the good old days: cheap and simple, but no Angry Birds app…
We admit it.  Even the savviest travel professionals have a hard time dealing with the most dreaded of surprises, the cell phone roaming fee.  With so many combinations of devices and phone companies, it’s harder than ever to find a direct answer as to how to avoid these charges.  Here are some ways to navigate the murky waters of using your phone while abroad.

Set your phone to Unconditonal Call Forwarding mode so that you don’t wind up paying roaming fees for incoming calls.

Even if you plan to use wireless internet, purchase an international roaming/data plan before you go.  This is a “CYA” maneuver to ensure that you won’t be dinged for a little accidental data usage, such as if you forget to put your phone on airplane mode, or if the wi-fi doesn’t automatically connect.  These plans can be as low as $20/month, depending on your phone company.

If you’re hit with the fees anyway, call the phone company to negotiate.  One of our travel pros recently returned from a trip, only to find a bill for hundreds of dollars for a few calls she made while overseas.  She spoke with an amenable rep at her phone company who retroactively activated a roaming plan, thus reducing her bill significantly.

Buy travel insurance.  A thorough travel insurance plan might cover the cost of calls you need to make in case of emergency, such as calls to your travel agency or airline during trip interruption caused by inclement weather.  Check with your travel professional and/or insurance company to see if you’re covered.

Travel+Leisure has two great articles this month that explain this topic: How to Prevent Cell Phone Roaming Fees and How to Avoid Big Phone Bills Abroad.

Do you have any tips for using your cell phone while traveling abroad?  This is a learning process for us all– so share your advice (or stories of how you learned the hard way!) by leaving a comment below or on our Facebook page.