After trying it three times, I can highly recommend the International Data Package for your mobile phone. It’s a $30 a month package that you can select on-line from your carrier, then delete after you return from your trip. I’ve used it in Europe and in South America. I’ve found it to be invaluable.
The package allows 120 Meg of data transfer but does not cover phone calls, which I intentionally do not use because of the high cost. I use the data package sparingly by following these guidelines:
1. I have an iPhone 5 so yours may have a different menu system. I go to my Settings and put my phone in Airplane Mode when I depart on my flight. Once I arrive at my destination hotel, I go to Settings again and select Wi-Fi, which was switched off automatically when I went to Airplane Mode. I click it back on and wait for the hotel’s Wi-Fi to acquire. I operate in the Wi-Fi mode as much as possible since this allows unlimited and free access to emails, maps, web surfing and uploading pictures.
2. After doing most of my mapping and schedule planning, I keep my phone in this setting which allows me to continue to review maps and data already downloaded and stored on my phone. If Wi-Fi is available at restaurants or shops, I use their Wi-Fi.
3. If I find that I need to get more information on restaurants, directions to my next address or check something on TripAdvisor, I go to Settings again and turn the Airplane Mode off. My iPhone allows my cell phone to still be either Off or On, so I go to General, then select Cellular and make sure that the Cellular is On. This enables all aspects of the cell phone to be turned on, including cell phone calls, voicemail, data and roaming, so be careful in case someone tries to call. Unless it’s an emergency, I do not take or make calls. However, it’s nice to know that you could make calls if you needed to. I’ll cost an arm and a leg though.
4. I have found that I mainly use the maps and TripAdvisor to help locate points of interest, restaurants and clubs or business locations. Once I’ve gotten my information or arrived at my destination, I switch back to Airplane Mode and go back to the Wi-Fi On setting again.
I have done this on three separate international trips and been very pleased with the results. I upload photos to Facebook and check email using the Wi-Fi settings and sparing use the cellular data only when needed when I’m out and about. The package allows 120 Meg but I typically am using only about 30 Meg. I was quite surprised that I only used that much.
I enjoy the convenience of having the use of my iPhone if I need it, but find that for $30, I’m able to be connected and close to whatever I may need to have from my phone or the internet.
One last reminder: Be sure to log back on to your cell phone account ( mine is with AT&T) and deselect, or discontinue this package. AT&T will continue to charge for this service unless you discontinue it. They don’t allow you to specify a termination date when you sign up, which would be much nicer. Obviously, they hope you keep paying for it. Just be sure to terminate it when you get home. You’ll still be charged for a full month.
Happy Data Transfers!