October 1, 2012

October 1, 2012

Can I Use My Cell Phone Overseas?

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Monday and I hope you had a very safe and great weekend. It was another very busy weekend for Dab the AIDS Bear and me as the bear was at four events this past weekend. So stay tuned for slide show featuring pictures from the event.

The past few days I have been blogging about the problems with airline travel. Today, I will blog about something that probably bothers a lot of you who do fly regularly outside of the United States and that is not being able to use your cell phone.

So can you use your cellphone when traveling outside of the United States?

The big carriers Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile all have international roaming plans that let you pay a monthly fee, roughly $5, in return for discounts on calls made with your U.S. phone in covered foreign countries. Check with your carrier to see if the countries you'll visit are on its plan.

This is probably the most convenient way, but even with the discounts you may not like the prices AT&T, for instance, charges 99 cents a minute for voice calls made in France and $3.99 in Russia.

Your best bet may be to do what the locals do. Once you've reached your destination, buy a new or used cellphone, suggests Darius Fisher of International Living magazine. You'll pay as little as $25 (airports typically have cellphone shops), plus about $10 for a local "SIM" card, the electronic device that gives the phone a number.

You talk away, using low-cost prepaid minutes. Make sure that any phone you buy is classified as "unlocked" so that you can use SIM cards in multiple countries to make calls at local rates.

Depending on its technical characteristics, your American phone may be convertible into a foreign phone by swapping out a SIM card (you replace the old one on returning). Going this route can be complicated.

You also might consider signing up with Skype, an online service that allows you to make calls from a computer. If you're calling another computer, it's free. If you're calling a phone, there will be a generally low per-minute charge. Many Internet cafes, anticipating people like you, have computers with Skype installed, as well as low-cost Internet calling on other services.

There are lots of choices, but whatever you do, don't just pick up your hotel room's phone and dial home! You can expect to be shocked at the rates.

So hopefully this information will help you the next time you travel outside of the country where you live.

Hope you have a beary safe and great start to your work week.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab