Discover more in the Business Travel series

The 6 Ways To Cutting Phone Costs When Traveling Internationally

International phone bills can easily rack up behind your back. The solution is just as easy.
Author, Profit First
October 05, 2011

If you have ever traveled internationally—whether for business or pleasure—and talked on your cell phone, you may have received a shock when you returned home. Most people just don’t realize how expensive it is to communicate with people back home while they are gone. If you are going to do it via phone, it is going to cost you! But the good news is that there are things you can do to help curb that expense.

Keeping phone costs down while traveling internationally will require that you do a little more than just answer your cell phone and talk, but it will be well worth it when you get the bill.

Here are some tips for keeping your phone costs down while traveling abroad.

Know what you are up against

If you want to use your cell phone while traveling, first find out what you will be paying for international calls. Don’t go into it blindly, or you will most likely feel the sting upon your return home. Making international calls on your cell phone can range from $1-2 per minute, and it’s easy to lose track of the time. So before you go, get in the know by calling your cell phone provider and finding out what it will cost you.

Use WiFi connections to make calls

Depending on the type of phone you have, it may be possible to place free calls and texts if you use the WiFi connection available in certain spots. In order to take advantage of this, however, the conditions need to be right, including having a WiFi-enabled phone system and being at a location free WiFi is offered at the time you need to take or make a call.

Screen your calls

At home, you probably just pick up every call that comes through on your cell phone. But if you are traveling abroad and answer an unnecessary call, you may end up paying a couple of bucks per minute as you try to get off the phone again. If you don’t know who is calling you, or whether or not you need to answer it, let the call go to voice mail and then determine whether you need to call them back.

Look into the available apps

There are some apps available that can be helpful for making international calls and saving money. Check to see which ones would work for you and whether it would be worth it. Usually, such apps are under $10 and may save you a bundle in the end.

Consider using Skype or VoIP

Consider alternative methods to making calls, such as using Skype or VoIP. With Skype, you can make the calls online or with your phone, and it is much cheaper per minute than using your cell phone. Also, VoIP providers offer a variety of plans that allow people to pay one low fee for making international calls. They are both worth checking out.  This is my personal favorite technique by the way. When I travel internationally (or domestically) I always have my laptop and my favorite headset...reaching a call quality that I don't even experience on my office lines (and it costs nothing for skype to Skype and is neglible for international calls).

Respond via e-mail

Not every person who contacts you needs a return phone call, especially while you are out of the country. If you get a message from someone and you can easily address their issue via e-mail, just respond that way. Most likely you will have your laptop with you anyway, so while you are in your hotel room you can catch up on communication.

When you are getting ready to leave the country, the last thing on your mind is probably what you will be paying for international calls. But that is a mistake that many people make, and come to regret. You can avoid this headache by considering and addressing the issue in advance, before you need to leave home!

Author, Profit First