You do not need expensive or complex equipment to keep in touch when you are abroad. Pagers are an alternative to the mobile phone. Hutchison Telecom offers Euromessage, a paging service with reception in urban areas in France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland, but not Belgium. Owners of one of the company's message pagers can buy Euromessage for periods when they are travelling, either on its own or as an addition to a domestic paging service. This costs from pounds 17 a week plus VAT.

Simpler still is BT's Call Diversion service. This connects callers to you anywhere in the world, even to a mobile phone. The caller need never know where you are. But this service is indiscriminate and connects all calls, regardless of their importance. The recipient, not the caller, pays for the full cost of the diverted part of the call, which can be expensive. Nor is it possible to turn off Call Diversion from a remote phone, so you could find yourself paying an international rate for a double- glazing company to track you down.

For the occasional trip, a local secretarial bureau could handle calls at quite a low cost. Or there is the lowest cost option of all - a compliant relative or friend, armed with paper and a ballpoint pen.

Phone numbers:

Andest (VPA) 01494 429309

Apple 0800 127753

BT Mobile 0345 860 860

Hutchison Paging 0800 282826

Pace (Microlin Mac Pack) 01274 532000

Teleadapt 0181-421 4444.