Ways to Save on Telecommunications While Abroad


Cindy had set up a limited amount for her BlackBerry service before she left to Europe. She told her GSM provider that she will spend up to Rp 2 million for her one-week trip. Everything was smooth and she was doing the usual things she does every day; checking emails, tweeting, getting updates from social media, and chatting on several mobile messaging apps. Before the week ended, the provider sent a reminder that she was about to exceed her limit. Cindy was afraid that she might be hit with massive bill on her return, so she decided to turn off her mobile network and survived on Wi-Fi to stay connected during the remaining of the trip.

If you are planning to travel thousands of kilometers away from home, here are some tips to save on roaming charges while traveling abroad:    

1. Use a Prepaid SIM Card

Check with your mobile operator if your card will work in your travel destination and then review the rates. When a wireless carrier other than your local one provides signal, it’s called roaming. Generally, users will be charged for incoming calls and text messages. It is easier to carry a prepaid SIM card because you can limit your expense and refill it according to your needs –you can easily top-up your prepaid card through online banking or site.

2. Bring Two Mobile Phones

Like many Indonesians, you probably have two or three phones that you carry every day. Check the cellular frequencies in your travel destination and keep your local SIM card in one phone. Depending on your device and length of trip, you can use the second mobile phone with a foreign number. For example: If you are traveling to London for two weeks and you have an Android and BlackBerry smartphone, you can buy a foreign SIM card for the Android phone, turn off the mobile network on BlackBerry and use Wi-Fi connections –which you can get for free or by buying subscription at public places-- to keep its services. However, if your trip is only three days, it will be cheaper to get BlackBerry roaming service which charges for as low as Rp 25,000 (postpaid) and Rp 40,000 (prepaid) per day.

3. How to Keep Data Roaming Off      

The real problem behind overseas bill shock is the cost of data usage –bandwidth and connection fees to connect you to a website, deliver emails or upload a photo to Facebook or Twitter. Since it is hard to measure usage as you browse around, your phone can be using a lot of data without you knowing it.

The simplest way to keep your mind at ease is to turn data roaming, cellular data and 3G off. Here is a general guide for different smartphones:
Android: Go to Settings - Wireless Controls- Mobile Network - uncheck Data Roaming, Data Enable and 3G Data options.
BlackBerry: Go to Options - Networks and Connections - Mobile Network - Data Services - select “Off When Roaming”.
iPhone:  Go to Settings - General - Cellular - slide Data Roaming, Cellular Data and Enable 3G to “Off’.
Windows Phone: Go to Settings - Mobile Network - Data Roaming - and select “Don’t Roam”.

4. Use VoIP Service

Nowadays, there are many mobile apps that offer free and easy calls via “Voice over Internet Protocol” (VoIP). So, if you feel that Skype is too troublesome, there are newer services like Viber and Line. All they need is just a steady Wi-Fi connection.

Maintaining communications during traveling overseas doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, as long as you are well-informed and stick to the budget. As the last but not least resort, keep small coins in your wallet, just in case you need to make a local phone call using a payphone across the street. Happy traveling!

 

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