Whether you are travelling for business or pleasure, remaining connected is imperative in today’s day and age. Most holiday goers even prefer to retain their regular number when they are travelling. But simply switching to international roaming with your usual provider may quickly lead to bill shock spanning hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars. Paying as you go could result in excess charges as high as $1.50/min for calls, 0.50/sms and $1/MB of data.
You need to be prepared if you want to continue messaging, posting photos on Instagram, checking work emails, and making long distance phone calls to family. Here are three strategies to reduce your mobile bills while travelling.
Vodafone roaming at $5 a day
Vodafone lets you use your current mobile plan abroad for an additional $5 a day. This is one of the most affordable plans out there, perfect for short trips or even month long vacations. This scheme is valid in over 55 countries globally and lets you use the data, call and text inclusions of your regular plan, as it is. If this sounds too good to be true, it actually gets even better. This plan is free if travelling to New Zealand until 31 January 2018. So New Zealand travellers can seamlessly continue to use existing plans, without paying a single additional cent from their pocket!
The catch? You need to be (or switch to) an existing Vodafone plan. Also, you can use this scheme only for a maximum period of 90 calendar days in a year. Probably not a good deal if you are planning an extended stay in your native country or if you frequently travel abroad.
If you don’t want to switch to Vodafone, you may consider purchasing a Telstra or Optus travel pass. You will need to have or switch to a full Telstra contract to buy the Telstra pass. Similarly, you will need to have or switch to a full Optus contract to purchase the Optus pass.
Telstra International Day Pass :
This pass gives you unlimited calls and texts to standard numbers around the globe for $10 a day. The value of the pass is lower at $5 a day for New Zealand. The only downside is that this plan lets you access only 100 MB of data per day. Quite enough if you just want to check email and WhatsApp, and may be even glance at your Facebook feed. Definitely not enough if you plan to stream videos, upload tons of daily snaps online or video chat with family back home.
If you go over the 100 MB limit, you will need to shell out 3 cents per MB. Bills can sky rocket quickly if you are a heavy data user. A better option would be to pay $25 for an additional 1 GB of data that can be used over a period of 31 days.
Optus Travel Packs :
The Optus pack is similar to Telstra’s and gives unlimited calls, unlimited messages and 100 MB data/day for $10-a-day. The key difference between Optus and Telstra is that Optus lets you roll over left over data. So if your purchases $50 worth of packs for five days, you can spread out the 500 MB data over that period. The only catch is that this pack is available for New Zealand and countries in Asia and North America only. If your destination is elsewhere, you will need to consider other options.
Buy a travel sim (in Australia)
If you are planning to use only mobile data (and make calls over VOIP), you could consider purchasing a travel sim from SimCorner or Globalgig. These prepaid mobile data sims, let you access 1GB data for as little as $30 per month. You can even find roll-over data deals, which let you carry unused data over to the next month. Sim cards differ by destination – but you pay in Australian dollars, and the card gets activated when you reach your destination.
Some other points to remember:
- Consider investing in a local sim if you plan to visit the same destination often. It would definitely be the cheapest option, but your number will change.
- Turn off phone apps you don’t need. They could be using data in the background, inflating your mobile bill unnecessarily.
- Piggyback on the free wifi networks of hotels, airports or cafes for any heavy data needs. You can use FaceTime, Skype or Whatsapp to make free calls over such networks.