6 tips and tricks for using your mobile phone overseas
We've all heard horror stories about people travelling overseas and coming back to find they have unknowingly run up thousands of dollars in bills thanks to their mobile phone. And we’ve all thought to ourselves after booking a flight abroad: can I use my mobile phone overseas?
Well, the short answer is, yes you can! There are lots of ways you can use your mobile overseas; by purchasing a pre-paid SIM before you leave, picking up a local one at your destination, or simply turning off that sneaky roaming data button and using the available WiFi instead.
To avoid going bankrupt due to crippling global roaming charges and expensive international phone calls, read this guide on the best and cheapest ways to use your mobile phone overseas.
1. Buy a pre-paid SIM
If you’re doing a bit of a tour, and visiting more than one country like, say, France and then Italy, then buying a pre-paid SIM before you leave might be the answer. This is for travellers who definitely want to make calls and receive texts on their mobile overseas. So a couple of weeks before you hop aboard your flight, order a pre-paid SIM card from a company such as 360travelsim. A 360travelsim card costs $20 including $10 credit for the SIM alone with data packages starting at $4 and rising to $50.
2. Buy a local SIM at your destination
This is probably not the best way to use your mobile overseas especially if you’re visiting more than one country. You will be subject to the dreaded hidden roaming fees! You can also usually buy SIM cards at airports, supermarkets, and the odd corner store, making it handy for anyone who isn’t big on forward planning, but for people who don't want to spend much and have a plan on their mind it's not the best option. Also if you're going to buy a local SIM you won't be able to use that card in the next destination without turning on global roaming which comes with extra charges.
3. Buy a local number before leaving home
Huh? A local number before you even close your front door? Well, yes. Sorting out how to use your mobile overseas before you even leave Australia can really set your mind at ease, and it will give you some time to be picky with which carrier and plan you go with. Check out 360travelsim's rates for each country (and it’ll save you researching SIM deals). Receiving calls when you're abroad is free.
4. Use Wi-Fi
Looking for the cheapest way to use your mobile phone overseas? Forego all that pre-paid and pay-as-you-go malarkey and simply turn off global roaming and your mobile data when you’re abroad and get thee to a Wi-Fi hotspot! Cafes, restaurants, airports and public train stations generally offer free WiFi, and if not, you can always rely on a Starbucks being somewhere in the vicinity.
You can communicate via Facebook of course, or use Evcmobi. Evcmobi is great for texting if both parties are connected through the app, also it's a cross-platform and you can call people and voice message. it's super handy if you’re travelling throughout the world as some of the other apps can be blocked.
And lastly, Evcmobi gives the face-to-face calling service for free, which also offers the added bonus of letting you call phone numbers, as long as you whack a little pre-paid credit on there.
5. Download information while connected to WiFi and turn off your non-essential apps
If you’re phone is locked into a contract, and you know you’re going to need to make the odd call or use global roaming data then we suggest you download everything you need either before you leave, or when connected to WiFi. Doing simple things like this will make using your mobile overseas a lot easier (and cheaper). You’ll find that an app like Google Maps is essential when travelling, but a top tip is that you can pin a bunch of locations on the map while you’re online, and these will remain in place and provide a great compass when you’re offline. And importantly, when you aren’t connected to WiFi, turn off automatic updates, don’t use non-essential apps, and turn off your mobile data and international roaming when you’re not using them.
6. Buy pre-paid roaming
Of course, if you are going to be using your cell phone internationally a lot, it might just be worth going the pre-paid roaming route. 360travelsim offers pre-paid plans that allow you to check emails and surf the web when you are overseas. 360travelsim offers International roaming in over 140 countries, covering countries from Cambodia to the USA. You pay a daily fee of either $4 or $10 based on set periods and you get unlimited voice calls and SMS to and from standard numbers.