Vacations are meant to be a time of rest, relaxation, rejuvination and renewal…an escape from our hectic daily lives. For some people that “escape” includes freedom from emails, phone calls, Facebook, Twitter and breaking the tether of all those 21st century electronic gadgets that have become such a part of our very existence. Uhhh, yeah right!
The reality is, MOST people will not or cannot completely “disconnect” (yes, I am raising my hand because I definitely fall into this category). So for those that just can’t unplug, what are the options when you travel out of the country that won’t break the bank?
The first, and usually the most expensive option, is an international plan with your cell phone carrier. Determine how much usage you think you will need, and whether you will need texting only, calling and texting or a data plan as well. Call your service provider or go to their website and find out what they have to offer and at what cost. For those that only need some texting, many carriers offer a flat-fee text package that provides a set number of texts for one price.
Second option would be to get a local SIM card for your phone (very popular option for Europe travel). I will admit I’ve never done this, but there are plenty of resources out there to find more info and get one. Just googling “international cell phone prepaid sim cards” will give you thousands of options.
Alternatively, and what is becoming the most popular option (and what I personally use myself) are the wide variety of free apps available to download to your smartphone that work over wifi, such as:
- Google Voice
Some of the resorts (Sandals, Secrets, Palace Resorts) now also provide either an app of their own allowing free phone calls over wifi, or free phone calls to the continental US from your room phone.
I personally use Viber and Google Voice, and it has worked very well (although you really must have a decent wifi connection for an uninterrrupted phone conversation).
Not sure if you’ll be near wifi on your travels? Download a free wifi finder app (again, there is no shortage of choices) so that you can keep tabs on the best spots to pick up that oh-so-coveted signal while on the go.
One thing to remember to save yourself what could potentially be a huge bill, is to turn off your data when you board the plane here in the US. Smartphones almost constantly search for and download data and information, and forgetting to turn it off can be a very costly mistake (even if it’s just for a short time!).