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Cell Phones & International Data Roaming

    These days when we travel, our smartphone is essential. We use maps to help us navigate a foreign city, consult websites and apps for opening hours of museums and sites we plan to visit, we snap photos and videos to share, our kids text friends back home.
    But none of this is free when you travel abroad, unless you use local Wi-Fi.
    One summer driving to Alaska, when we crossed over the border into Canada, suddenly we were in "international data roaming charges apply" land. I had completely forgotten to sign up for an international data usage plan with AT&T for our phones.
    Without an international data usage plan, international data roaming charges are pricey. So expensive that while we drove through British Columbia, our son couldn't text his friends frequently. When we arrived in Alaska, no charges apply, so back to business as usual.
Before you go on your trip abroad, check with your cell phone service provider about international data usage plans.
    Recently, even with an international data plan, we noticed that even though we used the phone very little, somehow 80% of our data allotment was used up in just a few days. It would appear that some apps on our phone use data in the background. For the next trip, we disabled the use of cellular data for certain apps we wouldn't need while traveling.
    Tip: Remember, another option is to use Wi-Fi to connect your smartphone, without data roaming charges. If you have Wi-Fi in your hotel, join that network or, go to a cafe with free Wi-Fi.
travel for kids | travel tips | cell phones - international data roaming
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