Call Waiting: Avoiding Phone Bills While Abroad

Using your cellular phone internationally can be expensive, not to mention a hassle if your phone doesn’t work in the country you’re visiting. Read on for tips to make your call back home cheaper and easier.

Unlock GSM Phone

Not all cell phones will work in any country. GSM stands for Global System for Mobile Communications network. Basically, this network allows for a phone to work in any location after the SIM card has been switched. The SIM card (or subscriber identification module) is the chip inside that phone that holds all of the phone’s private information such as the number, contact list, owner’s information, etc.

Call your cell phone provider and have them “unlock” the phone. This shouldn’t cost you anything and should only take one phone call. In case you run into trouble (remember that they get more money to sell you and international calling package) check out this link on wireless usage laws: Once your phone is unlocked it’s just a matter of getting a SIM card that matches the area you’re visiting. You can either order one online and try to activate it before you leave or find a wireless store when you get in country and have them do it all for you in the store.

International Calling Plan

If you want to keep your phone and your number for your trip then purchasing a temporary international plan will work best for you. I recommend this option for travelers that plan to be gone for months at a time or are required to make frequent calls. Travelers will normally sign on for the plan right before they leave and cancel it as soon as they get home. International roaming plans usually start at around $30-$40 per month and have a set number of minutes that you can use similar to a Tracfone. Call your wireless provider for more information.

Rent A Phone

This is probably the best option for a traveler that is not techno-savvy. Phones can be rented from National Geographic, as well as various other companies, for a flat rate that is pay as you go. One week for a standard phone is about $50 but they have package plans going all the way up to eight weeks. There are also options for Android and iPhone devices if you need access to the internet while abroad. You’ll get a two new cell numbers (one for the U.S and a European number) but if it’s necessary for you to keep your phone number simply give it to the rental company and they will include it with the phone. Incoming calls and texting are unlimited.

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