Some people may frown on it but my smartphone is just as important to me when traveling with my family as it is when I’m working at home. I love being able to share our experiences as they happen using social media tools, like our Instagram, twitter or Facebook accounts. Being connected also benefits our trips too when looking for directions, getting weather updates or finding the nearest local diner.
Using my phone isn’t an issue when we’re traveling within Canada but cross the border and using this handy tool can prove cost prohibitive. When planning our latest Florida road trip the folks at TELUS, my carrier for over the last twenty years, offered a few wise tips to help avoid high roaming fees:
1. Tap Into WiFi
Most Hotels offer free WiFi and it’s a great way to save on data roaming costs. Even some rest stops on the highway offer WiFi. My phone is set to flag if there is available WiFi in my vicinity but you can also just scan your phone’s WiFi networks screen wherever you stop.
2. Learn Your Device Settings
Learn how to turn your phone on Airplane Mode, turn on GPS and manage apps – even when you’re not using them they can still be running in the background and using data. This also applies to any apps or tools that use Push Technology. At home I have my phone ‘push’ new emails and social media updates to me as they come in. If you keep these same settings, your phone will use your data to keep you updated. Instead I turn these off so when I’m checking email my phone isn’t also updating my social media feeds. I can do those at another time when WiFi is available.
3. Consider Unlocking Your Device
You can unlock your device and use it on foreign networks while traveling by purchasing a local SIM card. Telus offers easy and affordable device unlocking for a low $35 fee. It should be noted that some US networks require a US credit card or a US SIN before you can use their system, which has been a problem for us trying this option.
4. Buy a Travel Pass Before You Leave
TELUS travel passes provide a savings of 50 to 90 percent off regular pay-per-use rates, including US, Mexico, Caribbean and Cuba travel passes. You can find more information on the various travel pass options here.
5. Track Your Roaming Data Usage
Travel Tracker is a convenient web portal accessible via the smartphone’s web browser to help TELUS customers manage their data usage and costs in real-time while traveling. Visit. Ttelusroam.com on any TELUS 4G device while outside of Canada.
The folks at TELUS also suggest:
- Setting a password on your device in case your phone gets misplaced or lost when traveling. This will avoid strangers accessing your personal and confidential information.
- Grab some cool accessories like the OtterBox case to protect your phone from water and sand at the beach. My Sony Xperia Z from TELUS is waterproof meaning I can still capture and share great beach moments without worry.
- Load up on cool apps that will help you on your travels, like a currency convertor, language translator or weather app.
I love using my smartphone when traveling and these simple tips ensure I’m not greeted by a high phone bill when I return home.