The Key to Staying in Touch While Abroad
In today’s day and age, it seems just about everyone has a cell phone. It’s how we stay connected to our friends and loved ones. Cell phones also provide a sense of security in knowing that you can easily call for help should something ever go wrong, wherever you happen to be. Using a cell phone abroad, however, isn’t always simple. There are a number of differences between mobile phone use in the U.S. and elsewhere, as well as additional expenses to take into account. If you’re planning a trip abroad in the near future, here are a few tips to help your cell use go smoothly and avoid any possible surprises on your bill when you return home.
The first thing to keep in mind is that using your existing cell phone while you’re traveling abroad may not even be an option. In order to do so, your cell must meet a few specific standards. The first of these standards is that your phone must use GSM technology. Different carriers use different technologies, so you’ll want to double check with your carrier prior to heading on your trip to find out if theirs is compatible. For instance, at last check, AT&T and T-Mobile both used GSM technology, while Sprint and Verizon used CDMA technology, which, unfortunately, is not typically compatible for use abroad. Your phone must also be tri-band, meaning that it can work on the band in France, and unlocked. You can usually get your phone unlocked by your provider prior to travel.
The second thing you’ll want to consider is the expense of using an existing cell phone on a trip overseas. You want to come home with lots of things to help you remember your amazing trip, but chances are inflated roaming charges on your mobile phone bill probably aren’t one of them. To avoid this hefty expense, you can replace your American SIM card with one from the country you’re visiting. You can typically purchase these SIM cards from your provider before you leave for your vacation, or you can purchase one when you arrive – just make sure that your phone meets the above standards, otherwise it won’t work.
The good news is, if you’re traveling with Discover France, we’ve made it easier and affordable to stay in touch while you’re traveling abroad. We’ve partnered with Telestial Wireless, a provider that specializes in mobile phone service for travelers. Together we offer our guests the choice of 3 different pre-paid rechargeable international cell phone packages, which start as low as $19 and can save up to 70% on roaming charges. Most travelers prefer the SIM card package, provided their cell phone is compatible. There are also phone rental and purchase options available, as well as deeply discounted calling cards for calls from hotel phones and other fixed lines.