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Last Updated On: 8/11/2012
For a nation of 300 million people, Americans travel a lot.
Americans are said to make over 60 million international trips a year.
Mind you, that statistic is two-years old.
And the single most indispensable accessory for most of these globetrotters is the cell phone.
Ask any American traveler and she'll tell you that the cell phone is her lifeline in an uncertain world.
The one item she must have at all times. Second only to the passport in importance.
But the moment you step on foreign soil, the mobile phone lifeline can turn into a financial millstone that can throw up a rude surprise when the bill arrives a few months later.
By following the below tips you can avoid unpleasant surprises on your bill.

How to Save on Phone Bills

1. Get a cheap GSM phone and buy a local SIM card. Next, buy some prepaid minutes. Big Advantage: Cheap plus free incoming calls. The disadvantage is that you won't have your U.S. number but that's a small price to pay for the big savings you'll realize.
2. Call your cell phone service provider to check on rates and plans for overseas calls and Internet access. Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile etc have international plans that although not comparable to SIM card based pre-paid local rates can still save you money.  Some U.S. carriers even offer rental phones. So make that call to your carrier before leaving.
3. Turn off roaming on your phone.
4. Restrict your texting only to emergencies.
5. Make sure you have Skype app installed on your cell phone and/or laptop. Skype also has cheap international calling plans. You might want to consider signing up for one of those plans before leaving.
6. Use the free WiFi at your hotel, cafes, universities or other public hotspots to send e-mail to friends and family, to update Facebook/Twitter pages from your phone or to make Skype calls.
7. If you have signed up for the MagicJack service in the U.S., carry the device with you and use it wherever there's a strong WiFi connection. If you have a headset, you can use the MagicJack soft phone by plugging in your headset into the laptop. Big advantage - You can use your U.S. number and calls to the U.S. will be considered local calls.
8.  Make sure to get an international adapter and charger before leaving the homeland. You don't want to waste time searching for an electronics store in a new place and paying a fancy price for something you'll use rarely.
9. If you're using a smartphone like iPhone or one of the Android phones, make sure you turn off your apps and features like fetch data. Also, remember to change your smartphone settings so that e-mail is not downloaded automatically. Set your e-mail settings to check manually.  
10. Talk less. Ever since the invention of mobile phones, the world has become a noisier place.


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