One week into the last trip and my minutes and data I had purchased from my cellular provider had run out of time. Glasgow had sucked up a great deal of minutes. The constant use of apps and maps on the phone, even after turning off all apps running in the background, had blown through the mid level pricing plan plan I had purchased. It’s no wonder. The carriers I had to backbone on changed every five minutes it seemed in some locations, especially traveling on trains. Gotta use that WiFi more if it’s up on the trains.
Roam Around The World
When you go overseas or over the border, the carriers will change the minute you land. Your provider will charge you phenomenal fees if you roam. You contact your carrier before you go and purchase a travel plan. There are usually several tiers of service and most of us will pick the one up from the lowest priced plan. Don’t. I know it’s painful to look at, but just buy the plan that is unlimited, and read the fine print. No matter what you think, you will blow through the other plans in a matter of days. That is unless you are very careful, and turn the phone off most days.
Traveling with companions can cut down on many costs. One of these can be coordinating who has phone access live. That’s right, if you are a group traveling and have only two of you up and live at one time, and the others completely turn off the phone, you can keep costs and phone charging way down. If you are brave enough to coordinate so. Then fight that impulse.
Pricing and Decisions
So, to get through your trip without having to think too much about a $500.00 bill when you get back, you will probably have to go for a $300.00 unlimited plan. I would still turn off all background data for the apps as this will suck data power on your phones. You will probably need to recharge often, carry your power converter with you. I would still ask the rep what unlimited truly means, there may be some other charges that happen while say AT&T is using Vodaphone in the UK. Be prepared to get a surprise when you get back, regardless.
Got your iPad or other tablet with you and it’s got it’s own phone number as back up in the states? Guess what, while you are using it, this second phone is also racking up background data on your account. If you really don’t use the phone number as a phone, disconnect it before you leave. WiFi is in most hotel and accommodations, and there are apps to help you locate local free hotspots you can access.
Want to feel the international spy feel? You could try a pay as you go Euro phone. Would it be a good idea to buy a throw away phone and prepay minutes? If you really want to spend your time having to reload minutes while traveling, and you really are a stickler for budget, you could go this route. The cost on the prepay could be appealing, but the amount of minutes you would have to reload with and data would possibly mean more money if you count the time you spend on it.
Go offline. Eek. Yes, you are on holiday. Put it off and away when you are not using it for a walking tour. Get a physical map, you know the quaint old time things that you fold out? Or the free one that you get at your lodgings. It does scream tourist? Yes, but so does following a map app all through the city.
Do check in with your provider and see what plans they offer for overseas travel for the dates you will be planning. There are always new plans, and you need to really look at them to see if they are right for you. Make sure that the plan starts the day of travel before you leave since you will be on different carrier the minute you get off the plane. Good luck.