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International Cell Phone Service Options

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On our first family trip to Europe this summer, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be able to use my cell phone, and if so, how to keep the cost down. After I researched international cell phone service online and didn’t come up with helpful answers, I went to a sure source: my fellow Hilton Moms! With kids of every age and a destination list too long to count, they were able to outline several options for how to use cell phone services while traveling internationally.

Robyn says…Don’t Bother

On our previous trips out of the country, my husband and I have turned our phones off and put them in the hotel safe upon arrival. It’s nice to be unplugged for a few days, and we were traveling in places where we didn’t feel lost with out maps and apps.

>Read more from Robyn.

Marti says…Try Skype

Switch your cell phone to airplane mode, connect to hotel WiFi and then use Skype. You can still access social media and e-mails and place calls inexpensively. For a low fee, you can add a local phone number so others can call you.

>Read more from Marti.

Mary says…Use Offline Apps

Before you leave, download maps and other apps that can be used offline. CityMaps2Go ($2.99) is a good option with many major cities around the world. You can still keep your phone available for pictures, too. Again, just make sure it’s on airplane mode so you’re not connecting unintentionally. Google Voice or Tango are also good options for keeping in touch with family members as they allows you to place a call while connected through WiFi.

>Read more from Mary.

Elena says…Get a Local SIM Card with Your Unlocked Phone

Check with your provider to find out if your phone is unlocked — or ask them to unlock it. Once it is, you can get a local SIM card which will give you a local-to-your-destination number and data plan while abroad. This is especially useful if you will be staying for a longer period or tend to visit the same area. Be certain to put your original SIM card in a safe place so it won’t get lost or damaged!

>Read more from Elena.

Vera says…Upgrade Your Plan

Many service providers will allow you to upgrade your current plan to an international plan for one month. There are additional fees with this, but it’s one of the simplest ways to get the service you want. Don’t forget to unsubscribe from the data plan when you return.

>Read more from Vera.

In the end, we did as Vera suggested and upgraded the data portion of our plan for one month. It was easy to do before we left and the cost was reasonable. We didn’t make any calls, but were able to text, use apps, and check e-mail easily. Although we ended up using our phones very little, it was convenient when we needed to check in for flights or find an address to show a cab driver where we wanted to go.

Have you found ways to stay connected while traveling internationally that are convenient and don’t break the bank? Share with us in the comments!

Explore More: Read our other articles on travel technology.

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Robyn fell in love with travel before kids and has found it even more wonderful since her kids have joined the family. She is married to an amazing…

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