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, 08-01-2010 at 05:51 AM (11809 Views)
“Many leisure travelers with iPhones are going to Europe, not turning off their data and allowing their apps to continue downloading data,” said Ken Grunski, chief executive of Telestial, a company that provides wireless services for travelers. “U.S. travelers were already getting hammered with expensive voice calls that start at $1 per minute. I know of people that have returned home to $1,000 or more roaming bills.”

Luckily for tech-savvy travelers who want to stay in touch, there are ways to avoid spending a small fortune. Here are some options.

Verizon users have a fairly convenient way to deal with this problem. If you’ve been a subscriber for six months or longer, Verizon will lend you a global phone free of charge for trips of 21 days or less; the customer pays only the two-day FedEx fee of $9.99

With everything from Internet radio to online maps to multitudes of apps, iPhones and smartphones can consume huge amounts of data. It might not be a big deal at home, but using all those apps on the road can add up quickly. If you plan on using a lot of data services while traveling, make sure you check with the carrier to see if it offers international data roaming plans.

Frequent travelers may want to consider another money-saving technique: replacing a phone’s American SIM card (the little electronic memory card that identifies and configures your phone) with a local (or country-specific) SIM card. In general, when you do that, all incoming calls will be free and outgoing calls (local or international) can be significantly cheaper.

Internet-based voice services (VoIP) such as Skype ( or Truphone (, which charge as little as 2 cents for calls to regular phones, are among the cheapest ways for international travelers to communicate. This spring, Skype announced support for the iPhone, allowing iPhone users to make or receive Skype calls over either Wi-Fi or 3G connections.

One good option for travelers wanting to use Skype or Wi-Fi while traveling is Boingo Wireless. For $7.95 per month, travelers can sign up with Boingo ( for unlimited Wi-Fi access in hotels, restaurants, cafes, airports and more in over 70 countries. Coupled with Skype or a similar VoIP product on an iPhone, smartphone or computer, it’s hard to beat the value.

“The rates to the U.S. are about 3 cents per minute, plus the cost of the local call,” he said. “It’s a good option for making a call from a land line, especially if you have a conference call to make where you don’t want to worry about call quality.”

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