You wouldn’t think of traveling around the world without your smartphone. After all, that little device can help you quickly change plane reservations, discover the trendiest new restaurants, and find out just how busy the highway to your hotel is. However, there’s one problem: Using your cell phone outside of the United States will cost you big bucks.
The pain of international texting
The New York Times’ Frugal Traveler blog recently covered the outrageous costs that smartphone users might encounter when traveling abroad. Among them? How about 50 cents for every text message you send out or receive? There are also international roaming rates that could soar to $2, $3, or $5 a minute. It could cost you $15 to retrieve a megabyte of data through your smartphone, based on the blog post. Fortunately, there are ways travelers can save when traveling. And the Frugal Traveler blog was kind enough to list many of them.
This seems obvious, the easiest way to not accrue charges on your phone is to not use it when over seas, but for the majority of us that is inconceivable. And it may be more difficult than it sounds. Many hotels do not have in-room phones anymore. However, you may be able to use the hotels free Wi-Fi network. But that is only a solution for checking your email, social media sites, and usually having access to the Internet. One thing you can do to solve this is set up an account on your phone with Skype or Google Voice so you can make calls. This is not free, but less expensive than the alternative.
International SIM Cards
Another choice is to purchase a SIM card. This only works if your phone company enables you to use other providers. The Frugal Traveler tried out Telestial’s Passport card for $19 and OneSimCard’s Standard card for $30. According to them, both of these worked well and both will give you a main phone number that is not from your home country.