the routes in the area you are going to. Download a selection that you think you might enjoy. Many have descriptions and photographs of the route so that you know how long it is and what you might see. Try to include variations in length and scenery in your choices so you aren’t limited when you arrive.”
"Oh, and if you're using Premium mapping (not open maps) remember to also download the Altitude Files for the country before you go! This allows you to see the height of any given point on the map, and to also get accurate (not solely GPS) altitude readings when you record a track."
Altitude files are available for almost all the Premium Maps and can be downloaded for free, in-app: Main menu > Store > By country > [chose the country/countries where you're going] > Altitude Data > Download.
Wiki - FAQ - Altitude Files
Top tips for using your phone abroad:
Switch off data roaming:
- iPhone – Settings > General > Cellular > Data Roaming – Off.
- Android – Uncheck data roaming at Settings>Wireless & Networks >Mobile Networks.
If you want to use data roaming when abroad:
- Contact your network provider to talk about data bundles available to purchase.
Maintain battery power:
- If you have taken your phone abroad in case of an emergency, battery power is essential. Reducing the brightness of your screen and closing any apps running in the background will increase your battery life.
ViewRanger Wiki - FAQ - Battery and power saving
Use free Wi-Fi:
- Identify a café or restaurant offering free Wi-Fi and use this to do any data applications, such as checking your emails, or social media.
Buy a local sim card:
- If you are staying for a long period of time consider purchasing a local pay as you go sim card with a pre-installed data bundle.
And remember to save your maps before you go!
- Most apps don’t have the ability to save mapping, so they will not work unless data roaming is activated. However, apps such as ViewRanger do work without data roaming, as long as the map has already been downloaded to the device.
Wiki - How to create saved maps (automatically cache online maps)
Wki - Downloading premium map tiles