How to Avoid a Huge Cell Phone Bill When Traveling Overseas

Before the days of unlimited calls, people had to pay close attention to the minutes they used on their cell phones. But when traveling overseas, it is important to pay attention to both phone and more importantly data usage. Most people don’t realize that even if you don’t open the email, the fact that it came into your phone means it is eating up data. In order to avoid a big for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, use these tips on how to avoid a huge cell phone bill when traveling overseas.

Get an International Plan

Whereas chatting while overseas used to mean an inevitably high bill, now that is not necessarily the case. Various cell phone carriers, such as T-Mobile and Sprint, have international plans that are free for their subscribers. Sprint, for example, has drastically increased the number of countries in which its plan works. With the global roaming plan, you get calls for 20 cents a minute plus free texts and (slow) data. Or, in some countries, you can elect an alternate plan with free calls and texts and up to a certain number of GBs of data for free.


Use Skype or FaceTime or Whatsapp for Messaging and Calls

Isn’t modern technology grand? If you and your contact back home both have iPhones or even Apple devices, you can FaceTime. You can also use Skype for free video calls across the board. And Whatsapp is great for text messaging and even calls as well. There are a wide number of options out there for using these apps to stay in touch with your friends and family back at home.


Turn Off the Data

Please, please don’t make the mistake of thinking that if you don’t surf the web that you are not using data. You will be in for a rude awakening when you return home.

Even when you are not searching the web or using an app that needs data, your phone can still be using data. You know those emails that come through to your phone? Even if you don’t open them, their delivery to your phone uses data. And if you are like me and have around seven email accounts,that data can add up quickly.

So go into your settings and turn off your cellular data. Only use WiFi when overseas if you don’t have a plan that covers data. WiFi will be faster anyway.


Snag a Local Cell

In some locations, if you are going to be in an area for an extended time period and your phone doesn’t work in that locale, it may be a good option to rent a local cell phone. Then, if you need to make local calls, you are on the local network and calls are much cheaper. Then you can just buy the minutes you need. And if you contact your cell phone provider before heading to your destination, they may have discounts on cell rental services as an incentive to you.


Screenshot the Vitals

This is good travel advice even when not traveling internationally. When traveling, you always want to either print out or have copies of your confirmation information in case a mixup has occurred. But instead of having to search through your email while standing at the font desk at a hotel in Paris (while running up data charges), a better option is to screenshot all of the pertinent information so that you have it at your fingertips. You may, however, still want to have printouts in case something happens to your phone (or it simply dies). Remember, sometimes technology can fail.


What’s your favorite method for saving on communicating while traveling abroad? Sound off!


I am a lawyer. I am a journalist. I am a writer. I am a photographer. And I love to travel.

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