Travel is already expensive, so why spend extra money on something like your phone bill? Roaming data can really rack up the dollars, if you’re not careful! But did you know that it’s possible to save on your phone bill without giving data usage on the go? Yes, that’s right! You can use Snapchat in Tahiti, if you want. Follow these money-saving tips so you can blog, chat, and post to your hearts content without stressing out about a huge phone bill.
1 Use your phone’s built-in money-saving settings
The easiest way to save money on your phone bill is to adjust your settings. Actually, this could probably even save you money at home! When you go into the “settings” area of your phone, you’ll have plenty of options. The most important one is to switch off data roaming. This will keep you from getting hit with a huge, unexpected roaming data bill. It can also be helpful to put your phone on airplane mode when you don’t need it, since this will switch off all your data without switching off your phone. Another trick is to turn off data for apps you don’t need to use, or for apps that you’ll likely only use on Wi Fi. After all, when was the last time you played Angry Birds? Uh … you don’t have to answer that.
2 Get a SIM card
If your phone can be unlocked, you can purchase a SIM card that works only in your destination country. This will essentially transform your phone into a local phone. I know many people who have done this with excellent results. Some cards allow you to pay as you go, while others have to be prepaid. Depending on where you go, these can cost anywhere from a few dollars to $50 USD. Where I lived, the card could be loaded at a kiosk in pretty much any gas station—no hassle, no problem. To find if you’re phone can be unlocked and loaded with a SIM card, you just need to call your carrier. If your phone can be unlocked, you’ll be given a code to enter into the phone, and soon you’ll be in business.
3 Get an international data plan
If you’re going to be overseas for a while, or if you need to be sure to have contact back home, an international data plan can be a great option. Many carriers have international travel plans that can get you data virtually anywhere in the world. When I lived overseas, I used the T Mobile international plan. While coverage was generally pretty spotty in my country no matter what you did, I was able to have 3G data most of the time and could call from Wi Fi for free. Every plan is different, so be sure to look at your options to find the plan that works best for you. If you can’t unlock your phone, this is the best way to go without getting a new phone.
4 Buy a local phone
When all else fails, a local phone can fix many of your communication issues. While it will almost definitely be more expensive to call back home on a foreign phone, you’ll have a better time calling local businesses. In my experience, many people are more likely to actually answer a local number, and it’s so much nicer to bypass complications like international calling codes if you’ve never had to deal with it before. It’s also often cheaper. Also, if you’re having trouble with your international plan (my phone has a problem with receiving local calls overseas), then a backup local phone can give peace of mind. Generally, you can find a cheap flip phone for under $20 and purchase a SIM card to put in it.
5 Stick with using your phone in a Wi Fi zone
If you can, avoid using your phone unless you can connect to WiFi. You can banish roaming data charges and forget about fancy plans altogether if you just stick with using your phone on WiFi. Of course, this is impractical for many travelers, but for people who are heading to highly urbanized areas, this could be the cheapest and most convenient way to go. Even if you can’t go without using your phone between WiFi stops, making the most of the Wi i you do encounter can lower your phone bill. Choose to eat and stay in places with WiFi (as long as it is cost effective), and you can do all your Instagramming at the restaurant or hotel. If you’re lucky, you’ll even find free Wi Fi areas and save!
6 Get Whatsapp
While text messaging costs money, alternative apps are totally free to use. Whatsapp, for example, is highly popular in the expat and travel community. This app uses the internet to send secure messages between users. They also offer wife calling. Another great app is Viber, which you can also install on your computer, even if it’s not a Mac.
7 Keep track of your data use
Just like you budget while traveling (or at least intend to budget), you should also budget your data usage. Keep an eye on your data usage. On an iPhone, this can be found in “cellular” within your settings menu. Make sure you know how much it costs to use both regular data and roaming data so you can have an idea of your expenditures and adjust accordingly.
Save money on your phone bill while traveling overseas so you can spend on the stuff that really matters. Don’t pay for roaming fees — go ride an elephant! If you follow these seven simple money-saving tricks, you’ll be able to keep down your phone bill while you travel. Why not share this post and help your friends save, too?