Stay Connected When Travelling Overseas: How to Avoid High Roaming Charges

Data roaming refers to your mobile phone’s ability to use data services when you go outside the coverage area of your cellular network. Using data involves having a reliable internet connection so you can check your email, update your social media accounts, use Google Maps, and send tweets when you travel abroad. Be wary, though, because a data roaming service may incur hefty charges.

To prevent bill shock while roaming, here are six tips to implement when you travel abroad.

1. Purchase a data package

There are data packages offering a certain amount of data limit that you can use when travelling within a specified period. Some plans will even notify you if your data allowance is used up or is about to expire. This will inform you if you need to turn off your data roaming service already or subscribe to another data bundle.

So before your travel date, make sure to speak with your service provider so you’ll know your options. Be a well-informed mobile user by understanding any usage limits or potential charges that will apply if you continue to use data services.

2. Switch off data roaming

The most obvious way to avoid hefty data charges is to turn off your data roaming once you get out of the area covered by your network provider. This way, your mobile apps won’t download any data. Also, it prevents you from being charged when you get access to your social media sites and the Internet.

3. Limit your usage to Wi-Fi

There is a way you can surf the Internet, download videos, and stream online music despite switching off your data roaming – and that is to use available Wi-Fi hotspots. So before turning on your data roaming, check if there is an available Wi-Fi wherever you are. For instance, most public places like hotels and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi connection to their customers so make sure to ask if you can use it.

But before using public Wi-Fi connections, you must think carefully, especially if you are transferring sensitive data. Prying eyes and hackers can get their hands on your personal information, banking details, and location, posing a risk to your identity and safety. If possible, use W-Fi connections protected by a password. Also, make sure to install apps like the Kaspersky application that combat hacking and viruses and protect your data.

4. Invest in a local SIM card

If you are travelling for several days and you need to make plenty of calls, texts, and use lots of data, buying a local SIM card is probably your best option. You’ll be charged at local rates instead of high roaming prices.

If, for instance, you are going to visit Iraq, Zain can give you a visitor’s SIM card. This is one of the best choices for visitors because of its affordable local and international prices that will definitely suit your phone needs and budget. This phone line comes with initial free credit that lasts for up to 15 days but can be extended for another 15 days. Once you used up all available credits, you can recharge the SIM with different denominations of Zain recharge cards.

5. Use offline apps

Before leaving your home country, you can download beneficial apps that you can use while you’re away from home even if you’re offline. Google Maps, for instance, will allow you to save an offline map of the area you wish to navigate that you can zoom in and out whenever you want to. The maps can be saved for up to 30 days only so you should bear this in mind.

Be wary though of apps with ads because not only are these annoying but they also consume a considerable amount of mobile data.

6. Turn off updates

Your phone continues to connect to the Internet even if you have switched it off. This ensures that you’ll have the latest updates from your apps and social media channels. Though this is useful, this can cost you a lot in data roaming charges.

Because of this, make sure to switch off updates while roaming and turn it on only when you are connected to a reliable Wi-Fi connection.

Don’t let high data roaming charges ruin your travel abroad. Implement any of these sneaky tips to prevent you from incurring this unnecessary expense whilst staying connected with your loved ones.


Al-moottil P Antony is a C-Suite Executive Support Professional for Zain, a leading mobile and data services operator with a commercial footprint in 8 Middle Eastern and African countries.