Use SMS affordably while traveling

If you’ve traveled with your mobile phone internationally — or have done any research on this topic — then you already know that international roaming can be crazy expensive. Making and receiving phone calls and accessing the internet both carry hefty charges that add up quickly. Sending and receiving text (SMS) messages can also be expensive, but this cost is a more manageable.

Travel Tip: Use SMS to stay in touch with your friends, family, and colleagues at home while you’re traveling.

For receiving messages, check with your carrier to see if your domestic texting package allows the text messages you receive while traveling international to be deducted from your monthly allotment of messages. This is the case with AT&T in the US. For example, I have a text messaging plan that allows me to send and receive up to 1,000 messages per month while at home. This means I can receive up to 1,000 messages per month while traveling internationally at no extra cost.

For sending messages, first check to see what your carrier will charge you on a per message basis while you’re traveling. For example, AT&T charges $0.50 per SMS that is sent from outside the US. Then, see if your carrier offers an international texting plan. AT&T’s Global Messaging 50 package, which costs $10 per month, allows you to send 50 SMS messages while outside the US, which reduces the per message cost from $0.50 to just $0.20.

Also, if you’ve you gotten used to have an unlimited texting plan at home, then you’ve probably picked up the habit of sending short, one-phrase messages. While this works with an unlimited plan, this will cost you dearly while traveling. So, be sure to use all 160 characters allowed in each message!

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