While the easiest thing to do is to set up International Roaming with your mobile carrier - which will allow people to contact you on your usual number - this can end up being a very, very expensive option.
Telstra International Roaming charges
As an example for those of you with a Telstra mobile, Telstra will charge $2.00 per minute for calls while you are in the UK (both incoming and outgoing), and 75c to send an SMS.
Calls in France will cost $2.50 per minute.
And, if you accidentally use data or send/receive an MMS, you will charged $3.00 per MB.
If you are not planning to make or receive many calls or use data, maybe this is the easiest option to use.
However, if there is the chance that you might be using your phone on regular basis, it is well worth looking at cheaper options.
Purchase SIM cards at your destinations
One option that you have for cheap access to phone and data while you travel is to purchase SIM cards in your destinations.
However, this is not so easy in certain countries, which may require you to have a social security number to purchase a SIM. It also means that you won't know your contact phone number until you purchase the SIM at your destination.
Additionally, to utilise the data offered by these SIMS, you will need to know how to set up certain network Settings to gain access to the carrier's network.
Purchase a 'Travel SIM' before you go
Another option that is cheaper than International roaming - one that I have preferred to use and have recommended to many other clients - is to purchase a pre-paid 'travel SIM' before departing.
My travel SIM of choice over the past couple of years has been the Woolworths Global Roaming SIM, which you can get from any Woolworths supermarket for $29.
You get $10 credit to start you off, and can add credit as required - with the option to set up automatic top-ups to if want to be sure that you always have sufficient credit.
This option allows you to, before you go, give your travel SIM's phone number to friends, family and any businesses that might need to contact you overseas - bank, hotels, airlines, rental car companies, etc. For example, if you get an authorisation SMS every time you pay someone new through your online banking, you can register your temporary number with your bank just before you leave so that you still receive such SMS's.
The Woolworths Global Roaming SIM uses the Vodafone network in the UK, so the phone number for the SIM is a UK mobile number (starting with +44). This means that those who call you on this number are calling an overseas mobile number.
If you are concerned about the cost that this will incur for those who call you, you can choose to pay a little bit extra to register a local number for your Woolworths SIM.
This means that those calling you are only charged the cost of a local call, while you are charge to 'per minute' rate that applies to the country you are travelling in. Some examples of these rates are shown next.
Examples of call, SMS and data rates for Woolworths Global Roaming
When you are in the UK, incoming calls are FREE, and outgoing calls to Australia (or within the UK) are only 18c per minute. Texts are 14c per SMS, and data is 45c/MB.
For France and Italy, incoming calls are only 5c per minute, and outgoing to Australia are 34c per minute. Outgoing calls within the same country are 26c per minute, sending texts is 14c per SMS and data is again 45c per MB.
So you can see that this is so much cheaper than your International Roaming option that is offered by the likes of Telstra.
Do you need help preparing for your travels with your technology?
If you need help with exploring this 'travel SIM' option further, or would like help getting set up with such a SIM before you travel, iTandCoffee can help.
For more great tips about travelling with your iPad, iPhone and other technology, why not come along to one of iTandCoffee's information sessions on this topic, scheduled in June and July.
Find out more about these information sessions here.
A problem that you might encounter when your travel
One of the things that happens when travelling overseas is that your Messages and Phone apps seem to no longer be able to show the names of your contacts.
Instead, you just get phone numbers, which can be a pain when you want to easily recognise who is contacting you.
Keep an eye out for an upcoming iTandCoffee article about how to easily solve this problem.