If you’re like me, you need to stay tapped into your business and connected to your family from wherever you are, and you don’t want to spend a fortune doing it.  If you’ve come home to a whopping cell phone bill while you’ve been out of town, these tips to can help you minimize the pain on future trips abroad. 

1. Alert Your Circle

It’s important to let anyone who needs to get in touch with you know that you will be out of town. Explain that texting or calling using conventional methods will incur extra charges for you. Also be sure to advise them when you will return so they can plan accordingly.

2. Setup Alternative Communication Methods

Setup an application that leverages a data plan or Wi-Fi connection, such as Viber (an app available on iPhone and Android phones or Skype. Let your contact list know how to contact you via these apps, instead of using regular text messages or phone calls. Keep in mind that these apps will only work when you are in Wi-Fi range or if you have a data plan setup, so plan accordingly.

You may also choose to purchase a separate texting plan for the area where you’ll be traveling.  Make sure you check the prices before you leave, as some plans are atrociously expensive.

3. Use Wi-Fi for Email Whenever Possible

Be sure you are using a Wi-Fi connection whenever possible to check your email throughout your trip. Of course, not just any connection will do. You’ll want to make sure your Wi-Fi connection is reputable. To better ensure the safety of your information, check out our recent article on Keeping Your Laptop Secure When Using Wi-Fi.

Also, be selective about downloading attachments. If possible, wait until you are back in your hotel or office, and download the attachments while connected to Wi-Fi or cable.

If you’ll be away for an extended period of time, you might want to look into buying a data plan through your internet provider for the location where you’re traveling.

4. Phone Calls

If you don’t like the idea of using alternative services, like Skype or Viber for phone calls, see if you can get a voice plan through your provider for the country where you’re traveling. This is most advantageous if you’ll be away for an extended period.

You might also investigate the possibility of purchasing a phone in the country where you’re traveling since their local phone plans may be cheaper than the one through your regular provider.

5. Internet and Third Party Applications.

Be very careful about how often and when you surf the internet or use apps such as Google Maps, Trip Advisor, Weather, iTunes, etc.  Whenever possible, use these apps while on Wi-Fi to minimize cellular data plan charges which are always much more expensive when you are outside of Canada, and can eat into your plan pretty quickly.

Learn from this Valuable Lesson

A good friend mine was travelling throughout Europe recently for work.  She made every effort she knew to minimize roaming charges by not texting, not using the internet and turning off her e-mail when not around a Wi-Fi spot.

A month after returning to the office, she got called in by her boss with the shocking news that she had the highest cell phone bill in the company at over $1,200 dollars for the 3 weeks in which she was travelling.

They were both horrified, particularly since she believed she was doing all the rights things to prevent this.  After some investigation, she realized Google Maps was the culprit, which she used as her personal navigation system throughout her trip.

It’s hard not to use Google Maps, it’s a great app. To prevent excessive charges, do your searching while on Wi-Fi and write down the instructions.

Depending on the make and model of your smartphone, there are settings that you can adjust to either disable calls, texting, or data while you travel so that you don’t risk a surprise phone bill when you return home.

If you have any questions about anything we’ve covered here, TAG is always here to help you maximize your connectivity and save you money when you travel. Just give us a call at 416-489-6312.