Coming home to a hefty cell phone bill after vacation is an awful feeling. My friend came back from their trip to find they owed nearly $1,000 in fees! However, there are some easy things you can do before leaving the country that will help limit your expenses.
Turning your phone on airplane mode while abroad is easy if you plan. If for some reason you must turn your cell phone back on when overseas, disable any automatic mail-checking features and sign up for a small international data/texting/calling plan from your provider.
Take advantage of these apps to stay connected and avoid a massive phone bill:
Staying in touch with loved ones at home doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. With Skype, you can call anyone (including those without Skype) by adding credits to your account. All you need is Wi-Fi access and you’re good to go! I’ve used this app while on vacation; from an internet cafe in Thailand and my hotel room in Cancun. The best part? The rates are super reasonable – I once went on an entire vacation only needing $10 worth of credits!
City Maps 2Go
City Maps 2Go is an ideal way to navigate a new city without relying on your cell phone provider. By downloading the map while you have access to Wi-Fi, you can use it even when you’re offline. This functions like a paper map (which some of us remember) but allows for digital navigation that doesn’t require data.
Digital cartography cannot tell you exactly where you are offline or give traffic information, but it offers a full map of your downloaded locale that is much better than paper maps. You can even find restaurants, gas stations, and cultural attractions–things we all take for granted with technology today. For those of us who grew up with Garmin GPS: don’t worry, you just need to know how to read a map.
YouMail’s most useful function when traveling abroad is that you can receive an email notification whenever you have a voicemail, even if your data plan is turned off or you’re in airplane mode. Normally, without YouMail, you wouldn’t be able to retrieve your voicemails because they would be tied to your phone plan. This travel app eliminates that by allowing you to still receive phone calls. However, this does not work for text messages and the only exception is iPhone-to-iPhone messaging, which can go through over Wi-Fi rather than SMS.
TripIt is an organizational dream for travel documentation such as plane tickets, hotels, rental cars, and train passes. If you have a hectic trip planned with multiple stops, this app will be your saving grace by giving you facts about each leg of the journey including gate numbers, durations, and contact information for airlines and rental companies. It will also provide helpful maps of your destination city. TripIt is a great tool for individual and group travelers alike. If you have a pro account, TripIt will track your points, find alternate flights, and keep you updated with changes to your plans. It’s also really useful when planning group trips – simply share your itinerary and travel details with whoever you’re traveling with so that everyone is on the same page.
With Postagram, you can send postcards without having to worry about the hassle of finding a physical postcard and mailing it from another country. With this app, all you need is a picture from your phone, and you can send it to anyone you want- whether that’s your best friend or your grandma. The digital age has made it possible to be more personal with our correspondences, so take advantage of that the next time you’re sending out vacation greetings!
I hope these tips help you have amazing trips, whether they’re close to home or farther away.
If you have any apps that we should review, please let us know in the comments section!
Ask Levo Mentor Dorothy McGivney, Founder and Publisher of the travel site Jauntsetter, more about her ideas for travel-friendly apps!