Traveling overseas with your cell phone—without the big bills.


I remember the article I read about the lady in Spain whose daughter used the lady’s cellphone to download a whole movie. The cost was in tens of thousands of pounds. I have paid several hundred dollars bills but that is as far as I have gone. And I would get a local phone even if for a few days unless some company pays my bill.


With the summer travel season in full swing, the last thing on your mind may be your cell phone. Unless, you’re traveling overseas.

Will my phone work in the country I’m traveling to? Will I get socked with per-minute charges? International roaming costs? Will I be able to send and receive text messages? Should I just buy a “disposable” pre-paid phone when I land at my final destination?

We’ve covered these questions—and more—in our recently updated guide to Getting Cell Service Abroad. But, here’s a list of tips for staying-connected while vacationing overseas.

1. Check if your phone will work at your vacation hot-spot. Depending if your phone’s technology (CDMA or GSM) matches the network used at your destination, you have different options. If you can’t take the phone with you, you can rent a phone from your carrier or a third party like Cellhire or 1-800 Mobiles. See “If your cell phone’s a globetrotter,” for more information.

2. Consider suspending your cell phone service if you can’t travel with your phone. If you can’t use your personal cell phone overseas, putting your account on hold might save you some cash—perhaps enough to rent or buy a temporary phone overseas. For more help, see “If your cell phone is a homebody.”

3. Consider texting, rather than talking. You can potentially save yourself from increased minute rates, as most international messages are no more than 50-cents to send, and even cheaper to receive. See “Survival tips for using cell phones internationally,” for rates on specific carriers.

For the ins and outs of international cell service and even more ways to save, see the complete “Getting Cell Service Abroad” article, which is full of up-to-date information and pricing on all your cell travel needs. Just remember to pack a charger, and that cell phone thing is set (if only packing were this easy). —Will Dilella

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