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How to Avoid International Roaming Charges?

5 things to do to avoid international roaming charges when traveling

· 4 min read

International travel is an exciting adventure, but one aspect that can quickly turn into a financial headache is dealing with hefty international roaming charges. Staying connected while abroad is essential, but it doesn't have to come at the cost of skyrocketing phone bills. With the advancement of technology, there are now convenient and cheap options to help you stay connected as you travel. Let's explore some tips and tricks to help you avoid international roaming charges while still staying connected.


1. Check for Roaming Packages

Before embarking on your trip, check with your provider for the availability of international roaming packages and options. Some providers offer relatively affordable roaming plans for specific regions or countries, and is sometimes a viable option for short-trips to neighbouring countries.

There are various types of packages that providers tend to offer — some give you a fixed allowance of roaming data that you can use; some allow you to roam using the allowance of your regular data plan at an additional cost; while others are pay-as-you-go.

Typically, the pay-as-you-go plans are the most expensive; and if that is the only option that is available for you, you probably do not want to use it. If other options are available, check if any of them are suitable for your needs and if the cost falls within your budget.

Roaming plans and packages are often still more expensive than the other ways of staying connected; but if the price point is reasonable and you value the convenience more, then it is a good option to helping you stay connected.

2. Disable International Roaming

If you are not planning to use roam internationally, you can contact your provider to disable international roaming. If your plan has international roaming totally disabled, there is no way you can use international roaming — which means, you do not have to worry about accidentally incurring roaming charges!

But it is important to be clear which services you are disabling international roaming for - whether it is just for data, or also for calls and messages. It is recommended to disable international roaming only for your mobile data and keep it enabled for calls and messages. This will ensure that you can still receive calls and SMSes in case of emergency.

In most cases, incoming SMSes are not charged, so as long as you don't send a SMS using your primary line, you will not incur any roaming charges — though you should definitely still check your phone plan to confirm the terms of service.

3. Rely on free WiFi networks

One way for you to stay connected without international roaming is to rely on the free WiFi networks that are offered at your destination. Many hotels, cafes, airports, and public spaces offer free WiFi. Prioritize connecting to these networks to avoid relying on your cellular data and incurring roaming charges.

While solely relying on free WiFi means that you wouldn't have to pay a single cent for cellular data, it is important to note that you will not be able to always stay connected when you are traveling between places.

This could be a good option if you do not need to constantly stay connected. But if you are opting to solely rely on free WiFi networks, it is important to ensure that you have your maps and other essential information downloaded in case you need to access them offline.

Also, free WiFi networks are less secure than using your own network as it is being shared by multiple people — so make sure that you do not access any sensitive information while connected to the free WiFI networks!

4. Explore other mobile connectivity options

One of the best ways to keep connected without incurring international roaming charges is to get connectivity locally. This could come in various ways, from renting a portable WiFi router, getting a burner phone, getting a local SIM card, or getting a travel eSIM.

These options are usually cheaper than international roaming — though they do come with certain inconveniences. With a portable WiFi router, you will need to carry around an additional device; and with a burner phone, it might not be easy for you to access your normal apps. A local SIM card with data would likely require you to queue at the airport counters and to submit your identity documents, though this is usually the cheapest option.

A travel eSIM provides a good balance of cost and convenience. While it might not always be cheaper than a local SIM card, it is definitely cheaper than international roaming; and almost always cheaper than a portable WiFi rental or getting a burner phone. The only time a portable WiFi would be cheaper than getting individual SIM cards or travel eSIM would probably be when you are traveling in a large group, and when you will always be sticking together as a group.

Cost aside, travel eSIMs are very convenient. You can easily buy your eSIM plan online, get the installation QR code, and in a few taps on your device, have it installed and activated. However, you do need to make sure that your phone is eSIM-compatible and that it is not carrier locked.

5. Make use of messaging apps and VoIP calls

Finally, make use of messaging apps and VoIP calls to prevent incurring international roaming charges for calls and messages.

There are many different messaging apps today which allow you to stay in touch with your friends and family, as long as they are using the same app and both of you are connected to the internet.

These messaging apps not only allow you to send messages via the internet - most of them also support voice and video calls. This also means that as long as you have mobile connectivity, you can still keep in touch with your friends and family without incurring additional charges for international calls and messages!

Get a Nomad eSIM for your next trip

Nomad offers data plans in over 165 countries, and you can be sure to find one that is suitable for your travel needs. And if you will be traveling across multiple countries, there are also regional plans available so you can stay seamlessly connected as you hop between countries. Data plans are available from as low as $1.50/GB.

If you are unsure about how much data you need for your trip, Nomad also has a Data Calculator that can help you find the plan that is most suitable for you. Also check out our blog post on data-saving tips when traveling to keep your data usage in check when traveling.

Nomad also has a 24-hour customer support team. So, in the event where you face difficulties while using your eSIM, rest assured there will be someone available to help you resolve your issues!