Travelers everywhere know what a pain it is to be without a cell phone while on a trip. But the alternative is even worse: unbelievably high rates and charges from using a phone out of the country, even for just a short amount of time. It’s hardly worth using a cell phone for more than a couple of minutes when rates can typically be $2-$5 per minute or more (rates get especially high on cruise ships or in certain countries, and depending on the network). Add on data charges and just a short vacation can lead to an outrageous phone bill. Still, travelers want to call home to tell friends and family about their trip, and they certainly want to have their phone in case of an emergency. Luckily there are a few ways travelers can use their phones outside of the country without having a huge phone bill waiting for them when they get home. These options let people keep their current phones, while others let them get a separate device, almost  like a burner phone, to use in their travels.

Sign Up for an International Contract
Pretty much every cell phone service provider offers international plans. These plans offer low rates for making calls to other countries or for calling home while traveling internationally. Signing up for these plans will save people money when calling and messaging across borders, and travelers who are planning a trip shouldn’t overlook them. Most phones can be made travel ready with international roaming added on. If a phone isn’t compatible, travelers can shop for a temporary device that does have international roaming to use on their trip.

Use a Travel Phone Service
A great alternative to an international contract is a prepaid plan like Ready SIM. With this option, travelers purchase a SIM card for their phone, activate it with one simple text, and start enjoying their plan from wherever they are in the world. They are given a unique phone number based on their location. Plans are customizable and can include, text, talk, data, and any combination, and can last anywhere from 3 to 30 days. Once a SIM card is activated, the plan is in use for whatever its duration is. At the end of the plan, the card is automatically deactivated and can be replaced with a new one. If a SIM card isn’t going to be used, it can easily be resold or given away. The entire process of a self-activating phone is private and anonymous, completely easy to use, and can even be used on any phone.

Try Web Tools
Web tools like Skype offer cheap international calls and messaging through their services as well. With a range of plans, travelers can call mobile phones and landlines from any country, send texts, and access the internet on any wifi connection. With a little forethought, a traveler can easily avoid running up their phone will while traveling abroad without sacrificing the use of their cell phone. Shopping around and looking at what options their service provider has as well as self-activated, disposable SIM cards or web tools, they’re sure to find a great deal on international talk and messaging.