Dr. Laurin Ostermann

Popular misunderstandings about 'Roaming'

Every year around the summer vacation season friends and family start to ask me about using their mobile phones abroad and the associated costs coming with it. Here are some comon misunderstandings and guidelines to keep your roaming expenses to a minimum.

  1. Voice calls: regular voice calls are the singly most expensive thing you can do when logged into a foreign mobile network. Calling and being called while abroad will result in charges per minute as well as once-per-call fees depending on country and selected cell carrier. Try to read up on the costs before going on your trip. Calls within the EU may be fairly affordable, while non-EU calls can quickly accumulate quite a sum. Calling somebody in your home country will be (reasonably) expensive. THe person, you are calling will not be charged anything! This is one of the monst common misconceptions I’ve encountered.
  2. Texting: Receiving texts is usually free. Some countries are exempt from this rule. Sending texts will normally come in at about 50c per SMS charged to you. The person receiving the text is not charged anything!
  3. Voice Mail: Then, there is Voice Mail. Turn Voice Mail off completely before going on a trip abroad! if you don’t, there is a chance that you may be billed roaming fees even when your phone is turned off as an incoming call is redirected to your vacation destination before it gets routed back to your mailbox in your home country.
  4. Data: At the moment 3G or LTE connections are ridiculously expensive. Tryto avoid using mobile data. Instead, find WiFi hotspots in your hotel, public places or restaurants. Another way is to purchase vacation data plans from your carrier. Costs and availability may strongly vary, according to my experience.

In general, don’t be afraid to use your mobile phone while vacationing, but be careful and think ahead!

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