I often get asked what is the best way to stay in touch while traveling in Europe.
My first recommendation is to call your phone carrier Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile etc to inquire about a global data plan while traveling outside the USA. Most global plans will offer discounted phone call and text message rates. They will also allow a certain amount of data to be downloaded for the applicable plan you choose. Costs will vary depending on your requirements. Most companies will even offer a pay as you go plan.
Most new smart phones will work overseas but you must call your carrier first for activation. I will have my carrier activate my service the day I depart the USA and have them turn it off the day after I return (just in case of a flight delay). I will also leave myself a reminder to cancel the global plan when I return home just in case Verizon does not automatically do it for me as promised.
Keep phone calls to a minimum
I usually keep my phone calls to a minimum when traveling and try to communicate via Email. Ask questions and research the best international plan for your needs. Do not download You Tube videos or movies on your phone. This will eat up an incredible amount of megabytes. Using your own personal phone allows you to keep your normal phone number and phone contacts.
Data roaming alternatives
Data roaming can be expensive depending on your plan. I usually turn off my data roaming function or use my device in Airplane Mode when not using my phone. I will save most megabyte eating tasks on my phone when I can connect to Wi-Fi. When I am in an area with no Wi-Fi and feel the need to check emails or use my phone I turn on my date roaming function. Its also a good idea to keep track of your data usage. It is usually located on your phone’s menu. Verizon will send me a message if I am going over their plan data allowance.
Other tips would be to shut off your automatic updates for your phone apps. I would also suggest shutting off apps such as news, weather, sports updates and various social apps as this will eat up a lot of your space as well. Wait until you can connect to the internet for free.
These days most hotels, cafes and restaurants will offer free Wifi Upon hotel check-in I will usually inquire about the network name and password so I can connect immediately when I get settled into my hotel room. I always pack an electrical multi outlet surge protector that will allow me to charge my cell phone, laptop, kindle etc. Most will have 6 outlets and they do not take up too much space in your luggage and will cost around $10 dollars. It is also a good idea to pack an electrical adapter for the country you are visiting in case the hotel does not have any extras available.
Cafes such as Starbucks, McDonald’s and other major coffee shops will offer free WI-fi. Some of the smaller cafes and restaurants will let you log on to their internet as long as your make a purchase at their establishment. Keep in mind when using a public network do not engage in anything that may breech your security.
Another option if you travel often internationally and plan to make a lot of LOCAL in country calls is to simply purchase an inexpensive phone and buy a sim card locally. I did this in Thailand about 8-9 years ago and I have used my $30 dollar phone throughout Asia numerous times. I just need to buy a local Sim card on arrival at a cost of around $10- $15 and available at most airports. This will also give you a certain amount of prepaid minutes. When you are running low on prepaid minutes it is very easy to recharge and purchase more at a variety of venues that may include Seven Eleven stores, phone stores, kiosks etc. If you plan on making a lot of local calls this can save your money, however one of the major disadvantages is you will not have your normal phone number. Anyone calling you from the USA will have to call your temporary out of country phone line. This may or may not be a good option for you depending on your circumstances.
When booking your next journey please contact me for expert advice at firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-471-2310.