Five simple ways to save on ‘roaming’ when travelling
By: Marc Saltzman
Not only can your pocket-sized device help keep you organized, connected, productive and entertained while on the go, but you’ve also got built-in GPS navigation, a camera and camcorder, alarm clock, pedometer and more.
Problem is, you’re probably afraid to use your phone outside of Canada – especially given the horror stories of travellers coming home to an astronomical wireless bill.
You don’t need to succumb to “Phone Bill Phobia,” as long as you heed these simple travelling tips:
Before you leave on your trip, it pays to pick up a travel plan. Most carriers offer options to purchase add-ons that will save you money on the standard rates for voice, text and data usage while you’re away. WIND Mobile, for example, is the first Canadian carrier to offer unlimited data, talk and text across the U.S. — for just $15/month. With an unlimited plan, you have the freedom to share your entire trip with the world, without the stress of keeping track of your usage or fears of coming home to a crazy bill. If you’re not able to take advantage of a deal like this, you can still prevent “Phone Bill Phobia” with the following suggestions.
Disable push mail, apps
When roaming, manually check for new email instead of having the data pushed to your phone automatically. iPhone and Android users, for example, can turn off “Fetch New Data.” Similarly, go into your Settings and disable pushed notifications for apps that support it — such as live sports scores, real-time weather and news headlines — as it also eats up data.
Turn off ‘Sync’
On a related note, turn off the option to synchronize data and apps automatically. Simply uncheck the “Sync” option in Settings to make the necessary changes. Many time-sensitive apps are set to automatically sync using your data connection — to constantly get new information for you — but you can temporarily disable it or select when to sync (specific dates and times).
Properly close apps
Make sure you properly close apps when you’re done with them – otherwise, they may still be running in the background and using up data (and your battery, too). This includes GPS-based maps/directions, social feeds, games and other apps that might stay open on your phone, though minimized. On Android, press and hold your Home button and then swipe to the right to close apps; iPhone users can double-tap the Home button and then flick up to close each app.
Consider text, IM
Use text messaging (SMS) or instant messaging — like BBM, WhatsApp, iMessage, Kik, Google Hangouts or Facebook Messenger — opposed to making a voice call. Why? It’s a lot quicker and cheaper. After all, there’s a lot less “small talk” when chatting via typed words opposed to a phone call.
If you’re a heavy email user, go into your email settings and choose not to download the entire email from lengthy messages. This way you can manually tap “Get remaining message” (or a similar option) to read the entire text, if desired. Similarly, you can also choose for attachments not to download automatically, such as a large image.
Image courtesy of artur84/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Marc Saltzman is one of North America’s most recognizable and trusted tech experts, specializing in consumer electronics, business technology, interactive entertainment and Internet trends. Marc has authored 15 books since 1996 and currently contributes to nearly 50 high-profile publications in North America, including USA Today, MSN, Yahoo!, Costco Connection, Toronto Star, Postmedia and Movie Entertainment. Marc hosts various video segments, including “Gear Guide” (seen at Cineplex movie theatres and sister chains across Canada) and is a regular guest on CNN, CNN International and CTV’s Canada AM. Marc also hosts “Tech Talk,” a radio show on Montreal’s CJAD 800 (Bell Media).