If you are travelling for pleasure and not work, your company will likely not cover the phone bill. This can potentially make it very expensive to use data, talk to people, or even receive calls. Of course, you can go into super saver mode and minimise the usage of your phone but, given that you are travelling overseas, you may actually need your phone more than you did back home. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to cut your phone bill down overseas, without having to limit your usage by too much. A quick look at some of them should provide a better idea.
Use Wi-Fi When You Can
Unless you are going into the woods for a deep trek, you will find Wi-Fi almost everywhere now, including flights, hotels, restaurants, cafes, nightclubs, trains, public hotspots – even some taxis have onboard Wi-Fi these days. Try to reserve data-heavy uses such as streaming video content and making video calls for when you have access to a decent enough Wi-Fi connection.
Before you start using public Wi-Fi though, you may want to have a VPN and an antimalware app installed on your device, since public Wi-Fi spots can be dangerous to use without proper protection. Hackers can and often do intercept, redirect, and eventually steal packets of data from people using public Wi-Fi networks without the necessary encryption.
Get an International SIM
There is no better way to save money on phone bills during your travels than to get a global SIM card with free international minutes and roaming. For example, it would cost you just £10 to get a SIM only plan from Lebara with 10GB of data, 100 minutes of international call time, unlimited national talk time and national texts (within the UK). There is a limited time offer going on right now, where your referrals can get the same international data/call/SMS benefits at half the price, while you earn money from home or abroad on each successful referral. Visit their official page on How To Refer and Earn with the Lebara Refer a Friend program to know more. All their plans are 30-day rolling plans too, meaning that you can change or cancel at any time, or continue to save and earn cash online through referrals.
Download Content in Advance
Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video, and most other streaming services now allow their customers to download the shows and movies which they are interested in. You will still need to authenticate your account with a live sign in every now and then, but you should be able to watch all your downloaded content offline via the respective application. Download a few seasons of any show that you have been planning to watch, along with a few new movies, right before you leave. Streaming video content is the main data hog, so this will make a huge difference.
Besides, downloaded content will always play at the same exact quality that you downloaded it in, meaning that you never have to worry about buffering or low-quality visuals when the Wi-Fi or LTE signal isn’t good enough. Music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, etc. also have the downloaded library feature built into them now. Although streaming music doesn’t eat up as much data as video streaming, it can still add up over time, especially when you are travelling abroad.
Check What Options Your Carrier is Offering
Most carriers do have add-on plans for their customers, so that they can cut down on their roaming charges while overseas. Contact your carrier’s customer care or visit their website to check which one suits your current international travelling plans the best. They are unlikely to be as cost-effective as SIM only deals, but it will still allow you to keep your next phone bill comparatively low. Also, don’t forget to check whether your current network provider has a strong presence in the country where you are going; if they don’t have enough towers there, you will not be able to get much use from your international roaming plans anyway.
Be Selective and Aware of Your Phone Usage
Most carriers will not stop you from making calls, sending texts, or using the data, even if you go past the monthly limit. Instead, they will simply add your extra usage to the bill and send it to you! There are a bunch of ways in which you can keep better track of how you are using your phone, so that you do not end up overshooting your overseas phone budget. Check a few of the usual tricks out below:
- Set up and turn on the mobile data usage limit from inside your phone settings (Both Android and iPhones have the feature)
- Download one of the many apps available on both the App Store and the Play Store to track and check your daily phone usage (number of texts, total call time, data usage, etc.)
- Turn off Play Video Automatically from the settings page on all your social media apps and browsers
- Go to your browser’s settings and turn on Data Saver mode
- Go to instant messaging apps (WhatsApp, FB Mesenger, etc.) and turn off Load media Automatically from the settings
- Don’t make/receive unnecessary calls, whether they are coming through via the cellular network, or the internet
Some would use a feature phone during their travels to reduce any chances of both theft and extra heavy phone bills. However, that is not an ideal strategy if you are in a completely different country. A smartphone can help you to communicate, photograph, find services, breach the language gap, and navigate through unknown territories with relative ease.
Since there are so many ways now to keep your phone bill under control, letting go of all that would be a complete waste. However, if you are using an expensive phone, have it insured against theft and do turn on GPS tracking from the settings. If the local police are any good, they should be able to track a stolen smartphone and find it easily with the tracking feature on.