It is all too easy when travelling and connected to a network, to just use your phone as you would at home. With the ever-increasing use of mobile phones, it is inevitable that the use abroad will incur additional costs on occasion.
Ensuring you have an appropriate data plan can prove vital in limiting these costs, as international roaming fees and data charges can quickly add up.
Purchase an international phone plan
If you try to use your mobile phone when abroad, it is likely that you will be charged high roaming fees to access data and place any calls. It is always advisable, prior to travel, to check with your network provider, to determine if the plan you are currently on allows for international calling. If not, then you will need to activate international calling before you leave, to ensure the phone will work upon arrival.
Turn data use off
You can make sure that data fees are limited by going into the settings of your phone. If you choose items such as manual checking for connections, emails, and messages, you can choose to only initiate these actions at the appropriate time, such as when you are connected to a Wi-Fi network. As an alternative, simply placing your phone into 'airplane mode' stops any forms of connection occurring, and this has the added benefit of preserving some of the battery life, on your phone.
Make use of free messaging platforms
There are now a large number of messaging apps available, which can be used on Wi-Fi, and because of this, they can completely bypass any additional network data charges. Apps such as WhatsApp, Skype, and WeChat provide the ability to keep in contact with people back home, via messaging or sending pictures from your travels.
Make the most of free Wi-Fi
You will find that a lot of hotels will offer free Wi-Fi, for some or all of the duration of your stay. Check at reception if this is not immediately obvious. You will also find, particularly in cities, an ever-increasing availability of free Wi-Fi can be found. Restaurants and cafes will normally provide any password to gain access, and some city centres offer open-air Wi-Fi spots.
Download maps and apps on Wi-Fi prior to leaving
Google Maps offers the ability to download areas of a map for offline use. As a result, you can use the downloaded map without being connected to a network, and therefore not incur any roaming charges.
Alongside this, make sure you pre-plan for any apps you may wish to use on your trip. Download them before you leave and have them installed and ready on your phone, to ensure no extra charges are incurred.
Travelling within the European Union
Since June 2017, a European Union (EU) law to abolish roaming charges for people using mobile phones abroad has been in place. This rule means that citizens travelling within the EU can call, text and use the internet, on mobile devices, for the same price they pay at home.
As ever, with the UK leaving the European Union in 2019, this may be subject to change.