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10 ways to prevent roaming charges on vacation

10 ways to prevent roaming charges on vacation

If you’re about to leave the country for a fabulous vacation, stop packing for just a minute and let us help you decide something important, like how you’re going to prevent roaming charges. 10 ways to prevent roaming charges on vacation

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Data roaming charges are the extra fees tacked onto your cell phone bill if you visit another country and let your phone ‘roam’ onto new networks. You might also get hit with calling and texting roaming fees if you use your phone number internationally.

Roaming charges are entirely unpleasant, and today we’re talking about how to skip them faster than the credits on Netflix.

From easy-peasy options like switching your phone off and keeping it off to more awesome options like using an eSIM, we’re going to explain every single option you have to prevent roaming charges.

Let’s dive in and discover 10 ways to prevent roaming charges on your vacation!

1. Keep your phone off

If you want to be really cautious and you don’t care about not using your phone on vacation, this is the solution for avoiding roaming charges!

TARGET AUDIENCE: People who are shaken to their core at the idea of roaming charges and/or people who like going ‘off the grid’

INSTRUCTIONS: Power off your device before leaving your regular coverage zone, and don’t turn it back on until you’re safely back in your regular coverage zone. You can leave your phone or home, or carry its lifeless body around for comfort.

BENEFITS: Zero roaming charges, zero calling fees, zero texting fees.

DOWNSIDES: Your phone is now a useless potato. Keep a notebook handy to jot down any clever tweets or one-liners you might want to use when you re-embrace technology back at home.

WARNINGS: None.

COST: Free!

2. Stay on Airplane Mode 10 ways to prevent roaming charges on vacation

Airplane Mode prevents you from using data, talking on the phone, or sending/receiving texts, but you can still use Wi-Fi and you’ll certainly prevent roaming charges.

TARGET AUDIENCE: People who are fine just using Wi-Fi, and don’t care about calling/texting

INSTRUCTIONS: Before leaving your regular coverage zone, swipe down on your phone and tap the Airplane Mode icon. (Or do this prior to take-off when your flight crew advises it, and then just don’t take off Airplane Mode when you arrive.) Keep Airplane Mode on during your entire trip, and don’t turn Airplane Mode off until you have returned home.

BENEFITS: No data roaming charges, calling fees, or texting fees. But you can use Wi-Fi. (iMessage and FaceTime work if they’re set to use your Apple ID.)

DOWNSIDES: No data, no phone calls, no texts. (It’s like you’ve removed your SIM card, except it’s still hiding inside your phone, taking a nap.)

WARNINGS: Just … keep it on airplane mode. If you toggle Airplane Mode off while you’re out of the country, even for a second, roaming charges will rain down on you.

COST: Free if you can get a free (safe) Wi-Fi connection

eu roaming abolition limits

3. Carrier travel plan

Your carrier can likely sell you a ‘travel plan’ where you pay a flat daily rate so you can use data, make phone calls, and send texts.

TARGET AUDIENCE: People with a lot of money who are willing to pay extra for convenience

INSTRUCTIONS: A couple of weeks prior to travelling internationally, talk to your carrier and explain where you’re traveling and for how long. They’ll tell you how much you’ll pay for them to keep you connected abroad. If you’re happy with the amount, you can confirm you want their carrier travel plan. When you’re on vacation, you will typically be charged their daily rate each day, as soon as they detect your phone using data, making or receiving a phone call, or sending or receiving a text.

BENEFITS: Show up on vacation, use your data, make phone calls like a boss, send texts, etc.

DOWNSIDES: no data, no phone calls, no texts. (It’s like you’ve removed your SIM card, except it’s still hiding inside your phone, taking a nap.)

WARNINGS: Ask your carrier how much data you can use, since they might (quietly) charge you hefty fees if you go over their travel plan limit.

COST: Anywhere from $10 a day to $25-ish a day (varies by carrier) on your next cell phone bill

4. Mobile hotspot router 10 ways to prevent roaming charges on vacation

With one of these gadgets, you can bring your own private Wi-Fi hotspot wherever you go and keep the whole family connected.

TARGET AUDIENCE: People who don’t trust public Wi-Fi  and prefer the BYOI (Bring Your Own Internet) option

INSTRUCTIONS: Buy a device like the Nighthawk M6 Pro and follow the instructions!

