What would you do if you got this phone bill? I think I may have passed out. I mean…this is ridiculous but it’s a real bill my friend got after her trip to Europe. Unfortunately it isn’t uncommon for people to get huge bills like this when they travel if they don’t know what to do. Here are 5 tips to avoid a high phone bill when you travel overseas.
1. turn off data and only use WiFi
- If you have a smartphone you have the ability to turn off your data. If you do this, you won’t be able to access your internet through your cell phone provider. However, if you enable your WiFi you will be able to use the Internet while in cafes, restaurants, and anywhere else where WiFi is offered. Most establishments have free WiFi which makes it very easy to stay connected.
2. get an international plan
- Most (if not all) wireless companies offer some type of international plan. However, be very clear about the limits and costs of your plan. Sometimes you can go over what you are allowed and then be charged exorbitant rates for using the data you thought was included (this is what happened to my friend).
3. use free texting apps
- I am a huge fan of whatsapp. Every time I travel whatsapp is the texting app I use because it makes staying in touch so easy. It’s free and I text, call, and video chat my friends and family from all over the world. It’s one of my favorite travel apps and I can’t recommend it enough.
4. buy a local SIM card
- This may be tricky for some as you may be in a country where you don’t speak the language and you don’t feel comfortable trying to ask someone (when I was in Russia we walked into a store and used hand gestures and lots of pointing to buy a phone. We may have looked silly but it worked!)If you buy a local SIM card you simply change it out for the one currently in your phone and then purchase minutes/data for your new SIM (this can normally be done where you purchase the SIM card). Then when you run out of minutes or data you simply buy more. This way you can keep track of how much you are spending as you go.
NOTE: if your phone does not hold a SIM card, this option won’t work for you.
5. use calling cards from phone booths
- Believe it or not, you can still buy calling cards and use them in phone booths in some countries. I have done this in 3rd world countries often and it works well. Of course there is no data or internet with a calling card but this allows you to call who you need to without having any hidden fees. You buy your card upfront for the amount you want which means you are in control of how much you spend.
I know that many people use their phone for GPS when they travel. As much as I travel I have never once used my phone for GPS. I use maps. I’m all for technology but if you get a reliable map you can navigate your way to where you need to go without using data on your phone.
There you have it, 5 ways to avoid a high phone bill while traveling! Put these to use and you won’t have to ever worry about having a huge phone bill when you return from overseas.