If you’ve already armed yourself with a smartphone you may wonder how you could survive without having your email, websites and other online services just a few taps away. But if you head overseas you’ll soon find out, because the cost of using 3G data as a ‘roaming’ service is a killer. Many travellers return home to a bill for hundreds or even thousands of dollars in accidental data roaming fees. You can still use Wi-Fi to tap into free hotspots at hotels and cafes, but you’d be wise to turn off your smartphone’s data roaming feature.
· On the iPhone: Open the Settings app and tap General, then Network, and set the Data Roaming switch to ‘Off’.
· For BlackBerry devices: Choose Options, Mobile Network, Data Services and select the ‘Off When Roaming’ setting.
· For Android smartphones: Click Settings, Wireless Controls, Mobile Network Settings and uncheck the ‘Data Roaming’ box.
On the other hand, if you want to make full use of your smartphone during your travels, ask your mobile carrier about their international data roaming plans. Optus has a ‘Bridge Alliance’ partnership with several Asian carriers, with 15MB of data per month available for $40. Telstra’s International Roaming Data Packs for Next G customers begin at $29 for 10MB, while Vodafone’s Roaming Data Bundles provide 25MB of data for $49. These may sound expensive compared to your monthly data plan in Australia, but they represent a substantial discount over the ‘rack rates’ for casual data access while overseas.