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There are lots of worries about traveling with your devices so often many people try to not use their phones and tablets as much, or they get a shocking roaming bill when they return home. Whether it’s your phone not working in the country you are visiting, worrying about the cost of using data on your tablet when you are overseas or not knowing that you will be charged a per minute rate for answering your phone; this is a complete guide of how to stay connected when you travel internationally, economically, without out any dramas….
Will your phone work overseas?
Make sure that your phone supports the frequency band of the country you are traveling to. You can consult your user guide or call your network provider to find out. If you phone is quad band you are very unlikely to have issues on using it when you travel. Tri-band phones will not work in Central and South America. A dual band phone won’t work in Central and South America or Canada and USA.
Do you know your roaming charges?
While you are traveling internationally you will be charged by your existing network as well as the network in the country you are traveling to. Before you travel make sure you know the cost of receiving and making a call, SMS and using data. Even if you don’t plan on using your phone, you never know what is going to happen when you reach your destination. Also remember that smart phone automatically updates your software and apps even when it is switched off, so just because your phone isn’t turned on, it doesn’t mean you are avoiding roaming charges. Travel with a pay as you go SIM or international SIM to avoid roaming changes completely.
Do you understand data roaming?
When you access the internet overseas it can cost you a fortune, with a better understanding of how data is charged you can ensure you can keep your costs as low as possible. For example, streaming anything while you are away is likely to cost you substantially - don’t do it, unless you are certain that you are connected to Wi-Fi. Opening emails with big attachments can also use a lot of data so it’s best to just open what you need or wait until you have a Wi-Fi connection. You should switch off automatic updates while you travel (you can do this in the setting within the Google Play Store if you have an Android handset or Apple Store if you have an iPhone.) Keep data roaming switched off and just switch it on when you want to check emails, Facebook or browse the internet.
Have you prepared your devices?
Preparation is key! If you are well prepared you can ensure that all your travel apps are downloaded before you travel. Check that your travel apps are offline apps or you will eat through data order to use them, which could cost you a small fortune. If you plan to watch movies, listen to music or read ebooks, make sure you download them before you travel. You can even save you favourite blog articles and web pages for reading offline with an app called Pocket. Apps like Onavo extend are ideal for traveling as they compress data by as much as 5 times, meaning you get up to 5 times more data from your plan, without any additional cost.
Will you make calls back home?
If you think you might make calls back home make sure you have a cost effective solution to do this. There are some great international calling companies like www.cheaper-calls.com who enable you to make international calls extremely cheaply, or free using their app when connected to WiFi. Cheaper-Calls is particularly good for travellers as their calling app compresses data so much more that many other calling apps so the amount of data you consume when making a call is very small.
Do you have a plan?
As well as the device preparation it’s good to have a roaming solution in place. Some mobile networks offer international plans – but be careful as these are often set plans so you could be paying for calls, SMS and data that you aren’t using. You can receive calls for free when you travel with an international SIM card, which might be a better option as it will give you low cost data, SMS and calls in all the most popular travel destinations. As it’s a pay as you go solution you can’t overspend. Local SIM cards in the country you are traveling to are also an option, however topping up might be in another language and if you are traveling to more than one destination its hard for friends and family to know what number to contact you on as they don’t know what country SIM you are using. You should also check with your hotel if they have free Wi-Fi as this can save you a lot of money on data as you can purge all your emails and update all your apps when you are at the hotel, minimising the amount of data you will use. However, make sure you have a backup solution rather that solely replying on free WiFi – if you are lost and need to use navigation or need to access internet banking its good to know you can do so without fearing how much it will cost you.
There are lots of ways to stay connected when you travel, without having to spend a fortune. Find out more about what method is best for you.