International Travel Plans can save you a fortune while traveling abroad but only if you understand how to use it. This will give you an overview of general International Plans and how they work.
When you travel outside of the United States and use your phone, you are considered to be roaming. Roaming is different than using Long Distance. Long Distance is when you are in the United States and are calling out to another country. There are different International Plans that help keep your roaming charges low. With a Plan, you have a limit amount of data and sent/received text messages to use within 30 days for one price. Depending on the carrier, your talk minutes are included with the Plan or you get discounted call rates. If you go over your limit, the overage charges still tend to be less than the cost for pay-per-use. International travel plans give you piece of mind that your mobile phone will work while abroad, but you must inform your carrier to activate the plan before you travel.
The first thing you want do is select an International Plan from your carrier. The major carriers such as Verizon, ATT and Sprint all have international options. How long you will be gone and how often you will be away from Wi-Fi will determine which plan is best for you. The amount of minutes, texts, and Megabytes allowed to you is not a lot compared to your normal plan. For example: 100 minutes equates to 10 10-minute calls, and 300MB is 10hrs of streaming music. Free Wi-Fi is your friend while traveling. Connecting to Wi-Fi as often as possible will significantly reduce your data usage and chances of incurring overage charges.
Be mindful of the limits once you select a plan. Download the free app My Data Manager before you leave the United States. Here is a link to our review of the app. This will allow you to see your current data usage. If you think you will run of data before the end of your trip, contact your provider and increase your plan.
There are also new international plan options available by some carriers that allows you to use your regular plan’s data, minutes, and texts for $10 per day only on the days that you use your phone. However, this option is not valid in all countries, so be sure to check with your carrier prior to traveling.