The rise of high-quality third-party messaging apps has revolutionized international travel, making it increasingly viable to rely solely on data. These apps allow you to send messages, share photos, send emails, navigate unfamiliar cities, and even make calls, all while bypassing traditional voice and text charges. Data-Only Plans
While your domestic plan might offer an international option, these plans can often be unreliable, restricting you to slower 2G or 3G networks, or limiting your voice minutes or texts. Avoid unexpected charges by choosing data-only plans. These plans allow you to use your regular smartphones and tablets abroad without any complications. Here’s what you require:
Essentials for Data-Only Plans
- An unlocked device
- A global data-only SIM card
Voice and Text Alternatives
You might be familiar with apps like Skype, FaceTime, WebEx, or WhatsApp. These applications allow you to handle your usual communications over data. Once you start using these user-friendly voice and messaging apps, you may never return to traditional voice and text. Here are some of the top messaging apps available today.
Data-Only Voice Apps
WhatsApp – WhatsApp has firmly established itself as a dominant player in the messaging arena. It was one of the first apps to offer end-to-end encryption, ensuring secure communication between users. Not only is it widely used and adopted due to its user-friendly interface, but it also offers an extensive range of features. These include text messaging, voice and video calls, and the ability to send photos, videos, and voice notes. Furthermore, WhatsApp’s group chat functionality makes it a popular choice for team collaborations, both locally and globally. It’s a comprehensive communication tool that brings all your messaging needs under one roof.
Viber – This alternative gives you a full range of options for messaging and voice calls anywhere in the world. The decent feature set, comprised of messaging, photos, videos, voice notes and voice, also includes entertaining stickers that your more expressive colleagues and friends will appreciate. This is a great set of fun communication tools, all in one single platform.
FaceTime – Exclusive to Apple users, FaceTime lets you voice and video call any other Apple using friend, across the globe. Since FaceTime comes preinstalled on all iOS and Apple products, it’s an easy adoption process for your Apple colleagues to get used to.
Skype – Skype has garnered a devout following, being one of the first apps to provide absolutely free calling from one user to another. Not only do they provide a great service that many people have already adopted, but they also offer very low rates to “Skype-out” to actual phone numbers. Screen sharing, group calls, and completely free text messaging also help for team collaboration across the globe.
Data-Only Messaging Apps
Even with data-only plans, it’s crucial to manage your mobile data usage. Here are some tips:
- Disable notifications and restrict push email on apps that run in the background like social networking notifications, email, GPS, etc. This will conserve your battery and data plan.
- Turn off GPS when not in use to reduce data consumption.
- Data monitoring applications providing users with stats on their usage, like how much data they use during the day and information about which applications are using the most data. My Data Manager for Android and Data Man for iPhone are two popular monitoring apps. Data monitoring apps will send alerts to notify you as you go over certain data thresholds.
Benefits of Going Data-Only plans
Surviving on data only is completely doable for any proactive traveler, and especially rewarding for business travelers. The cost savings can be significant and it eliminates the hassles of managing voice, text and data plans simultaneously.