In today’s society, many people have a constant need to stay connected. Whether they are at home or on the road, most individuals keep a cell phone by their side. For most Americans, their phone, plan, and service fit their needs. At any given time and in any part of the country, they can make a call, send a text and perhaps browse the web. What happens, however, if a person plans on traveling abroad? Will their smartphone, tablet, or other device work and if so, what is the cost? For those individuals who have the luxury of exploring another country, here are a few tips to staying connected overseas.
Check with Your Carrier
A Wi-Fi enabled device allows any user to connect to the Web within a local Wi-Fi hotspot. However, a CDMA phone might not work in a country where GSM is the standard and vice versa. To avoid issues while you’re away, be sure to check with your service provider before you leave to determine whether your phone will work with the wireless networks wherever you’re headed.
Keep Costs in Check
Instead of calling (and paying extra for international connections) send a short text message instead. Some U.S. carriers count those messages as part of your monthly plan limit while others offer international messaging packages as an add-on service. If you travel abroad often, you might also want to look into adding an international calling plan to your existing service to take advantage of discounted rates.
Purchase a Prepaid SIM Card
If you have an “unlocked” mobile phone, consider purchasing a prepaid SIM card and installing it in your phone. This card allows some U.S. phones to access a carrier’s network abroad. Although you will no longer be tied to your mobile number back home in the States, you’ll still be able to take advantage of most of your phone’s capabilities. When you return home, simply remove the disposable SIM card from your phone and replace it with its original.
Go to the Net
Afraid of racking up a big bill on your phone? Use a computer in the hotel lobby or at an internet café to access Skype or Google Voice. Skype offers free person-to-person chats or unlimited calls to mobile and landline numbers over the internet for a small monthly fee. Google Voice also allows users to make calls at a penny per minute to U.S. numbers.
One final suggestion is to rent a mobile phone in advance online or pick one up once you arrive at your destination. These phones operate on local networks and may include additional connection and service fees so be sure to ask a lot of questions before you sign an agreement.
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