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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

How to save on mobile bills on foreign tours

Gagandeep Singh Sapra , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 29, 2014
First Published: 01:45 IST(29/3/2014) | Last Updated: 01:47 IST(29/3/2014)

Travelling abroad? Calling up your family, friends and colleagues, posting updates on Facebook and Twitter and uploading selfies with the Statue of Liberty in the background can get prohibitively expensive.

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If you can't live without your mobile phone even on foreign tours, here are some options to keep you connected without blowing your bank. A little research on the Net can save you a lot of expenses later.

Special plan from your existing provider: If you are planning a short trip of, say two or three days, it makes the most sense to get a roaming plan especially for that country.

Indian telcos such as Vodafone and Airtel (and several others) provide fixed cost international roaming packs that allow you free incoming, local outgoing, outgoing to India and some amount of data.

If you still feel the uncontrollable urge to update your status on social media, find a place with free Wi-Fi.

Local SIM cards: If you are on a longer holiday, or are really addicted to being online and can't live without sending and receiving mails, check out plans being offered by local telcos in the country you will be visiting.

In Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and most South East Asian countries you can get a plan that offers four days of unlimited data usage and some outgoing calls to South Asia for about Rs. 1,000. There are shops within airports that sell these.

In the US, you can get a SIM card starting at $45 (Rs 2,700) that includes unlimited data, talk and text plans, which should last you a month.

You can pick up a SIM card at the airport itself, but remember, in the US there may be an additional surcharge for this. It's usually cheaper to pop into a local store when you reach the city.

Using hotspots: A number of free hotspots are available, from Starbucks to other coffee shops and restaurants that are willing to give you free internet if you dine there. There are also hotspots that charge for usage.

Most international airports will give you free wireless connectivity, and many hotels also provide free wireless at least in the public areas. Upgrading your room for a nominal additional cost to get unlimited Wi-Fi is also a good idea (if your hotel has such a plan).

Wi-Fi providers such as Boingo and Skype have over two million Wi-Fi hotspots across the globe. You can also pick up a prepaid card from Skype or Boingo before you travel for between $7 (Rs 420) and $12 (Rs 720) a month and stay connected.


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