Traveling internationally can be complicated, however, when you add the additional issues of astronomical phone bills, it is downright overwhelming. To minimize international data usage and avoid paying an arm and a leg for the roaming fees, there are things you can do to prepare your phone before you leave. This ensures you stay connected, without having to purchase an additional data plan.
Download any necessary maps
If you are planning to use your phone for helping you navigate internationally, the very first thing that you will want to do prior to crossing the border is download all necessary maps on your phone. Google Maps allows you to do this for no charge. Once you have downloaded the app, you will be able to download the maps so that you can view then when you are offline. Keep in mind, the maps will expire after a period of 30 days.
It is also smart to do this for areas outside of the main town you plan to visit. This will ensure you can get around no matter where you go, without having to roam with your phone. Also, Google Maps does not allow address tracking when offline, which means you will have to write down any important addresses or cross streets of the places that you want to go so that you are able to locate them on your downloaded maps.
Download anything else you may need
While it may sound like common sense to download everything you want ahead of time, you may not remember what it is like to not have access to the Internet. If you plan to stream podcasts, books or music, you should download it prior to leaving for your trip. You should make sure everything is synced, as well, to a service like iCloud or Google Calendar, to ensure everything is updated. If you have plans to use a translation app, be sure that the data has been locally stored prior to leaving.
Utilize Google voice forwarding for calls
If you are worried you may miss a call from someone then be sure to set up a call forwarding feature prior to leaving. There are a number of services where you can get this service for free. This will ensure that if someone calls you, it will be forwarded to your inbox, and you will be able to retrieve your messages through Wi-Fi. You don’t have to use a permanent forward, since there are temporary options available. You might even save useful files through your micro USB port onto an additional MicroSD card.
Disable cellular data upon arrival
Once you get to your international destination, you should turn off all of your cell data so that you can only access it with a connection to Wi-Fi. This includes push notifications, web browsing and email. There are some cases, when you leave the coverage area of your cell provider that they will send you a text or other message to let you know you are roaming. In some cases, they will not. No matter the case, apps on smartphones have the ability to communicate with the servers no matter if the app is open or not. This means that you need to shut down all communications so you do not incur any type of accidental charge.
If you don’t care that you are going to miss phone calls or if you don’t need any maps, you can avoid these steps altogether and just flip your phone to airplane mode, switching it back on when you have Wi-Fi service. Keeping these tips in mind may help you to save several hundred dollars in roaming fees that, let’s be honest, no one wants to pay.