Too many people have returned from their travels with great memories and higher phone bills because they used their phone abroad. Fortunately, the situation is no longer disastrous: the CRTC is monitoring the situation and imposing a limit on roaming charges. But there are a number of ways to stay connected abroad without paying too much.
Depending on the duration and your needs, there are several options available to you.
Travelling in the United States
A package like Videotron’s Borderless plan is worth considering for those who regularly travel to the United States: the plan can be used in the United States (data included, but not unlimited music!), up to 90 days per year.
There is also the possibility to pay per day of use – my ticket on the subject.
An American prepaid SIM
ZIP SIM is a prepaid and pre-charged SIM for travel in the United States. All you have to do is replace your prepaid SIM card when you cross the border. Many websites like SimOptions for example give you the possibility to purchase a prepaid SIM card online. There is a 7-day card, unlimited voice and text and 500 MB of data; there are also data only cards (for your tablet) for 500 MB. The company also offers Roam Mobility – a similar service but paid per use.
A portable modem
It is often the data that we miss the most. The Karma Go is a very nice little 4G cellular modem.
For frequent travelers
Similar to Karma Go, Skyroam is a cellular modem (“hotspot”) that can be used when getting off the plane in 80 countries. The device is for 24 hours of unlimited data; a countdown timer indicates the time remaining. Download speed will vary depending on your location and network; on a trip to San Francisco, my download speed was around 3-4 Mbps – faster than many hotel internet networks! The device comes in a travel case, with an extra rechargeable battery.
Maximum roaming charges
There is a limit on the amount of surprise roaming charges abroad applies. Don’t forget to activate the airplane mode when the plane takes off, to respect safety instructions, but also to increase the autonomy of your phone!
Contact your mobile phone provider before you leave. Simply contact your provider to have your phone unlocked free of charge, which makes it easier to use local SIM cards abroad.
For a short trip (a weekend in the US), ask for the options to use your phone while traveling to your destination for a daily fee, with how much data (this isn’t the time to let your kids have fun watching YouTube videos or music on Spotify!). You can be reached at your own phone number even when you’re abroad. Tip from the pro: use text messages, which are often cheaper than a phone call.
Options to communicate over the internet: Skype, iMessage, Google Hangouts, MagicJack
Use the Skype (cross-platform) or iMessage (Apple only) services to communicate between users of the service free of charge, as long as you are connected to the Internet. With Google Hangouts, you can make free calls to phone numbers anywhere in Canada and the US – always over the Internet. The MagicJack application also works very well.