Planning to use your phone on your trip abroad? If you can’t stay away from it for the duration of your trip, you may be concerned about being hit with a massive bill on your return - and rightly so. With a little planning, however, you can stay in touch and be on top of your budget. UNIGLOBE Experts walk you through some simple ways to do just that, from the most obvious to more creative (and cheaper) solutions.

Using your smartphone overseas is one of the top three causes of a mobile bill shock, and it’s mostly due to uninformed travelers using international roaming with no idea of what checking those emails are really costing them.



International roaming means that while overseas, your phone will use the network of a mobile phone carrier in your destination country with which your Indian carrier has a roaming agreement. Although it sounds convenient, it isn’t cheap – and you’ll generally pay for the calls you receive as well as make. Receiving a SMS/MMS is free, but it will usually cost more to send them, so do check with your provider. The real culprit behind overseas bill shock is the cost of data usage which arise by activities such as operating your emails, looking at a single standard webpage, uploading a photo on Facebook etc.

Thankfully, there are options if you don’t want your trip to end with a blotted phone bill. UNIGLOBE Experts have put together a quick guide to avoiding overseas bill shock in just a few simple steps.

Switch off Location Services, Push Notifications and Automatic Updates

As one UNIGLOBE expert points out: “Another option that is frequently overlooked by travelers is turning off Location Services and automatic updates and push notifications that are enabled for apps. While switching off the roaming option should prevent this, for your own peace of mind, make sure these options are turned off manually anyway. As with disabling data roaming, you can do this yourself by accessing ‘Settings’ for iPhones and Android-operated phones, and ‘Options’ for Blackberry – look for the ‘Location Services’ and ‘Notifications’ tabs, and switch everything off.”

Also, make sure you disable the ‘Fetch New Data’ option for your email and calendar and turn off notifications for any apps that have their own individual tabs in ‘Settings/Options’ (for example, on the iPhone you’ll find applications such as Facebook and Skype have their own options in Settings).

You can still use your smartphone at WiFi hotspots – you’ll find most hotels and many restaurants provide complimentary WiFi to their customers, so restrict your web browsing and app use to when you can do it for free. Another benefit of using WiFi is that there are many applications such as ‘Skype and Viber’, which offer free or low-rate phone and video calls and texting – definitely something you would want to stay in touch with home.


Buy Data Before You Go

If you absolutely can’t survive without Internet and application access whenever you need it, buy an international data roaming pack before you go. Most of the major carriers offer monthly packs with a set amount of data – unfortunately, it’s only applicable abroad, and anything you don’t use will be forfeited at the end of the month.


Buy a Local Prepaid SIM When You Arrive

A cheaper option is to swap your home country SIM card for a local prepaid SIM upon arrival. Internet access will work out about 90% cheaper and you can make low-rate calls to local numbers. “You’ll need to make sure that your handset can be unlocked from your network. SIM cards can usually be purchased at most international airports,” informs one UNIGLOBE Travel expert.


Buy a Global Roaming SIM Before You Leave

“Truth be told, business travelers always want to land prepared and don't want to get into the hassle of buying a local prepaid SIM upon arrival at their foreign destination. We help our clients consider the benefits of purchasing a global roaming SIM before they leave the country. Apart from being hassle-free, a global roaming SIM purchased through a UNIGLOBE Travel office powered by operators like Roam1 has the additional benefit of allowing free calls from India to that number making it economical for family and peers to stay in touch. Certain plans also offer what is called a CUG or Closed User Group, which allows free calls between a group of people traveling together,” adds one UNIGLOBE Expert.


No matter what option you choose, don't forget to consult your UNIGLOBE Expert to guide you through the best suitable option that works for your travel requirement.

 


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