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Travel

Cheaper Options for Using Your Smart Phone While Traveling Abroad

Take your smart phone abroad without paying a fortune to use it.

Travelers are used to shutting off data connec­tivity and rationing voice minutes and texts when they take their smart phone abroad. Without a prepaid global plan, roaming charges of a few dollars per minute are common, and using a single megabyte of data can gouge you $20. Fortunately, more options are available for those on the go. T-Mobile’s Simple Choice plan allows unlimited data over 2G connections (you can pay extra for higher speeds) and texting in more than 100 countries.

Another option to avoid coming home to a gigantic bill is to buy an international data package from your carrier that will net you a certain amount of data—say, 100MB for $25, enough to send a handful of e-mails and sparingly surf the Web. (Check whether your phone will operate in your destination.) Or switch your device to airplane mode, which will block costly calls, texts and data but allow Wi-Fi, enabling you to call or text free (or cheaply) with voice apps such as MagicJack or Skype or texting apps such as WhatsApp (which recently announced that voice calling will be added this year).

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Alternatively, you can install a local SIM card in an unlocked phone, or rent a portable gadget that creates a personal wireless connection; XCom Global’s mobile hot spot connects several devices for $15 per day.

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