Using a cell phone overseas doesn’t have to be expensive. Getting ready for an international excursion is exciting and stressful. It’s exciting because you’re going on a new adventure.
It’s stressful because you might not know the language, you need to get your passport in order, confirm the logistics, and pack your bags.
You won’t always remember how to stay in touch with people. You’re probably going away to get away from it all, but people should have a way to reach you in an emergency. If an emergency doe comes up, you want to be prepared.
Otherwise, you could be stuck with a hefty phone bill because you were charged $.25 per minute. That can add up quickly.
Using a cell phone overseas doesn’t have to be expensive. Read on to learn the top tips for using your cell phone abroad.
1. Call Your Phone Company
The first call that you need to make it to your phone company to see how they handle international calls.
T-Mobile probably has the most generous plan for international calls. For those traveling between Canada, Mexico, and the U.S., you don’t have to pay roaming fees for calls, data, or text. Traveling between these countries is like being in one big local area.
If you’re traveling internationally, your best bet might be to upgrade to an international plan for an extra $10-$15 a month. This is a solid option if you expect to travel out of the country often.
2. Download WhatsApp
One way to get around the international calling fees is to download WhatsApp. You’ll be able to make international calls without using your carrier’s network.
Keep in mind that you’ll want to be connected to WiFi when you make these calls. Your phone plan may not cover data while you’re abroad or you may have data at 2G speeds. Either way, you’re not using your phone’s precious minutes. That can add up to a big phone bill.
Keep in mind that when you do rely on WhatsApp for international calls, you won’t be able to call emergency services where you’re located.
3. Set Your Phone to WiFi Only Calls
You may get cell phone calls abroad that you have no intention to answer. You may get voicemail messages that you have to check.
Your carrier may charge you for these calls, even to check your voicemail. One great way to avoid these extra charges is to set your mobile device to WiFi Calling Only. This will help you avoid using data for phone calls.
4. Set Call Forwarding to Another Number
Even with these unwanted calls, you can still get hit with charges to check your voicemail. Another way to avoid these charges is to forward calls to a Google Voice number.
You can opt to have all calls forward to a Google Voice number. You can then access your Google Voicemail over WiFi when it’s convenient for you.
The alternative is to have all calls forward to Google Voice and then have Google Voice transcribe the message and send to text or voicemail.
This is a great alternative, but sometimes the transcriptions can leave you wondering who is actually calling. If the speaker’s voice isn’t clear, the transcription can be way off.
5. Check Your Charger
The most important thing about using a cell phone overseas is charging it. You’ll want to make sure that you charge your phone fully before you leave on holiday.
You’ll also need to check to see what kind of international charger you need. Not all adapters are the same. For example, traveling in the U.K., Spain, and France all require different adapters.
If you do blow your phone out, there’s no need to completely panic as long as you have a working SIM card. You can spend EUR 99 on a cheap phone by Xiaomi that will work in Canada upon your return.
Are you an iPhone lover and can’t see yourself getting another type of device? The good news is that there are ways to get cheap iPhones. You can read this to learn more here.
6. Use a Prepaid Phone Plan
Let’s say that you’re relaxing at your hotel, getting a massage. In the middle of your massage, you realize that you forgot about a very important email that’s work-related.
You don’t want to have to call your phone company to upgrade your plan, and you’re really not up for paying for a potentially expensive phone call.
What are your options?
Opt for a prepaid phone plan. If you’re going away for a short period of time, and you don’t see yourself traveling often, this is a great option.
7. Choose to Completely Unplug
Ultimately, you’re on vacation. This is meant to be a time for you to connect and recharge. Not doing so could lead to burnout down the road.
If you have to check to see if you got any messages, do it only once a day. That may be difficult to do. If you’re like most Americans, you may check your phone about 52 times a day.
This is the chance for you to break your addiction to your phone. Step away, check it only a few times during your holiday. Don’t check it during an outrageous brunch, don’t even take pictures of your brunch.
Just relax, unwind, and enjoy yourself.
You Have Options When Using a Cell Phone Overseas
Going overseas is incredibly exciting. As the excitement builds up before you go away on your adventure, you want to make sure you have everything set. Travel information & itinerary, passport, and phone service. Using a cell phone overseas don’t have to be a nightmare.
Since more people travel globally, phone carriers are adapting to the changing times, though a little slowly. Instead of waiting for them to catch up, you can use the tips outlined here to stay connected or completely unplug. That’s entirely up to you.
Want more great travel tips? Check out this review of the Four Seasons Hotel and Spa in Toronto.