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Using your phone abroad: 7 top tips

23rd June 2016

With many of you preparing to jet off in search of some much needed sun this summer, we’ve decided to revisit what we think is a very important topic, roaming.  If you’re not aware of how to use your phone properly, you can easily rack up a large bill using it abroad.  It might be easier to turn your phone off, but we know that’s simply not an option for some of you.  So, we’ve put together our 7 top tips for best usage:

Turn off data roaming – Use your mobile abroad and you’ll be ‘roaming’. That’s when you connect to an overseas network and calls are routed via that network provider.  It is important you switch data roaming on your phone off.  This is easy to do and many smartphones even do it automatically.

Use Wi-Fi, even for calls – Nowadays, most cafes, restaurants, hotels and airports operate free Wi-Fi.  You can also use internet-to-phone calling apps like Skype, WhatsApp or Facetime, and call for free.  Using apps such as WhatsApp through Wi-Fi means you can actually message and call and still not incur any charges whatsoever.

Check with your provider – Most UK network providers offer a travel bolt on.  For example, ‘O2 Travel’ charges £1.66 for each day you use data in Europe (up to 50MB), with calls and texts free (upper usage limit of 120), triggered as soon as you use 50kb of data.  It very much depends on your usage, if you think you’ll only send a few texts or make a quick call, you could be better off opting out of O2 travel and paying the going rate (1p a text and 3.6p per minute).

Turn off location services – Ensure location services are switched off.  Each individual app that uses location services will continue to find your location, in the background.  Switch it off in the settings app of your smartphone.

Turn off automatic updates – Most phones will routinely check for available updates and then download them automatically, potentially using massive amounts of data. Be sure to turn these off or set to Wi-Fi only.

Set Facebook auto-play for videos to Wi-Fi only – One from last month’s blog; this could really cost you, even more so abroad.  You can stop this happening by switching auto-play to ‘Wi-Fi only’ in the app settings on your device.

Never use your mobile data to watch TV or download music – Using your 3G or 4G mobile data to stream TV and Movies or download music could really drive your bill up.  It’s simple, if you want to download a song or watch Netflix, stick to Wi-Fi.

Additional tips:
How to turn data roaming off on your phone

iPhone. Go into Settings > Cellular, then tap the data roaming slider to ‘off’.

Samsung. Go into Settings > More Networks > Mobile Networks, then untick the data roaming button.

HTC. Go into Settings > Mobile Data, then untick the data roaming button.

Blackberry. Go into Manage Connections > Mobile Network Options, then change Data Services While Roaming to ‘off’.

Windows phone. Go into Settings > Mobile Network > Data Roaming Options, then select ‘do not roam’.

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