Save money on your cell phone when you travel abroad

Save money on your cell phone when you travel abroad

Ever get a shocking cell phone bill when you came back from a trip abroad? Here are some tips to help you avoid a huge surprise.

It’s a case of you don’t know what you don’t know. You are excited to travel, work, share photos with your friends, check daily email and upload client files. Then the bill comes and you get charges you didn’t plan for. As much as you would like to, you can’t be mad at the cell phone companies, after all, it’s not their job to tell you. However, with just a little planning and asking the right questions, you can save money on your cell phone when you travel abroad.

Just to make sure you don’t get hit with international roaming charges, start with a phone call to your cellular provider. They have plans and tips to help you. You can’t be angry with them if you didn’t ask. Most cell phones now are quad band phones which means they can operate wherever there is decent cell signal, regardless of the country. There are just a few things you should know.

1. Use Wi-Fi wherever you go

Putting your phone in Airplane mode and turning off mobile data will ensure you are in control of how you are letting your phone access networks. Before we learned some of these tricks, we got some interesting charges. For example, we were on a cruise to Grand Cayman, and we got a message on our phones “Welcome to Cuba.” The charge was nominal, but still a little unnerving when we didn’t expect it. Just changing a couple of settings alleviates this (more on using apps in a minute).

2. Use Apps

Next, there are plenty of free communication apps you either already have on your phone or can be easily installed.  Sideline (for a second phone number on your phone using Wi-Fi), Skype, Facetime, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts and others use Wi-Fi, saving your precious international minutes and texting. This is probably the single best way to save money on your cell phone when you travel abroad.

3. Get a Pre-paid phone

Last, some will suggest you get a pre-paid SIM card, which is a pretty good option. However, on some phones you may have to “jailbreak” the phone and many carriers take a dim view of this. The risk of theft, particularly abroad, is greater on unlocked phones since they are no longer tied to a particular cellular carrier. Our suggestion is get a disposable pre-paid phone. Instead of your state-of-the-art phone getting lost or stolen, it becomes a non-event. You just get another disposable one.


For the digital nomad or the savvy traveler, it is about enjoying the experience. This includes not paying more than you have to. With just literally a few minutes of planning, you can save money on your cell phone when you travel abroad. You just have to make a couple of phone calls and be aware of a couple of settings on your phone. What tips can you offer to digital nomads, remote workers and travelers looking to conserve budgets? If you like this article, check out my article 5 ways to automate your life now.

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Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

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