Our recent summer trip to Europe was my first trip abroad with my new toy, the Apple iPhone. In addition to using it for checking work email, the iPhone was great for Google maps, games (Scrabble is awesome!), texting, and of course, telephone calls. I was very worried about the cost of using the iPhone abroad, having heard stories from friends who had incurred charges huge charges ($1000 for a three-week period!) while overseas. A little research goes a long way though and I was able to purchase an iPhone package that ultimately saved me quite a bit of money. For $25 I was able to get enough data usage to check my email to respond to work email messages regularly (about three times a week). It was great to use Google Maps and find the fastest route from Andorra to Geneva, Switzerland too, all part of the data usage plan. I also paid $6 for international roaming that provided a discounted rate in case we needed to use the phone in an emergency. And when we were locked out of our hotel room in Andorra at midnight with the front desk unstaffed, believe me, it was an emergency!
The New York Times recently published a detailed article on avoiding excess cell and data charges when traveling, which is very informative. But the most important thing you can do is research your cell and data plan. Every company has different offerings, and different charges, so make sure you know what you are getting into before using your phone abroad. I recommend calling at least twice, as I’ve had friends get different information from two different employees at the same company.
Finally, think seriously about how much you’ll want to use your phone/email while on vacation. They are great to have in case of an emergency, but we all survived before the invention cell phones and email, so perhaps we could go on vacation for two or three weeks and not be as connected with our jobs and home. Note to self.