Yearly reminder: turn off International data roaming when heading abroad

It has been a few years since we last reminded you to pay close attention to your international data usage when you head abroad. And now smartphones are more popular than ever, the time has come to remind you again.

Unless you make specific arrangements with your mobile operator by adding a data roaming package, you will be charged as much as $21 per megabyte of data when abroad. This means you could very easily end up with a $2000 bill for a couple of days of email. The only way to prevent these charges is to disable data on your phone.

Even if you stop checking email and surfing the web, your phone could be doing all kinds of data intensive tasks in the background. Simply forgetting to disable a news or RSS application could cost you $1000 in a week. Every year, people return from their vacation only to be welcomed by a phone bill delivered in a box. Need an example? How about a week in Cancun with an $11.667 Sprint phone bill?

Before you leave:

  • Call your operator and ask whether they have an unlimited or bundled data plan for international usage
  • Always note the name of the customer service rep, along with the time and data
  • Call back before you leave to verify any requested changes were made
  • If you do not want to do data roaming, ask for it to be turned off in your account
  • Turn off data roaming on your phone before you leave the country
  • On some phones, you can alter the “data access point name”, which also blocks all data
  • Consider investing in a prepaid SIM card with data when you are abroad in need of data
  • Keep online activities limited to WiFi when possible

With these simple steps, you should be able to enjoy your trip, without your phone blowing through the budget for your next trip.

[Photo credit; Flickr/Me and the Sysop]