Heading overseas? Don’t get stung by steep roaming charges.
A mobile phone is an essential travel accessory. But no one wants to return from an overseas jaunt to face thousands of dollars in excess roaming charges.
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How to save on global roaming
You have options when it comes to minimizing annoying roaming charges, giving you more time to focus on your vacation.
- Rent a device. You can rent devices that range from the most basic to the latest iPhone. Rents vary from $40 to $70 or more weekly, and most come with the ability to download contacts from the cloud for the duration of your travels.
- Try pay-as-you-go. Many operators offer data-only plans for the US traveler on the go. By pairing a SIM card with your unlocked device, you can connect to local networks for unlimited Internet access. Depending on the provider, costs can range from $10 for 24-hour plans to 30 days of 2Gb for $50.
- Use Wi-Fi only. Switch to airplane mode, and you can connect through Wi-Fi at any number of hot spots along your traveling route. Download WhatsApp, Skype or any other number of apps to text or call loved ones through Wi-Fi.
- Turn off third-party sync. Even if you turn off roaming and syncing, some third-party apps can override your settings. You may need to fully turn off syncing within each app’s settings.
The US has got some catching up to do when it comes to free public Wi-Fi. But you’ll find some 47.7 million public hot spots throughout Europe, Asia and beyond — which means you should have an easy time staying connected outside of a data plan.
Can’t I just use my existing phone?
In many cases, you can use your existing phone when traveling — but prepare to pay dearly for the privilege in the form of higher rates for data. You’ll also pay whenever you receive calls, as well as make them.
If you choose to use your own phone, take care to track your use so that the bill awaiting you at home isn’t a complete surprise. Several smartphone apps are available to help you monitor your data.
Bypass these costs by looking into a roaming deal with your network. Or buy a dedicated travel SIM card to use while overseas.