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Travel Smarter With Your Smartphone

Business Technology | November 17, 2012

When you travel internationally you almost certainly depend on your smartphone, maybe more then you do when you are on your home turf. Why is this so? It can help you navigate strange cities; translate signs, change reservations, and a lot more. The one issue with this reliance is that the cost can be very high when you use your smartphone outside your home country.

The pain of international texting

The New York Times’ Frugal Traveler blog fairly recently covered the excessive costs that smartphone users might encounter when traveling abroad. Among them? How about 50 cents for every text message you send out or receive? Then there are international roaming rates that could soar to $2, $3, or $5 a minute. It could cost you $15 to retrieve a megabyte of data through your smartphone, according to the blog post. Thankfully, there are ways travelers can save when traveling. And the Frugal Traveler blog was kind enough to list a number of them.

Stay disconnected

Of course, the best way is to stay disconnected to your cell phone throughout your trip overseas. The issue is, that’s easier said than done. As the blog indicates, many international hotels no longer have in-room phones. And pay phones are becoming scarce across the globe. A more realistic solution might be to rely on your hotel’s free Internet connections or on Wi-Fi networks to check emails and send messages. Obviously, even if your web browsing and email activity is free, phone calls can still be a problem. A solution? Set up an account with an app such as Skype or Google Voice to help you make your calls. This won’t be free, but as the Frugal Traveler blog says, it’s far less costly than making standard roaming calls on your cell phone. Generally speaking, expect to pay one-tenth the price of a standard cellphone plan when you’re counting on services such as Skype and Google Voice.

International SIM Cards

If your cell phone company allows you to use other providers, you can always buy a SIM card. The Frugal Traveler tried two out, Telestial’s Passport card which costs $19 and OneSimCard’s Standard card costing $30. They reported that both of these work well and give you a main phone number that is not from your home country.

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