Heading overseas this Summer? Your smartphone may be an essential gadget to have along on any trip, but data roaming and voice calls while outside your coverage area can lead to big surprises on your next cell phone bill. So how do you keep costs down? Check out these tips that will help ensure you stay within your budget, and not break the bank next time you travel abroad.
- Use WiFi where you can - After you kill your data, 3G, and cellular functions, enable your WiFi to jump on free signals to check email or make calls via Google Voice or Skype.
- Turn your iPhone's "Fetch" and "Push" off - I have my iPhone set to "fetch" my data every 30 minutes, and a ton of apps set to push new messages and alerts as they happen. This is great for keeping up with news and messages when I'm at home, but very bad if abroad since it uses 3G data instead of my known WiFi networks. Turn your "fetch" functions off on your iPhone, just go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, and Calendars > Fetch New Data > Manually. You can also turn off your email and calendar "push" from this screen. To turn off app "push" notifications, head to Settings > Notifications, then switch to off.
- Skype it up - If your hotel offers Internet access, or you've found a free WiFi location, you can check in with the fam as much as you want via Skype, Google Voice, or via Skype on your laptop.
- Turn data roaming off - By switching your data roaming off, you keep data-sucking features - like email, downloads, notifications, and Internet browsing - from racking up the charges when you're out of your coverage area. Alternatively, you can switch your smartphone into "Airplane Mode" (and keep it there) to keep all 3G and cellular activity off.
- Load up on offline apps - Most travel apps require an Internet connection to work, but there are a ton of helpful apps that don't. This is especially true for city and subway maps, food recommendations, and translation. Try searching "offline apps" in your preferred app store to see what's out there.
- Purchase a data package - If you're stressing out from all this talk, you can always buy an International plan from your carrier ahead of time so you know exactly what you can do, and how much it will cost to use your phone to its fullest abroad.
- Rent an International phone - When you get to your destination, chances are you'll find lots of rentable cell phones that you can use for little cost, and will be free from worrying about international charges since the cell phone you rent will work on its home network.
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