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Travel Tip: Avoiding International Roaming Charges

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If you’re planning to travel abroad, it’s not necessarily the cost of the plane ticket or hotel that can really get you … it’s your cell phone.

Here’s how you can avoid getting nailed by international roaming charges.

First, you will need to check with your phone company to see if you even have a phone that will work abroad.

More and more U.S. phones are now on the more common GSM cellular network.

But watch out: When you turn on your phone, it will try to connect. If your cell phone can pick up coverage, it will. Translation … roaming fees.

If you’re only planning to travel abroad for a short period of time, call up your phone company before you leave. Many providers now have temporary international plans, like Verizon’s Occasional Global Traveler Program for travel less than 21 days.

But again, watch out: these plans differentiate between voice usage, and data usage such as text messaging and the Internet, so be specific.

Skype now makes apps for smartphones that operate over Wi-Fi and or a cellular network (again, watch the roaming fees) and of course, you can always use it on your laptop. The cost to call a land-line varies, but Skype to Skype calling? Absolutely free.

Check out our gadget guy Phil Baker’s tips on cheaper international calls with International Cell Phones, Data Plans, MiFi Data Cards And Google Voice.

Visit our Gadgets & Gear section for more travel tech.

And check out the rest of our Daily Travel Tips here.