No more getting ‘bill shocked’

Dreading using your smartphone or laptop abroad for fear of landing with enormous, unexpected roaming bill? Follow these simple tips on how to avoid getting ‘bill shocked’ even while staying connected with your friends and family during travel...
Don't let huge phone bills ruin your holiday
You probably have heard horror stories from either your friends or relatives who have returned from a trip abroad with a crazily huge, unexpected and unexplainable phone or tab/ laptop bill. This is a common occurrence among those who tend to use their smartphone or tab to look up travel information, send digital postcards, or even do routine things like check and send texts and emails. Such humungous bills often end up acting as a downer on your happy post-holiday vibes. To avoid getting such an expensive yet unpleasant souvenir in your phone bill, whenever you travel (especially abroad), here are some super smart ways of using your smartphone.

Make sure it will work
The first and most important point is to check, whether your phone will work in your intended travel destination or not? This is essential while travelling abroad, as cell phone providers around the world use various technologies and frequencies, and there’s no assurance that your phone will work with all of them. If you are not sure if your phone will function abroad, it is always a good idea to contact the mobile phone company’s customer support and ask for details. Once it is confirmed that your phone will work in a particular destination, contact your service provider to enable roaming on your phone. You will have to check this beforehand, as most service providers don’t enable roaming automatically, owing to the high costs involved.

Turn it off
Not your phone silly, we are talking about your data roaming. Turn off your mobile data before you board the plane to your destination, and let it remain that way until you get home. Simply switching off your phone won’t help, as smartphones tend to update apps, even when switched off. So, the best way to avoid getting slapped with huge phone bill is to limit your data downloads by opting for Wi-Fi only. Most holiday accommodations now offer Wi-Fi – free or at a relatively small cost – while cafes and eateries can fill in the gaps when you’re on the move. This would help save you a lot of money, especially if you have a habit of checking your emails on the go.

Go local, buy a temporary local number to cut phone bill costs
If you’d prefer to avoid roaming charges entirely, it’s possible to do so with an unlocked GSM smartphone. GSM phones offer you the freedom to replace your existing SIM card with a local number from your destination. These local numbers are relatively cheaper while making calls or sending texts.

Apps for calls
Since you have already put your phone on a Wi-Fi mode, consider using apps like Skype, BBM, Facetime or Google Voice when you need to stay in touch with friends and family back home. Rather than paying high international calling and text rates, these apps let you talk and send texts for free or cheap to anybody around the world.

Kids will be kids, and they will use their phones on holidays, so you better prepare yourself for it
Keep the kids in mind
If you are taking your kids along on your holiday, do keep in mind that kids will – despite you telling them not to do so – play games on their phone, message friends or check Facebook, almost every day. While you can’t stop them from playing games on their phone, you can certainly limit their usage by giving them a pay-as-you-go SIM. This way, they won’t be able to turn data roaming back on and spend your money on downloading or playing games.  

Use a payphone
If you have to make local calls like booking a restaurant or calling a cab service, the best way (and the cheapest) to do is by using a payphone. This will save you plenty of cash, especially during international travels. For example, a four-minute call to book a local restaurant in London could cost as much as £5 (Rs 500) from your mobile (depending on your operator), compared with around 15p (Rs 15) from one of the city’s payphones.

Keep these tips in mind and enjoy your holiday, sans any shockers.
Happy travelling and Happy 2015 :)