Who hasn’t made the mistake of going abroad, forgetting to turn off the data and racking up a huge phone bill?
The answer is: we’ve all been there.
Receiving a call away can cost as much as £3/a min, whilst in some places you’ll pay £7/MB to surf the web. (And all to upload a beach picture...)
Luckily, there are a few simple ways to avoid this unfortunate fate, and here at AIRGO-FX, we’re committed to helping our customers every step of the journey.
We’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to using your phone abroad and avoiding all the sticky costs and complications.
1. Don’t use it!
You’re on holiday! Take this as an opportunity to leave your phone behind and become fully present in whatever it is that you are doing. We spend so much of our time staring at screens - on average five hours of everyday - and having a respite from this is important. Leave your phone in your room whilst you spend the day exploring, and monitor your usage - perhaps checking it only once or twice a day and responding to only the necessary! Holidays are a chance for a break from all distractions and stresses, and whilst often unrecognised, phones fall under this category too.
2. Check if your network has any holiday-plans
These days, networks often have packages for using mobiles abroad. Your plan may already include allowances for roaming in some countries at no extra charge - this is usually the case in the EU. If not, you can ring up or simply text your network, and pay a little fee to get data and calls whilst away. Roaming policies vary from network to network, with some offering inclusive roaming outside Europe. It’s worth checking this out before you go to ensure you snag the best deal and don’t end up paying extra!
3. Get your phone unlocked
Before you take the trip (and if my first suggestion simply won’t do), ensure that you get your phone unlocked. If your network does not provide roaming packages, a much cheaper option is to simply buy a sim when you get to whichever country you are visiting. With an unlocked phone, you can use any sim. You can usually unlock your phone online or by ringing up - again, this varies, so make sure you check your network’s conditions.
4. Buy a sim card when you’re there
Once you have arrived, avoid buying a sim from the airport as you are likely to be charged the greater ‘tourist’ prices. By going to a little phone shop or newsagents outside of the airport, you will get the same deals as citizens do - in my experience, very good ones indeed! In India, I got 1gb of data a day for only £5 a month! So if you are planning to use your phone a lot whilst away, I highly suggest getting your phone unlocked and buying a sim card when there. Even with a network package, this will work out a lot cheaper with extensive use.
5. Turn off the data
For those unwilling to commit either way, you can turn the data off on your phone (found under settings) and only use the device for photos and when in a place with free wifi. For only light usage abroad, this serves many people well. More and more cafes and restaurants now offer this service, making it easy to find free wifi spots. With applications such as Whatsapp, Skype and Facetime, you can use wifi not only to surf the web, but to make those all-important calls home too.