If you’re like me when travelling (for work or pleasure) you need to stay tapped into your business and family from wherever you are. And you don’t want to spend a fortune doing it. If you’ve ever come home to a whopping cell phone bill, read these steps to learn how to minimize the pain.
Plan your communication strategy in the following areas:
Alert your circle: Advise any heavy text communicators that you are travelling, and not to text you via normal methods. Instead, use an application that leverages a data plan or wi-fi such as Viber (an app available on iPhone and Android), Skype (Android, iPhone, Symbian) and ask your contacts to do the same. . Keep in mind that Skype and Viber will not work unless you are on wi-fi or have a data plan.
Buy a texting plan for the area that you will be travelling to. Make sure you check the prices before you leave as some plans are atrociously expensive.
Leverage wi-fi whenever possible. Bear in mind that you always want to make sure it’s a reputable source (see my blog for more info about wi-fi’ing safely:
Get a data plan through your internet provider or if you’ll be in a location for an extended period of time, investigate getting a smart phone from that country so you can use local data plans that should be far cheaper than an extended plan you buy in Canada.
Be selective about downloading attachments. If possible, wait until you are back in your hotel or office, and download the attachments while connected to wi-fi or cable.
Get a voice plan before you leave. Again, if your stay out of country is extended, it may be worthwhile to purchase a phone in that country so you can access their local phone plans.
Use a free voice application such as Viber or Skype. Keep in mind that Skype and Viber will not work unless you either are on wi-fi or have a data plan. Also note that if either you or the other person use Skype or Viber when not on wi-fi, this will impact your / their data usage.
INTERNET AND THIRD PARTY APPLICATIONS / APPS
Be very careful about the frequency and timing in which you use surf the internet and use apps such as Google Maps, Trip Advisor, weather, iTunes, etc. Do these things in a wi-fi spot whenever possible to minimize cellular data plan charges which are always much more expensive when you are outside of Canada, and can eat into your plan pretty quickly.
A FINAL CAUTIONARY TALE
While travelling through Europe recently, a friend of mine made every effort to minimize roaming charges by not texting, not using the internet and turning off her e-mail when not around a wi-fi spot.
A month after returning to the office, she got called in by her boss with the shocking news that she had the highest cell phone bill in the company at over $1,200 dollars for the 3 weeks in which she was travelling.
They were both horrified particularly since she believed she was doing all the rights things to prevent this. After some investigation, she realized Google Maps was the culprit which she used as her personal navigation system throughout Euroope.
It’s hard not to use Google Maps, it’s a great app. To prevent this, do your searching while on wi-fi and write down the instructions. Depending on the make and model of your smartphone, there are settings that you can adjust to either disable calls, texting, or data while you travel so that you don’t risk a surprise phone bill while you are roaming and away from wi-fi.
About the Author
Technical Action Group provides managed IT services, and technical and network support for Toronto, Ontario businesses with 10 to 75 computers who need stable, reliable and secure computer networks to run their business. Visit our website to learn more about us and find out how we can take the frustration out of managing your IT assets. http://www.technicalactiongroup.com/