BENEFITS: You’ve got a travelling Wi-Fi connection controlled by you

DOWNSIDES: This won’t power your regular phone number — it’ll just provide Wi-Fi

WARNINGS: Before your trip, talk to your carrier and confirm you’re not enrolled in a carrier travel plan. (You don’t want to be charged a daily rate if you’re going to already be using this for an internet connection.)

COST: This one retails for around $900

5. Worldwide hotspot access

Pay a monthly fee to get access to private Wi-Fi hotspots all over the world.

TARGET AUDIENCE: People who like Wi-Fi and don’t want to carry around a gadget

INSTRUCTIONS: Subscribe to a Wi-Fi hotspot service like Boingo and follow the instructions!

BENEFITS: You can connect to Wi-Fi hotspots and skip the sketchy public Wi-Fi networks

DOWNSIDES: Has nothing to do with calling/texting on your regular phone number

WARNINGS: Before your trip, talk to your carrier and confirm you’re not enrolled in a carrier travel plan. (You don’t want to be charged a daily rate if you’re going to already be using this for an internet connection.)

COST: This unlimited plan retails for $14.99 per month, and you can cancel anytime

6. Internet that moves with you

If you’re going to be spending time in a remote cottage, sailing on a boat, or zooming along dusty roads in an R.V., you can use Starlink hardware to access high-speed internet via satellite technology and prevent roaming charges.

TARGET AUDIENCE: Fans of Elon Musk

INSTRUCTIONS: Choose from in-motion use (vehicle installation) or portable use (set it up, take it down as needed) and place your order

BENEFITS: It’s your own personal internet connection, and you can pause or unpause service one month at a time

DOWNSIDES: This won’t power your regular phone number. It’s for internet access only.

WARNINGS: Talk to your carrier and make sure you’re not enrolled in a carrier travel plan. (You don’t want to be charged a daily rate if you’re going to already be using this for an internet connection.)

COST: One-time hardware cost of $759 and service for $170/month

7. No data, just calls/texts

If you toggle off Data Roaming, your phone won’t have any data, but you can still call/text on your regular phone number.

TARGET AUDIENCE: People who want to make sure they’re always reachable on their phone number, always, but don’t care about having data all the time. (“Who needs Google Maps? That’s why paper fold-out maps were invented, right?”)

INSTRUCTIONS: Before international travel, toggle Data Roaming OFF on your primary SIM.

BENEFITS: You’re still fully reachable via phone and text, in case of emergencies

DOWNSIDES: No data at all, so you’ll be relying on the mercy of available Wi-Fi networks

WARNINGS: Before your trip, talk to your carrier and confirm you’re not enrolled in a carrier travel plan. (You don’t want to be charged a daily rate — you want the pay-per-use rate for calls and texts only.)

COST: For each text and active calling minute, your carrier will charge you pay-per-use rates. These are usually buried on their website, but they’ll tell you if you ask. It’s often 50 cents or $1 per text (incoming texts are sometimes free) and between $1-$3 per active calling minute.

8. Swap your SIM card

Some travellers swear by removing their regular SIM card and replacing it with a local SIM card at their destination.

TARGET AUDIENCE: People knowledgeable about messing with the guts of their phones, and don’t mind giving up their regular phone number for a while

INSTRUCTIONS: Make sure you have an unlocked phone. Remove your regular SIM card right before leaving the country, and keep it somewhere safe. When you arrive at your destination, purchase a new local SIM card and insert it into your phone. (Bonus points if you speak the local language and are mostly sure you aren’t getting a royally bad deal.)

BENEFITS: You’ll have local mobile data, and your new SIM card might come with a local phone number to use during your trip

DOWNSIDES: No access to your regular phone number at all

WARNINGS: Take good care of your regular SIM card, since that’s where your regular phone number ‘lives.’ If it’s lost or damaged, it can be a pain to get a replacement.

COST: How much you’ll pay for a local SIM card depends on (A) where you’re travelling, (B) how much data you want, (C) the kindness of the person selling it to you, (D) the degree to which you might be conned, and sometimes (E) all of the above

9. Prepaid data, no calls/texts

If your phone is eSIM compatible, you can prevent roaming charges by downloading a digital SIM card (‘eSIM’) with a prepaid data package for your destination.

