This blog post was updated on July 29, 2021.
If you have ever traveled abroad and accidently sent an email or two while roaming, you know just how much that cell phone bill can hurt when you get home. Some travelers are even unaware that from the minute they turn on their phone on travels abroad, they might be racking up quite the cell phone bill. In order to avoid coming home to a massive bill from your cell phone company, there are a number of steps you can take when you travel abroad to avoid the big bill.
Turn off roaming before your plane takes off: You are in your home country, enjoying your 4G data before your flight. Then, you have to power everything down for your long journey overseas. Many travelers make a critical error in incurring cell phone charges abroad before they even take off. You want to be sure to switch off your data roaming and your data before you power off if you don’t have an international phone plan in place. By shutting off your data and your roaming data, you will avoid incurring fees when you turn on your phone once you touch down in Paris. Usually you can turn off cellular data and data roaming in the settings section of your phone under the data or cellular menu.
Set your device to airplane mode if you still aren’t certain data is off: Some phones make it quite confusing to turn off your cellular data and your roaming data. If you still aren’t sure if your data is turned off, one of the easiest ways to be certain is by switching your cell phone to airplane mode. This will disable the cellular function of your phone. However, it won’t shut off Wi-Fi which can help you keep in touch without worrying any sort of cellular data is being used.
Research the best place at your destination for free Wi-Fi: If you don’t want to incur a massive cell phone bill while traveling abroad, you will need to find free Wi-Fi. Certain establishments featured all over your destination might also have free Wi-Fi. Sometimes in order to avoid a big bill, you need to do your research first. Travelers should find out which chains have free Wi-Fi and thus check their emails and text messages without spending a dime. There are also Wi-Fi finder apps that make it easy to locate free Wi-Fi. A traveler’s best bet is to book a hotel with Wi-Fi so that you can connect when you get back to your room for the night.
Disable alerts on your phone: Chances are you have a phone that alerts you when someone sends you an email or sends you a notification for an app you have. Some of these alerts could be costing you big bucks if you are traveling overseas. If you want to limit the amount of data you use, you need to be sure that your phone isn’t checking for emails automatically. You can disable this feature on your cell phone and also any other notifications that might run up your bill abroad.
Pick up a local SIM card or set up an international plan with your provider: If you absolutely have to use your cell phone while traveling abroad and you can’t just rely on Wi-Fi connections here and there, one of the cheapest options is to purchase a local SIM card when you get to your destination. For travelers who don’t want to unlock their phone or mess with a new SIM card, you can talk to your provider and set up an international plan for your trip. These are often costly, but less expensive than just leaving your phone on and its data while jaunting around the world.