Whether you’re traveling abroad on business or vacation, one of the biggest expenses on the trip can result from reaching out to colleagues or loved ones over seas. We’ve put together some tips to help lighten the load on your wallet so that every phone call doesn’t start with, “I can only talk for a minute.” Yes, even though your company may be expensing your trip, it doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate cutting that phone bill way down.
- The first thing you should do is check with your carrier to find out what their international pricing is and if they offer any special plans. Of course you also need a phone that supports GSM.
- When you reach your destination you can purchase a GSM SIM card from a local carrier. Local rates will be cheaper then your international roaming rates. However, this will only reduce charges for local calls. So if you don’t plan to make any calls back home, this is a good option. Your phone will need to be unlocked for this to work, since locked phones will only work with the carrier you subscribed with.
- Purchase a mobile Wi-Fi service from a company like Boingo. For only $7.95/mo you can have unlimited data at any of their hotspots. While they do have availability world wide, you should use their hotspot locator to make sure they have one or more close to where you will be. They also offer an easy cancellation, so if you only need it for one trip you can buy it and cancel before the next billing cycle.
- Another easy but less accessible approach is to find hotspots that offer complimentary Wi-Fi. One of those spots can be a friends home network.
- Once you have your Wi-Fi situation worked out, you can use any number of Voice-over-IP (VOIP) services to make free calls. Of course they require the other party to be using the same thing, but with services like Skype they probably already do.
Here are some other ideas
- Book hotels that offer free Wi-Fi
- Ask your provider to place a usage cap on your account so you don’t accidentally go over a predefined amount
- Check out apps like Onavo that claim to reduce data consumption
The following steps may very from phone to phone. If you have trouble finding your specific settings for these, just leave a comment and we’ll get that info for you.
Switch off Push Notifications
- iPhone: Go to Settings → Notification center → Disable notifications for your apps. This needs to be done on an app by app basis
- Android: Go to Settings → Application Manager → Select the application you want to turn off notifications for → Deselect show notifications. This needs to be done on an app by app basis
- Blackberry: Go to Settings → notifications → In the Mode drop down list tap All Alerts Off. If you want to do this on an app by app basis, at the bottom of the notifications screen, select Applications → Select the application you want to make changes to
- Windows Phone: Android: Go to Settings → notifications + actions → Select the application you want to turn off notifications for → Toggle the slider for show in action center to off. This needs to be done on an app by app basis
Make sure automated app updates are turned off
- iPhone: Go to Settings → iTunes & App Stores → Toggle apps to disable Automatic Downloads. You can also toggle off Updates and Use Cellular Data
- Android: Open the Play Store → Go to Settings → By default it’s set to only update over Wi-Fi, but if you like you can toggle to Do not auto-update apps
- Blackberry: Open Settings → Software Updates → Set Automatic Updates to Off
- Windows Phone: Open Settings → Select Applications → Select Store → Tap the more “…” buttom in the bottom right corner → Select Settings → Under App updates toggle off Update apps automatically. You can leave Only get updates over Wi-Fi, or disable this as well
Turn off data roaming
- iPhone: Go to Settings → General → Network → slide Data Roaming, Cellular Data and Enable 3G to off
- Android: Go to Settings → Wireless Controls → Mobile Network Settings → uncheck Data Roaming, Data Enable and 3G Data options
- Blackberry: Go to Options → Mobile Network → Data Services → select Off When Roaming
- Windows Phone: Go to Settings → Mobile Network → Data Roaming → and select Don’t Roam
It’s very easy to cut that phone expense abroad and reduce a potential liability from several hundred dollars a week to under $10 a month. It just takes a few simple steps to prepare and you will be ready to stay connected without the stress.