TARGET AUDIENCE: People who want steady data all the time (driving directions, email, apps, messaging), and would prefer to turn their phone number off to avoid any charges on their next cell phone bill

INSTRUCTIONS: Make sure you have an unlocked phone that’s eSIM compatible. Purchase a prepaid eSIM data package for your destination. Install the eSIM on your phone. Right before leaving the country, prepare your phone for international travel by toggling off your primary SIM so it can’t be used while you’re abroad and telling your phone to begin using your eSIM as soon as you arrive so it can reach a local network.

BENEFITS: You’ll have local mobile data and it’s fully prepaid, with no roaming charges and no surprises. (If you need more data partway through your trip, it’s easy to top up the eSIM with more data.)

DOWNSIDES: You can’t call/text on your regular phone number since your primary SIM is toggled off (but you can call/message using iMessage and FaceTime, an app like Hushed, or a social media account)

WARNINGS: You will become the envy of everyone around you because eSIM is rad. Oh, and to make your prepaid data package last as long as possible, make sure your phone isn’t wasting the data with backups or apps running in the background.

COST: A prepaid eSIM data package costs as little as $3.50, depending on your destination. Shop or browse prices in the free aloSIM app or in the aloSIM web store.

alosim

10. Prepaid data with calls/texts 10 ways to prevent roaming charges on vacation

If you have a dual SIM phone, you can prevent roaming charges while having affordable prepaid travel data + using your regular phone number. Nice!

TARGET AUDIENCE: Very cool people who want affordable travel data AND to call or text on their regular phone number, taking advantage of the Hannah Montana factor (a.k.a. “the best of both worlds”)

INSTRUCTIONS: Make sure you have an unlocked phone that’s eSIM compatible. Purchase a prepaid eSIM data package for your destination. Install the eSIM on your phone. Before leaving the country, prepare your phone for international travel by turning off ‘Data Roaming’ on your primary SIM and telling your phone to begin using your eSIM as soon as you arrive so it can reach a local network.

BENEFITS: local mobile data that’s fully prepaid, with no roaming charges. The ability to quickly top up the eSIM if you need more data. Your regular phone number is buzzing with calls and texts. The adoration of everyone around you because you can hotspot them if they can’t get on Wi-Fi.

DOWNSIDES: Wishing you had known about eSIM on your last trip

WARNINGS: Keep ‘Data Roaming’ off for your primary SIM, and make sure your carrier is NOT going to enroll you in a carrier travel plan as soon as they detect you’re in another country.

COST: Check with your carrier about their pay-per-use rates for phone calls and texts. A prepaid eSIM data package costs as little as $3.50, depending on your destination. Shop or browse prices in the free aloSIM app, or in the aloSIM web store.

Here are some indicative prepaid eSIM card prices for Europe: 

AIRALO*

Europe (39 countries)

1 GB - 7 days - €4.53

3 GB - 30 days - €12.00

10 GB - 30 days - €33.40airalo
UBIGI

Europe (29 countries)

500 MB - 1 day - €2.00

3 GB - 30 days - €8.00

10 GB - 30 days - €19.00

ubigi
Nomad

Europe (36 countries)

1 GB - 7 days - €6.50

3 GB - 15 days - €11.00

10 GB - 30 days - €20.50


nomad
aloSIM 

Europe (32 countries)  

1 GB - 7 days - €4.61 

3 GB - 30 days - €11.99

 10 GB - 30 days- €34.12
 alosim logo
InstaBridge 

Europe (42 countries) 

1 GB - 7 days - €3.73
 
3 GB - 15 days - €8.45

10 GB - 30 days- €17.40 instabridge logo
Yoho Mobile

Europe (43 countries) 

1 GB - 30 days - €4.64 

3 GB - 30 days - €8.46

10 GB -30 days- €22.36

yoho mobile
eSIM Europe 

Europe (42 countries)

5 GB - 10 days - €11.20

10 GB - 30 days - €22.50

20 GB - 30 days - €33.55 EUsim logo
* Get your Airalo discount code here.

 If you have any questions about which package to buy, please reach out to our friendly Customer Support team via email: info@alertify.eu

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Driven by wanderlust and a passion for tech, Sandra is the creative force behind Alertify. Love for exploration and discovery is what sparked the idea for Alertify, a product that likely combines Sandra’s technological expertise with the desire to simplify or enhance travel experiences in some way.