Figuring out the logistics of staying in touch while you travel are important. Luckily the spread of the internet worldwide means that you likely won’t have to go long without access. But, then comes the question, what to do about the cell phone. Fear not! Your cell phone provider is going to have a solution for you. Here’s how the US cell phone services are going to help you, be your travel partner if you will.
- AT&T: ¨More countries. More devices. More options.¨ Excellent! They are going to be anywhere you will be traveling! Suh-weet!
- Verizon: ¨Go International! Bring Your Verizon Wireless Phone With You¨ Well that sounds convenient. Problem solved! Talk, talk talk!
- T-Mobile: ¨Stay in-touch when you travel-for less¨ I smell a budget option! Easy on the wallet.
5 Things You’re Not Being Told
The only problem is they aren’t telling you the whole story. If you fall for it, you will pay for it, literally. By the way, I tried to look up Sprint.com and SprintPCS.com from Colombia and couldn’t access the site. But, I’m sure that if I could have seen their site, it would clearly state this fact while they are trying to sell you on their international coverage. Before you make any decision about your cell phone service when you travel on your career break, I want you to read this important 4-part series. I am going to point out the information that these companies aren’t going to tell you. And, frankly, why should they? It’s not in their economic interest. Losing your contract is chump change to the money they would lose on international roaming fees and rates while you travel.
- You Need an Unlocked Phone to Stay on a Traveler Budget. Your Phone Is Probably Locked. There is software inside your phone that will only let it work with your contracted company’s service and roaming partners. I will explain to you the concept and how to buy and travel with an unlocked phone.
- It’s Way Cheaper to Go Local Than Going Global. Before you go, it sounds so nice to be able to keep your current cell phone number. It sounds so nice that your current service provider works with all these companies around the world. Don’t be fooled that going with one global provider is the answer. It’s not. I will run the numbers to show you how much you can save by getting a pay-as-you-go plan in the countries where you will be.
- You Don’t Need Them. They Need You. I will show you how much revenue these guys earn on their so-called ¨affordable¨ international rates. If you say adios to them, they lose, and big! So, they are going to have an answer for every objection you raise. Be ready to rumble and stand firm.
- It’s Better To Have a Local Number When You Travel. When you travel, who are you going to be talking to? Probably the people in the country you’re traveling in. You may want a phone to help make arrangements, call ahead for lodging, coordinate with tour operators, etc. If you don’t have a local number in that country, no one can call you. I recently had someone coming to visit me in Colombia and she kept giving me her US cell phone number as if I was going to call her. The concept of it being an international call for me to call her when she was in Colombia seemed to escape her. No one in that foreign country will ever call you with that foreign number. And, if you’re keeping it so someone back home can call you easily, don’t. Teach them howto call an international number. Here’s the magic formula if you’re calling from the US: 011+Country Code+City code+Number. (011 tells the phone company that the call is going international)
- There are other alternatives to a cell phone while traveling. In this day and age, you can get by without a cell phone believe it or not. Skype, iPods, email among other technologies help you stay connected even if you don’t have a cell phone. In fact, for the first few months of my career break, I didn’t bother with one. I only got one because I settled in Buenos Aires for a while and in a nesting moment, I got a cheap one, pre-paid.
The way you buy and purchase domestic cell phone service is NOT how you buy international service for long-term travel. Your needs are different and so too is the phone solution you need. In this series, I will be going into detail on how you should be thinking about cell phones for your travel. I will reinforce the above 5 points, I will give you the context, the pros and cons and the actions you need to take to figure out what is best for you, and I will run the numbers. Here are the posts in this series:
- Secrets of Getting An Unlocked Cell Phone For Travel
- The Dollars and ¨Sense¨ of Traveling With an Unlocked Cell Phone
- Traveling Without a Cell Phone: Alternatives to Staying in Touch
Be sure to leave your comments and questions below and I will do my best to answer them or point you in the right direction!