11 WAYS YOU CAN AVOID DATA CHARGES ABROAD THAT ACTUALLY WORK
I am currently travelling around Vietnam and when I was at Cong Caphe in Hanoi enjoying a cup of (the best) drip coffee with yoghurt, yes yoghurt, my friend and I were catching up on emails on our phone and I realised my data and global roaming was switched on. Um, how did that happen? Disaster? Absolutely. However, luckily my data and global roaming doesn’t work overseas as I always prefer to use local free wifi, or I sometimes buy a SIM card when I travel abroad. And it got me thinking. How many other travellers like me find themselves in the same conundrum? Coming home to an obscene phone bill is something I want to avoid and you too! It can turn the memories of a perfect holiday into a nightmare very quickly.
With this in mind, I am excited to share 11 tips and trickss I personally use to avoid unwanted data charges abroad.
DO NOT USE DATA ROAMING This tip is pretty simple and very easy to follow. When I board a flight, I check my data and global roaming is turned off (ok so I somehow failed at this in Vietnam, oops!). When these are turned, the mobile carrier at the destination I’m in will charge my home network provider, and in doing so my bills will be significantly higher. So don’t use data roaming
DISABLE PUSH NOTIFICATIONS Instant alerts on our mobile phones are called push notifications, and they use a lot of data. Again, before I board my flight, I switch off as many push notifications as I can. It’s also nice to literally ‘switch off’.
DISABLE AUTO SYNCHING Like push notifications, auto synching uses a lot of data. If it is not essential to use during my travels, I disable auto synching to avoid hefty charges whilst overseas. So make sure your auto synching is turned off too.
KEEP TRACK OF YOUR USAGE I’m all for working smarter, not harder. So I avoid an excessive phone bill when I return home by keeping an eye on the amount of data I might use abroad. I check my data every couple of days, monitor my use and adjust if required.
LOOK FOR DATA PACKAGES This is my favourite tip. Almost every mobile carrier offers international data packs, so when I get to the airport at my destination, I buy a SIM card from a local mobile carrier. I usually buy one with lots of data so I can email, check maps and update Instagram without worrying about it running out. I also look out for the amount of minutes I can use to make local and international calls and texts. Some SIM cards I can keep and reuse, others are only valid for a certain time period, such as 30 days. Regardless, they are totally worth the investment.
CHECK YOUR MOBILES COMPATIBILITY I’ve got an iPhone 6 and it now comes unlocked, which means I can use any SIM card from any mobile carrier around the world. Unfortunately previous models don’t automatically offer automatic unlocking, and this also applies to other brands and Androids. So check before you travel, speak to your mobile carrier at home and see if they need to unlock your phone. They should do it for free also.
LOG OUT OF YOUR EMAIL Did you know that even when your Mail app is closed on your mobile, it is still working behind the scenes to download every new email you receive? So if I don’t need to be on my emails all day, or if I am happy to check my emails once a day when I’m overseas, I log out of my email completely to avoid unwanted data charges.
SET APPS TO WIFI ONLY I love this tip. As mobile apps get updated automatically when our phones have a working data connection, it means data gets used, and a lot of it. So when I am overseas, I change my app settings to enable to apps to only update when I am using wifi.
USE MOBILE FRIENDLY WEBSITES Google has recently cracked down on websites who don’t have mobile-friendly websites; they want the user experience to be seamless and effortless. As a result, we’ll see more mobile-friendly website and that means – fewer data charges. Hurrah! So when I travel overseas, I always avoid using desktop views, even if I don’t love the mobile-friendly experience, it at least means I am saving money.
SCREEN GRAB YOUR MAPS Gone are the days of printing maps and more maps for a holiday abroad. Call me crazy if you will, but before I leave my hotel, I do my research and go screen grab frenzy. With maps, I select the various routes I want to travel by and screen grab every possible angle – zoomed in, zoomed out – to ensure I don’t get lost. It means I don’t have to find or rely on wifi, or use my own data, to find out where I need to go. How easy!
USE YOUR GPS Without a doubt, this is by far my favourite tip as I discovered it by accident. I was road tripping with a friend and we lost mobile reception – and our selected route on my iPhone. I had my iPad in the car and noticed GPS was still tracking the location of my car. This meant we were able to continue driving without worrying about getting lost. Genius!
Bonus Tip: When you are on a road trip where reception might be uncertain, and you do initially have wifi or data while using maps, make sure you zoom in to see individual streets names and zoom out sparingly. If you don’t and you happen lose wifi or data, GPS sometimes won’t be able to give you the name of a street. Which you often or not do need.
USE DATA FREE APPS Recently I was introduced to XE, the worldwide Currency Exchange app. Whilst it costs $x to initially download, I can use it to check the most up to date currency conversion without needing wifi or data. Brilliant! Do you know of any other data and wifi free apps?
I shudder at the thought of coming home from an amazing trip aboard to find a hefty phone bill waiting for me. It’s not a fun ‘welcome home’ present. So if you use other ways to avoid data charges abroad, please feel free to comment below and share your tips with everyone.