30 Days to Hawaii: 10 Things to Know About Roaming

Oooooh man. I am so glad Hawaii is covered under under my wireless plan.

Having just gotten back from Vancouver, I remember quite clearly how annoying it is not to have your phone on you while vacationing. Roaming charges for international calls and data plans can literally cost you hundreds of dollars if you are not careful. Here are some things that every person should about their phones before traveling abroad.

  1. The good news is you can probably make calls anywhere you are in the world.
    The International Roaming Service will work in over 140 countries worldwide. For a list of countries where International Roaming Service will work, visit International Dialing and Country Codes.
  2. However, you will probably have a heart attack when you receive your next bill.
    The charges for roaming costs often result in extremely high fees.  If you are traveling to another country, be sure to check the roaming charges that will apply.
  3. You are sometimes considered roaming without even knowing it.
    Roaming occurs when users are in an area that is not covered by their own cellphone provider’s network. If you are unsure, check to see if your phone still says your regular wireless provider (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, etc) and not another company like Rogers Wireless or Telmex.
  4. Seriously, you can sometimes be roaming while still in the United States.
    This goes along with the above, but one time I was in Detroit for the Fight for Air climb up the Detroit Renaissance Center. I was shocked to find out that I had been roaming the entire time through Rogers Wireless. Your cell phone is built to always accept the strongest signal, so if your crap ass provider (T-Mobile) doesn’t have a strong network, sometimes you can be roaming while being miles away from the border.
  5. Never make calls while you’re next to a cruise ship.
    This may seem like a random one, but cruise ships carry their own cell towers so calls can be made while on the open water. These towers are on, even when the ships are docked. If you are in the vicinity of a cruise ship, you have a chance of catching the cruise ship’s signal and not your wireless provider. Since your cell phone will always accept the strongest signal, there is a chance you could be tapping into another wireless eve if you think you haven’t reached international waters yet.
  6. If you must make calls abroad, consider an international calling plan.
    You can also avoid roaming charges if you sign up for an international calling plan through your wireless provider.  Though it will result in a more expensive plan, remember that one mishap with roaming could cost you upwards of two or three hundred dollars .With a plan like this you can have the peace of mind that you won’t find any surprise charges on your bill. However, it is always smart check with your wireless provider about the areas covered.
  7. Or you could buy a pre-paid plan while you are traveling.
    Another option you have is to just fork over $20 for a sim card to put into your phone while you are abroad. These will provide you with a local number, which can be very helpful if you will be contacting people locally more often than if you contact people back home. In addition, since it is pre-paid, you never have to worry about going over your limit. If you do, you can always refill the card with as much money as you think you may need.
  8. Remember that your phone also has a continuous data plan.
    Most of us have smartphones nowadays, so always remember that you can still be roaming even if you don’t make any actual phone calls. If you are receiving emails, using GPS, or playing Words with Friends, (or reading this blog) on your phone while abroad, you are most certainly using a roaming data plan. Now is the time to freak out. Which is why…
  9. Airplane mode can be your best friend.
    You can also tote around your phone “in case of emergency” but keep it on airplane mode. This will allow your phone to remain on at all times, but disable all types of wireless connectivity (no calls, no data). This can be a nice option if you depend on your phone’s camera, want to use it as your MP3, and of course, have it so if you do need to make a call, you can just turn your phone on quickly.
  10. Finally, you can just give the phone companies the proverbial middle finger and just leave your phone at home.
    You are vacationing, right? So why don’t you just leave everything at home? It’s often nice to unplug once in a while, so take this time to leave everything behind and live in the moment!

So the next time you travel, remember these things about roaming, and hopefully you’ll be able to save money, keep in touch, and not have to worry about your phone while you’re on vacation!

Yu Live, Yu Learn

Photo from here.

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