One of the most expensive thing for International travelers or just people that are just going on a short vacation are the wireless roaming charges you will incur when outside your home country. There are many ways to try and keep International roaming charges to manageable levels but only if you pay attention to how you are going to use your wireless phone.
The first obstacle you will have when traveling with your wireless phone is the obstacle of just making sure it will even work at your traveling location. Until LTE becomes more of a deployed system worldwide there are only 2 basic types of digital technology that phones and wireless carriers use in their networks.
CDMA: This is the digital technology that carriers such as Verizon and Sprint chose to use in their home markets.
GSM/UMTS: This digital technology is used by AT&T and T-Mobile type carriers. These phones are easily identified because they use something called SIM cards that store all your phone information on them. The SIM card can be located behind the battery.
World Phones: This phone is a combination of these two digital technologies. They became popular a few years ago and have grown drastically especially among travels. This phone will actually work on both technologies. It will first prefer the home carrier type of digital technology and if it is not able to locate a compatible system it will fail over to the other.
The main issue when using CDMA or UMTS only phones is that in many countries and remote vacation islands you may only have one carrier operating there. When that is the case you phone may or may not work pending if the local technology is compatible with your phone. This is why the World phone has gained popularity over the years with travelers, as it eliminates the one major obstacle you could run into.
Now that you have arrived at your foreign location and you do have wireless service with the local carrier, it’s important to try and keep your costs down as international roaming fees can be very expensive. Always check with your phone carrier to get accurate costs before you travel. Some carriers will offer an international roaming feature for your phone. This is especially true for those that have world phones.
If you are using a world phone or a smart phone it should be WiFi capable and this will be the best method for you to keep the costs down. Almost every hotel and even some restaurants offer free WiFi to its guest. If this is the case where you are traveling, all you have to do is put it in WiFi mode and that will allow you to make a Voip call at no cost to you at all. If you travel a lot to a location that doesn’t offer free WiFi but does offer free data service in your hotel then take along with you a Wireless router and turn the hotels data connection in your room to a WiFi signal and that will allow your phone to lock on it for use. This last method is actually the one I use when traveling so I can keep in touch with my daughter back in the states for little to no costs.
Another way to save money when international is with your Text Messaging. This can also be very costly if you tend to do this instead of calling people or emailing. Most international areas charge you as much as 50 cents per text message you send. Your text messaging service you have at home, so many messages for a flat fee, doesn’t apply when roaming internationally. There are new App’s available for smart phones that allow you to send and receive text messages without actually using the text option on your phone. If you are again on a free Wifi system you can use this App and not pay the international roaming charges. The only downfall to this is that you must have some kind of Smart Phone that allows you to use the Apps.
In closing, let me say that there are many ways to keep your costs down when traveling internationally. You just need to do a little planning and thinking it through before you go there and receive your wireless bill from your visit upon your return home. There is one method that I have not listed here and this method is only usable by the person traveling on vacation. That method is to just plain turn your phone off and enjoy your vacation. If you are with the family, like you should be, there is no reason to need to call anyone anyway. Enjoy and Relax, you don’t get to travel internationally very often most likely. You are likely in a very nice location that you want to enjoy and savor the memories.