5 things you need to know about taking your phone abroad

Now that pretty much everyone has a smart phone, taking your phone abroad has become more complex.  Simply turning it off will not prevent you from being changed hefty data roaming fees.  Here are a few simple tips to make sure you don’t get a huge mobile phone bill when you return home from your relaxing holiday.

Phone

Receiving calls

Don’t forget that answering your phone while you are travelling internationally can cost a lot so unless the call is vital, don’t answer it!

Voicemail

Make sure you turn your voicemail off as you will be changed the international part of the call for every voicemail someone leaves you while you are away; this is a per minute rate.

Data roaming

Your smart phone automatically keeps you up to date with the latest news, updates and social activity.  It does this by connecting to the internet in the background while you are unaware.  While travelling internationally this can cost you thousands depending on where you are travelling to, you’ve probably seen some stories in the news.  Turning your phone off makes no difference; you will still use your data.  To avoid these costs ensure you turn off data roaming before you travel.

Contract phones

If you have a contract phone you should either leave your SIM at home and take a pay as you go SIM, or set a limit with your provider to ensure you don’t get an extortionate bill when you return home.

Apps

Travel apps are great and very useful while you are away, however many of them need you to connect to the internet which can cost you a small fortune.  Instead, download travel apps that are available offline, these are just as useful and won’t eat through your data.

Andrea Crome is Marketing Manager at WorldSIM.

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Comments (5)

  1. Anastasia says:

    Tell your provider that you are going abroad and where. Ask about packages called Bolt Ons to minimise cost.

    Instead of a smartphone, use tablets and the free wi-fi abroad to connect to internet.

    I’ve rung back England from Greece every evening for a month and it cost me next to nothing, with a Europe Bolt On, with a once paid fee before I left the UK. This included being called from the UK.

  2. Jill says:

    You can also get a GSM unlocked cell phone and pick up a local SIM card when you reach your destination. I’ve done it all around Europe and in India–it’s a lot easier than dealing with roaming, especially if you’re traveling long-term or if you keep going back to the same place!

  3. Amanda says:

    Great tips! I would also add that if you do plan to use your phone internationally, check with your provider to be sure international calling is enabled before you leave, as they won’t enable it while you’re out of the country. I learned this the hard way a few years back.

    We spend a lot of time in the Bahamas, so we do as Jill suggests above. We had one of our old phones unlocked, and we bought a local SIM card in the Bahamas for $15 or so. Then, we just buy prepaid minutes and add them to the phone. So much more affordable than roaming, even with the international plan offered by our cell company.

  4. Patricia Morfee says:

    When we go to Mexico, I buy a cell phone there around $28 with free minutes. Then buy prepaid cards when needed.

  5. Jeff Mac says:

    If you have had your phone more than 90 days and are in good standing with your carrier you can often get them to unlock your smartphone. Once you do that you can buy a local pre-paid SIM at your destination.

    This gives you a local number (which you often need to make restaurant reservations) as well as data and texting at a much more reasonable rate. If you have a Skype or Google Voice account you can also connect or forward that number to the international number. You can give crucial people at home that local number which can reach you while you are abroad but you will only be charged that services forwarding rates, which are far lower than international roaming or long distance.

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