If you travel a lot internationally you most likely wouldn’t dream of leaving your smartphone behind. It is a convenient tool as you can quickly get directions in a foreign city, or change your plane reservations. The only issue is, using your smartphone internationally can get very costly.
The pain of international texting
The New York Times’ has a blog called Frugal Traveler and they recently published an article about smartphone costs when traveling internationally. Charges can include rates of $2 to $5 a minute for calls, and receiving data can be up to $15 a megabyte. There are a couple steps you can take to help reduce these charges.
Of course, the best way is to stay disconnected to your cell phone throughout your trip overseas. The problem is, that’s easier said than done. As the blog points out, many international hotels no longer have in-room phones. And pay phones are becoming scarce across the globe. A more sensible solution might be to rely on your hotel’s free Internet connections or on Wi-Fi networks to check emails and send messages. Needless to say, even if your web browsing and email activity is free, phone calls can still be a problem. A solution? Set up an account with an app such as Skype or Google Voice so that you can make your calls. This won’t be free, but as the Frugal Traveler blog says, it’s far less costly than making standard roaming calls on your cell phone. Generally speaking, count on paying one-tenth the price of a standard cellphone plan when you’re relying on services such as Skype and Google Voice.
International SIM Cards
If your cell phone company allows you to use other providers, you can always buy a SIM card. The Frugal Traveler tried two out, Telestial’s Passport card which costs $19 and OneSimCard’s Standard card costing $30. They reported that both of these work nicely and give you a main phone number that is not from your home country.