If you’ve got some travel plans coming up for the holidays, you have to make sure that your cellphone plan is completely squared away.
Whether you are traveling abroad or hanging out with family, you’ll want to make sure that you have cell service. So before you go out of town, make sure that you check off all of these boxes.
1. Make sure you won’t be charged for roaming
If you’re traveling outside your wireless network, your cellphone hops onto a different network to provide service. As you can imagine, this kind of wireless roaming costs you extra money (around $2 per MB, which can add up very quickly).
In most cases, you only really need to worry about roaming while traveling internationally, but domestic roaming can still happen in certain parts of the United States. You can avoid roaming entirely by turning off the feature in your phone’s settings.
Navigate to your wireless settings on your device, and you should see an option to turn off roaming. That may leave you without wireless service, but you can still connect to Wi-Fi.
Another option for avoiding roaming charges is to add some international coverage to your cellphone plan. If you already have a premium unlimited cellphone plan, there’s a good chance you already have some international data reserved for trips.
Here are some of the best unlimited plans that come with international traveling perks:
2. Use Wi-Fi as much as possible
Wi-Fi should already be your close friend, but you two should get even closer while traveling. Definitely get the Wi-Fi login sorted out wherever you’re staying for starters.
Even if your in-laws have some long, complicated Wi-Fi password, you must obtain it. Likewise, if you’re staying at an Airbnb or hotel, make sure to get connected to the Wi-Fi network.
And when you’re out and about, hop on Wi-Fi networks as you see them. Using Wi-Fi while traveling shouldn’t cost you a dime, and you can surf the web to your heart’s content.
3. Double-check coverage map
It’s wise to check your wireless coverage map before traveling anywhere. That way you can avoid the nightmare scenario of arriving at your in-laws’ house for a long two-week stay only to find out you don’t get reliable cell service.
To make sure that fate doesn’t befall you, check your carrier’s coverage map before heading out the door.
If you find that your carrier doesn’t service the area you’re visiting, you can either switch to a carrier with better coverage (and potentially take advantage of a deal in doing so) or you can try out a prepaid carrier for a few weeks.
Verizon currently offers the best coverage in the country. Here are the plans you can choose from:
4. Get a prepaid SIM card
If you don’t want to switch carriers, you can always get a prepaid SIM card that’s good for a month or two. Plenty of prepaid cellphone carriers offer excellent service and extremely cheap deals on data plans.
All you need to do is pick a prepaid provider that works best for your travel plans, sign-up for a cellphone plan, insert a new SIM card, activate it and you’re golden.
Prepaid carriers don’t require any contracts or long-term commitments. You can literally just use Mint Mobile (for example) for the month you need it, and then just swap your old SIM card back in and get back to your old network. Here are some of the best deals for prepaid carriers right now: