Tuesday, January 31, 2012

10 Tips for Cell Phones Before Traveling Overseas

We’ve all seen people on TV and movies casually using their cell phones as they travel to various countries around the globe. No big deal right? Not until you get your monthly statement. Post-vacation cell phone bills are the stuff nightmares are made from. Many of us are very dependent on our cell phones and can’t imagine going on vacation without them. While traveling abroad with your cell phone is totally doable, it does take some careful preparation. Here are 10 tips for cell phone users before traveling overseas.

  1. Plan ahead – The most important thing to do before you travel with your cell phone is to plan ahead. You need to start working on this at least 2 weeks before you leave. It takes time to collect the information you need and make the necessary arrangements. Depending on what type of phone and calling plan you have plus what countries you’re traveling to, the steps you need to make can range from fairly simple to extremely complicated.
  2. Call your provider – The first step in the process is to call your provider. It helps to check plans online and get as much information as you can first, but a thorough phone conversation needs to take place. Be sure to establish a good dialogue and get clarification on anything you don’t quite understand fully. Never assume anything or you may end up regretting it later. Don’t hesitate to ask questions even if they seem trivial or redundant. It’s impossible to ask too many questions and no question is too stupid to ask.
  3. Check bandwidths – Different countries use different bandwidths and only one or two of them are compatible with bandwidths used in the United States. First you need to find out what bandwidth your phone is operating on and then check to see if it’s available in the country you’re traveling to.
  4. Get phone unlocked – Most cell phones sold in the U.S. are locked so that you can’t use them with other carriers or networks. Before you travel you’ll need to get your phone unlocked to accept an overseas plan. This process can be complicated and time consuming, so this emphasizes the need for planning ahead.
  5. GSM phone – If the phone you currently own is not a GSM or “world phone” you may want to consider buying one if you plan on traveling a lot. These phones have the ability to interface with both foreign and U.S. based cell phone networks.
  6. Check plans carefully – In order to use your cell phone overseas, you will need to switch to an international phone plan or be faced with expensive roaming charges. Be sure to check each plan available very carefully to choose which one will work best for you at the lowest cost. The amount of calling time you’ll need along with other features will determine what plan to choose.
  7. Check data plans – It’s important to realize that calling plans and data plans are two different things. You may have unlimited voice usage, but have huge roaming fees for texting and emails. Also be aware that even if your iPhone is turned off it’s constantly checking messages and downloading updates while racking up tons of roaming fees in the process.
  8. Don’t switch too early – When switching to an international plan on your phone, be careful not to implement it too early. One phone call from the airport prior to departure can cost a fortune if you’ve already set you phone to work from another country. Call your provider to switch it for you at arrival date and time.
  9. International charger adapter – Don’t forget that other countries have different electrical systems and the phone charger you have probably won’t work overseas. Be sure to purchase an adapter that will be compatible wherever you’re traveling or you won’t be able to charge your phone.
  10. Change SIM card – Instead of changing calling plans, you may want to just get a prepaid SIM card to use while you travel. These could be less expensive than changing plans depending on where you’re going and how long you’ll be there. The downside is that you’ll lose all the contact information on your current SIM card.

It’s always a good idea to get advice from friends who travel to help you anticipate problems you may not think of on your own. Listening to their horror stories will provide you with priceless information. By learning from other’s mistakes and carefully planning ahead, you can increase your chances of having a pleasant trip with little or no cell phone hassles.

Taken From Phone Service

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