On the phone on three continents

We are off to Jerusalem, the Greek Islands, Paris, England and Singapore in June. What is the least costly way to use mobile phones and email while in these countries and cities? Also, would a Cash Passport card be of use?

- H. Fitzpatrick, Wagga.

If you're travelling with a laptop or a smartphone, the cheapest way to check your email is to log in when you have free internet access.

Throughout the places on your itinerary, there are cafes, hotels and airports with free Wi-Fi internet. If you're not travelling with either, internet cafes are just about everywhere. If you want to up your laptop access, consider Boingo (boingo.com), the world's largest Wi-Fi network. Under Boingo's Europe Plus plan, for $US34.95 ($33) a month you get Wi-Fi access at more than 100,000 hot spots in Europe and the Middle East.

Boingo also has a mobile plan that connects any Wi-Fi-enabled mobile device or smartphone to the internet via more than 325,000

Wi-Fi hot spots around the globe for $US7.95 a month.

If you have Skype (skype.com) installed on your laptop or smartphone, whenever you have Wi-Fi access you can make voice calls to anywhere for a just a few cents a minute.

You need a prepaid or monthly Skype account to do this.

If you don't have a smartphone and you want to make calls from overseas, TravelSIM (travelsim.net.au) allows you to make and receive calls at a discount rate from your mobile phone in more than 190 countries. Although this is nowhere near as cost-effective as Skype, it is still cheaper than if you were to call from overseas using the roaming services of your Australian service provider.

The Travelex Cash Passport (cashpassport.com) is a useful way to access funds when you're on the road but its value is diluted by fees. When you buy your Travelex Cash Passport, you pay an initial card fee and an in-store reload fee.

You will also pay an ATM fee every time you use the card. If you top up the card via Bpay, 1 per cent is siphoned off as a reload fee. Compare this with the 28 Degrees MasterCard, (28degreescard.com.au), which has no international ATM fees, no reload fee and no international transaction fees on purchases.

More tips from the Tripologist

twitterFollow Traveller on Twitter @FairfaxTravel