Being Smart With Your Phone Traveling Overseas

Last year we did an article about traveling with our iPhone .  Common sense told me that international roaming rates would be outrageous – so I barely made any calls. Only 2. To my mother and  my  mother  in law!  Roughly  $2.30  per minute. A  15 minute call  was  $35! Ouch! I should have sent postcards!

I guess I am naive…or stupid…I really  didn’t  think  about  roaming  charges  being  applied  to  texts and that data usage could be an issue.

The iPhone, with all it’s  delicious apps and bells and whistles –  SUCKS  DATA. Most domestic plans here in the US  have  unlimited  data, so few users, like me, bother to track the amount I send and receive. Shame on me.

When you travel to overseas, AT & T offers a pricey a la carte menu which is almost impossible for the simple mind like mine, to decipher. I don’t know how many  bytes of this and that I am going to need to read emails!  How is that even calculated? I flunked  Algebra!

And every country has different rates. I was told I should have gotten a $24.99 Global Add-On plan, which would have given me 20 megabytes of data at $1.25 per megabyte – instead of the nearly $20 PER MEGABYTE they charged me!

I discovered it’s best to SHUT OFF your  DATA  ROAMING, under Settings, General, and Network. And also , in your email settings, turn off  the  FETCH option, so you don’t automatically download new emails randomly, as they pour into your in box. 

If you go somewhere that has  FREE  WI-FI – like some  hotel lobbies, you can check your emails  there, without the hefty AT&T  international charges. Just make sure you can connect to WI-FI  network. This way you can avoid many data  charges. Be selective when and where you want to check emails.

Aside from keeping your phone off or at home, being prepared is the best way to prevent unnecessary charges, you may try  using Skype or Google Voice to communicate overseas. Both services can be used for discounted or free rates, depending on the country. Google Voice charges anywhere from 2 cents a minute in China to 98 cents a minute in Cuba. Skype to Skype calls are free, and calling a landline or mobile can cost as little as 2 cents a minute.

CNN  suggests   a subscription to global wireless network Boingo, which offers more than 100,000 Wi-Fi hot spots all over the world for $7.95 per month.

AT & T has a few options for traveling abroad, depending on where you are going. Be aware most come with a discount for your calls but also a 3 month minimum. AT & T  claims you have to pay for 3 months to make sure that can catch all of the calls. Yeah, right.

It’s also a good idea to reset your usage statistics when you travel, so you can track how close you are to your limits.  This is under Settings, then General, then Usage. 

  Check with your carrier BEFORE you leave town!