Surprise charges and hidden fees aren’t what we’re about at WeSwap, so here are 7 useful travelling tricks to avoid huge phone bills when you’re back home.
Turn off data roaming!
Make sure you turn off data roaming before you get off the plane. This has to be rule No.1 for me as I got stung for £65 just for switching my phone on in Vietnam. Ouch.
In the EU it’s more reasonable – more of that soon.
Disable your voicemail when outside the EU!
By law, you can only be charged to listen to your voicemail in the EU. However, some cheeky providers outside the UK charge for simply receiving one! Don’t take the chance and turn voicemail off. Unless of course, you absolutely cannot.
Why not travel (semi) off the grid?
Soak up all the local culture, cuisine and make new friends… your Facebook page isn’t going to change too much over the next few hours. Even if you did just check yourself in on Bondi beach during the British winter.
Use free Wi-Fi when it’s available to stay connected with the rest of the world.
Google maps lets you save locations for offline use, so download what you need while you have Wi-Fi if you need help getting around. Don’t be scared, GPS still works without having to download any data.
Use free calling apps such as WhatsApp and Skype if you need to get in contact with friends and family back home to avoid extra costs.
Being off the grid not an option?
Using your data roaming in Europe is reasonably cheap. EU regulations mean that these countries can only charge a certain amount on top of your normal UK rate: 4.4p per minute for an outgoing call, 1p minute for an inbound call and 4.4p/MB for data.
Please, please, please check these costs before doing this outside the EU! Data can cost as much as £8/MB outside of the EU, that includes in the USA.
Data not an option… buy a local SIM card
Find out how to ask for a SIM card in the local language and visit a phone shop. Calls, texts and data are all at the local rate and you can only spend what you top up onto the SIM card.
TIP: If you have a foreign SIM card you will pay extra for incoming and outgoing calls to numbers outside of that country. For us, that means calls back to the UK!
Check your phone provider for international deals
These vary in price but the more reasonably priced ones can be convenient as they often let you use the plans between countries. We know it’s boring but check the call, texts and data limits and most importantly any fees that incur if you reach these limits.
See if they’ll give you fair warning when you’re about to reach those limits too.
Buy a Pocket Wi-Fi device
These allow you to connect to Wi-Fi wherever you are and if there is no other Wi-Fi available. You can typically pick one up for £20-£40 and you can get different data packages depending on which ones you buy. Some offer free data for 3 months.
You can also use multiple users at the same time if travelling with a friend. If you’re travelling between continents, you will need to check what countries that this device will function in.
If you have any other tips for travellers, please share them in the Comments section below.