Call and Text for Free While Traveling Internationally
trvlvip has you covered with some practical, real world (real big world) caveats and advice for communicating while traveling the world. Have you or someone you know ever experienced this scenario?
I’ve got a smartphone or tablet – I’m sure it’ll work over there.
You arrive in a foreign land and turn on your cell phone. You connect to the local carrier and ta-da! It looks just like it does at home. Seemingly you’re all set. So you send some texts and emails to let your loved ones know you arrived safely. Maybe you stream some funny cat videos or language lessons from YouTube. You take a bunch of selfies and text and email those and upload them to Facebook to bask in the “wish you were here” pose!
Fast forward a few weeks – yikes! You are appalled to see your extremely large cell phone bill! Think we’re making it up? Can’t happen to you? Check this out: Stuck With a $10,000 Cellphone Bill – WSJ
How to Avoid This Scenario:
Do a little research before you go. Chat with your cell phone provider to make sure you are on the right plan before your travel starts and understand the charges for data, calls and texts.
If you don’t have an international calling plan, turning off your cellular data and voice roaming before you touch down in that foreign land will save you a lot of money.
And Wi-Fi will be your best friend. You can make free phone calls to almost anywhere in the world via a Wi-Fi connection using services like Skype, Viber and Facetime with others who use those services as well.
Texting can often cost at least 50 cents per text without a special international plan. With Wi-Fi, use iMessage (for Apple users), WhatsApp or HeyWire to exchange free text messages with others who also use these free apps.
And more money saving options for travelers are being introduced. The EU has plans to end roaming in all of Europe by 2017, and the many of the big US carriers, as well as Apple, have introduced new plans to help with the cost of data roaming:
- In November 2015, Verizon introduced the new TravelPass (you have to enroll), which allows you to use your regular data and calling plan (as you do in the US) for $10 per day in more than 65 countries and just $2 per day in Canada and Mexico; review the participating countries before you travel
- T-Mobile now offers free international data roaming and texting on its Simple Choice plans when traveling in over 140 countries worldwide; calling, text and 4G data is free in Mexico and Canada; and in all other countries texting is free, calls are 20 cents per minute and data speed is limited to a slow 2G (you have the option to pay for a higher speed)
- Sprint offers free Global Roaming in 60 countries across most of Latin America, Canada, Japan, Russia and Europe; speed is limited to a slow 2G (you have the option to pay for a higher speed) and the service is not yet available in much of Asia, the Middle East and Africa
- AT&T’s international plans aren’t as competitive and range from $30 for 120MB of data to $120 for 800MB of data with a discounted plan for Mexico
- Apple SIM for iPads connects travelers with affordable local data networks in over 90 countries; if you have an iPad with Wi-Fi + Cellular capability, you can buy the SIM card from Apple for $5 if your device doesn’t already have one
Finally, if you return from a trip and find you’ve incurred large charges, simply call your cell phone company right away. Give them your mea culpa and then plead for forgiveness. Some companies may backdate to an appropriate, money-saving calling plan to cover the days you were traveling. If they do, say “thank you” to them on Twitter.
Keep these money saving tips in your back pocket as you plan and then complete your next memorable international trip!
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