Out of all the planning that goes into creating the perfect escape, one of the most cumbersome tasks is choosing the right option for international mobile phone service. Aside from staying connected with family and friends, having reliable and affordable service can make a world of difference when it comes to safely navigating in a foreign country.
With dozens of free travel apps available on Android and iOS, finding events, locating great travel deals, and getting around in unfamiliar territory has never been easier. The following are all free and easy to use with any smartphone, tablet or computer when connected to the Internet.
- Facetime: By connecting into the WiFi network at your hotel or other location, you’ll be able to video call anyone (who has a Mac product) from your iPhone, iPad or Mac computer.
- iMessages: Send unlimited text messages from an iPhone to anyone with a Mac product (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) and it is like you never left home.
- WhatsApp: A free app for Androids and iPhones, this app uses an Internet connection and not your voice minutes to allow you to text or video call all over the world.
- Viber: Connect with 800 million people when you download this free app that lets you connect one-on-one or in groups as well voice or video calls.
- Facebook: Never miss a beat posting what is going on or what you are doing through the app’s messenger which lets you send messages as well as voice and video call. WiFi service is required.
- Skype: Coordinate a time to talk online and get ready to share some good times. WiFi service is required.
- Google Hangouts: Establish an account, find your friends and family and connect via messaging and voice and video calls. WiFi service is required.
- Google Duo – This “high quality” video call app for iPhones and Androids lets you connect with family and friends with just a tap. WiFi service is required.
Want to keep it simple and keep the phone line on and open? Here’s a summary of international roaming options from the four top carriers as of June 2017.*
AT&T recently launched its new global data roaming plan for subscribers. For a flat rate of $10 per day on the days the phone is used, the International Day Pass allows customers to extend unlimited use of their regular data plan when traveling overseas in more than 100 countries. If you have AT&T’s Unlimited Plus or Unlimited Choice plan, Roam North America provides service in Mexico and Canada at no additional charge when added.
If you’re a customer of Sprint, your access to the network’s Global Roaming plan triggers automatically from the moment you touch down internationally. Sprint offers customers free text messaging and free 2G data roaming in more than 160 destinations. However, phone calls are charged at a rate of $0.20 per minute.
Customers who add T-Mobile ONE Plus ™ International to their T-Mobile ONE plan for $25 a month will receive unlimited international calling to landlines in 70+ countries and mobile numbers in 30+ countries, unlimited in-flight Wi-Fi on Gogo®-enabled flights, voicemail to text and 2x the data speed.
With Verizon’s TravelPass SMCountries, a rate of $10 per day allows you to extend your plan's talk, text and data allowance internationally to more than 100 countries. If you’re traveling to Mexico or Canada, the rate drops to $5 per day.
Remember, if you don’t plan to use mobile phone service while abroad but would like to use your phone or tablet for photos and videos, be sure to place your phone in airplane mode before taking off to your destination. Otherwise, you may start roaming once you turn on your phone and be subjected to charges and fees of the carrier in that country
*Summaries are not comprehensive. Detailed information and rates can be found at each wireless carrier's website.