What Is Data Roaming? Tips for Using Your Phone Abroad


Every year, many people head abroad to enjoy a relaxing holiday or for business. We all like to ensure we take along the essentials to make our trip more convenient and enjoyable, and one thing that many of us cannot do without in today’s digital age is our smartphones. People use their smartphones for all sorts of things while abroad, from communication and socializing with those at home through to using travel apps, enjoying entertainment, and much more.

If you do plan to take your phone with you abroad, it is vital that you keep in mind the possible charges you may face. This is due to data roaming, which is essentially where your phone is picked up by another network abroad. In the past, data roaming caused huge issues for a number of reasons. One reason was that people simply weren’t all that tech-savvy and were completely unfamiliar with data roaming. Another reason was the provider charged extortionate rates for data roaming, and this meant that many travelers were hit with huge, unexpected bills upon their return from their trip.

What Has Changed?

When it comes to data roaming, a number of things have changed to help make the situation far better for those traveling with their mobile phones. First off, people are far more knowledgeable now about matters such as this, which means they are far more prepared. This has helped to avoid those nasty huge bills and the accompanying bill shock that so many experienced in the past when returning from their trip.

Another thing that has changed is the amount that providers charge for data roaming, which has reduced considerably. In fact, depending on where you are going, you may not have to worry about additional charges. This has made it far more viable for people to take their smartphones on holiday or business trips with them without having to worry about the amount of their next bill.

Tips to Help on Your Next Trip

Of course, there are still charges in place for data roaming depending on your network operator and the destination you are traveling to. With this in mind, it is important to prepare yourself and familiarize yourself with the situation before you jet off and start using your phone as soon as you reach your destination. Some tips that can help are:

Contact Your Provider

One of the first things you should do when preparing for your trip is to contact your network operator to find out about the data charged. While you can look up the information online, it is often better to speak to someone to avoid any confusion. The data charges, if there are any, will depend on where you are traveling to, so you need to provide these details to the network operator. They will then be able to tell you whether you can use your allowance while abroad or whether there will be additional charges imposed.

Disable Data Roaming

Another thing you may want to do in order to avoid any unexpected bills is to disable your data roaming before you go. This is something you may be able to do yourself on your phone or online if you have an online account with your network operator. If not, you can contact the team to get them to do it on your behalf if you want to ensure it has been done properly. By doing this, you won’t have to worry about the risk of being charged for using your phone abroad, as you will not be able to use data roaming. Of course, you can still use your device on Wi-Fi using your hotel’s Wi-Fi network (or Wi-Fi in other places you visit).

Consider a Add-On

One of the other things you can consider if you are worried about data roaming charges is to speak to your provider about a Add-on package on a temporary basis while you are away. This is something that can prove useful if you do not feel you will have enough inclusive data for your needs or if you want a set amount of additional data for roaming. This can be a far more cost-effective way of using your phone while you are away, and it is certainly preferable to being hit with unexpected and often extortionate charges upon your return.

Check on Fair Usage

If you have data allowance that you can use while you are abroad, do not become complacent. You should bear in mind that there is a fair usage cap from operators, and networks are able to set this cap at a far lower level while you are abroad compared to the cap while you are at home. This puts you at greater risk of using up your allowance quickly and then being charged for any excess use, with charges often sky-high. So, make sure you check what the fair usage limit is with your provider and consider whether this is likely to be adequate for your needs. If not, you may want to consider the bolt-on mentioned above to help you to avoid additional charges.

Preparation Is the Key

Unless you are already well-versed with regard to how your network provider operates when it comes to data roaming, it is vital that you prepare before you go on your trip. Also, remember that rules and regulations can change, so it is always best to double-check with your provider even if you have been abroad with your mobile in the past.

By doing this, you can benefit from far greater peace of mind and reassurance when it comes to using your phone while abroad. You can also make a more informed decision with regard to the best steps to take in order to avoid bill shock and crippling charges for using your phone while you are away.

Network Unlock it!

Why not use a local sim card in the country you are travelling to?  You will be surprised to learn that many countries have cheaper cell plans. In many cases you can pick up a local sim card and data plan for a minimal cost. In order to use a different sim card than the one that came with your phone you will need what’s called an IMEI unlock.  Once it has been unlocked you can use a sim card from a different network carrier (whether local or international) in your phone.  This will also come in handy if you want to switch phone plans or sell your phone in the future.

The above tips will help to ensure you are as prepared as possible when it comes to traveling with your mobile and dealing with data roaming.


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