Travel Tips

Thu, 21 Jun, 2018Danielle McCarthy

How to avoid mobile phone bill horror stories when travelling

How to avoid mobile phone bill horror stories when travelling

"I'm sorry, calls to this number are not allowed, please try again later". This. Again. At 1am standing outside what I thought was our Galway Airbnb, but instead was a popular alley for Irish revellers to relieve themselves. Brilliant.

After begging a convenience store manager, borrowing a phone and stealing some local wi-fi, we made it to bed before 3am (one-star rating for the Airbnb host, naturally). Such was the power of the phone company when you're on holiday, I still got pinged far-too-high amounts for calls and data used to attempt a check-in at the Irish abode.

A reader recently contacted me wanting to avoid such a conundrum by asking for the best SIM cards available in Europe. Thankfully, EU law has recently shielded travellers from harsh cross-border roaming charges by ruling that providers cannot charge excessively for access to rival networks in fellow EU nations.

You'll see the kiosks hawking pre-paid SIM packages at many major airports. If you want the dependability a SIM provides, assess your needs and shop around. 

Better yet, get to know your smartphone better and use the whole range of mobile apps that will soon make international call and text roaming redundant. Organising hotels, taxis, tours, dinner reservations as well as calling home and making your friends and colleagues jealous with holiday snaps can all be done with a wi-fi connections, which are readily available and far cheaper (if not free).

Avoid phone bill shock when you're away

  • Contact your mobile phone company rep about your destination and length of stay to see what add-ons and spending caps may be best.
  • Only purchase local SIMs if you're in the country more than a week, have an unplanned itinerary or will have no free wi-fi at your accommodation.
  • If you're on a per-day bundle, choose a few days to be on-the-grid and turn off your mobile data on other days.
  • Go wi-fi only, in North American, Asian and European cities it's readily available.
  • Embrace apps like Uber, Gett, WhatsApp, OpenTable and TripAdvisor to book taxis, call home and book restaurants and tours using hotel wi-fi and thus limiting calls.

Do you agree with this advice?

Written by Josh Martin. Republished with permission of Stuff.co.nz.

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