Traveling internationally for business can bring unique challenges that require advanced Mobile Expense Management strategies. Fortunately, there are some simple tips for cutting international roaming costs to help ensure your business travelers can stay connected without blowing their data allowances.
These smart strategies include checking with your provider, using Wi-Fi when possible, purchasing local SIM cards, downloading offline maps, and turning off automatic app updates and syncing.
Check with Your Mobile Provider
In the past, international roaming charges were a major hassle for travelers who wanted to stay connected to their loved ones while on an overseas adventure. These fees, applied when your mobile device is used on foreign networks, can add up quickly and are often incurred unintentionally.
While most cellular providers offer affordable options for travelers, it’s essential to thoroughly research and compare plans before deciding which one is right for you. Checking your provider’s international roaming rates and coverage in your destination country can help prevent overage charges.
In addition, it’s also essential to ensure that your mobile device is configured to use Wi-Fi instead of cellular data whenever possible. This will reduce data usage, prevent the phone from connecting to foreign networks, and incur hefty charges.
Additionally, disabling background app refresh and other non-essential features of your mobile devices before you travel are helpful. This will help to avoid unintentional data usage and unnecessarily consuming battery power. Similarly, downloading maps and other content offline can save on data usage.
So, how to avoid roaming charges? Travelers must understand how to avoid these fees, with roaming charges adding up to millions yearly. By checking with their mobile provider, using Wi-Fi when possible, turning off automatic app updates and syncing, downloading offline maps, and purchasing a local SIM card for extended trips, travelers can keep their costs down while staying connected.
International roaming happens when your phone connects to a network outside your domestic provider’s coverage area. This can include networks in neighboring countries and even overseas regions of your home country. Some mobile providers allow you to activate international roaming for data, voice, or text while abroad, though rates will be much higher than those on your domestic plan.
The most common way to avoid international roaming charges is to switch it off entirely or use a data-capped add-on plan abroad. If you must have roaming turned on, limit it to specific instances, such as accessing a ride-sharing app in an unfamiliar city. In addition, you can save on calling charges by asking friends and family to text or use video chatting applications instead of calling directly.
Purchase a Local SIM Card
Purchasing a local SIM card is a great way to avoid high international roaming charges. You can find them at most kiosks (cigarette shops, corner stores, etc.) in the cities and towns you travel to. The savvy traveler can compare prices, plans, and bundles between providers before purchasing.
In most cases, using a local SIM card is much cheaper than international roaming, and data is available for much less per day. This is especially important for those traveling with work-related devices, as they may need to continue conducting business on the road.
When you buy a local SIM card, it will have a unique number that will be used for calling and data services. It is essential to inform your contacts that you will have a new number while abroad, making it easier for them to contact you. Depending on the SIM provider, you must show proof of identity to complete the transaction. You may also be required to swap out your existing SIM card before using the new one.
Download Offline Maps
For those who travel in remote locations or want to avoid using their international data altogether, downloads of Google Maps can be a lifesaver. This feature allows you to view maps without a cellular signal, similar to how topographical maps or paper atlases work.
Usually, smartphone satellite navigation apps gather mapping information as you move, but this can be expensive and time-consuming over foreign networks. Here, you can pre-download maps to your device before your trip, making navigation possible without needing an internet connection.
To use an offline map, navigate to the area you wish to view and long press on the screen until a pin appears. A menu will appear, allowing you to update, rename, or delete the map. Once the map is complete, it will be displayed in your list of offline maps. This can be particularly useful for extreme hikes where cell service may not be available or tourist trails off the beaten path. This allows hikers to navigate confidently and without fear of getting lost.
Disable Automatic App Updates and Syncing
Some apps can unintentionally use up a lot of data when you’re roaming, especially if they are automatically updating. Turn off all apps’ auto-download settings before traveling to avoid any unwelcome charges while roaming.
You can do this by navigating to your device’s Settings app and limiting which apps can access cellular data on your phone. Often, it’s best only to allow essentials like emails or contacts to sync while abroad. If you have a navigation app, you can save data by downloading maps for offline use before your trip.
Texting can be expensive abroad, so consider utilizing free messaging apps. Many apps will even let you make voice and video calls for free over Wi-Fi or data, which can help reduce your international calling costs.