iPhone - International Travel Tips - 2009

Ben Greiner -

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I recently returned from vacation in Western Australia and was able to experience firsthand the iPhone AT&T roaming plan.

Areas of Western Australia can be very remote. When I had service it worked as expected and I was easily able to make local calls. However I only had mobile phone service near the cities and was often without service. To cut down on additional roaming charges I signed up for the AT&T World Traveler and an International Data Package. In addition, I kept data charges low by putting my iPhone in Airplane Mode and using Wi-Fi access whenever possible.

To ensure Wi-Fi access was always available, I brought along an Airport Express Base Station and Ethernet cable to connect to existing Internet connections where I was staying (if they didn’t already have wireless). Below is a checklist of recommendations for traveling abroad with your iPhone.

 

  1. Read iPhone Tips for International Roamers
  2. Login to your AT&T account online and sign up for AT&T World Traveler. It’s only $5.99/month and will ensure you get the best roaming rates. Although even the best roaming rates are more expensive than home rates so be aware of your calling usage.
  3. While you're there, also sign up for an International Data Package. I bought the 20 MB package for $24.99/month. It was more than enough. Check your usage as you go (Reset Statistics when you arrive) … iPhone > Settings > General > Usage.
  4. Keep data charges low by putting your iPhone in Airplane Mode and using Wi-Fi access whenever possible. Optional: Bring along an Airport Express Base Station and Ethernet cable.
  5. Remember to cancel your World Traveler and International Data Package when you return home! HOWEVER, PAY FOR A FULL MONTH. If you were only traveling for a few days and used nearly a month of service, canceling the service early may prompt AT&T to prorate your fees and usage. This will result in expensive roaming fees and eliminate the benefits of the plans (see reader comment below).

 

Additional Travel Tips for all Electronics

Keeping laptop, camera, Nintendo DS, iPod and iPhone batteries charged during my vacation was required. Fortunately, all but my camera battery could be charged through USB. In addition, the Nintendo DS could even be charged using the iPhone USB Power Adapter. Only our Flip Video camera required my laptop USB port for charging.

 

I used the very convenient Apple World Travel Adapter Kit (although it may be overkill if you’re only visiting one country), and not all devices will charge through the iPhone’s USB Power Adapter so test before you leave. Automobile power adapters appear to be universal (though I didn’t test this) so if you’ll be traveling with a car overseas a Belkin auto charger with USB connections could be beneficial. Belkin also has a very cool power strip with USB ports. However, you’ll still need a voltage converter if you plan to bring along this device.

 

Please contact us with any questions and share your tips for traveling abroad!

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3 Comments

  • 0
    Avatar
    Br2olson

    Very helpful. I paid for and used a full month of phone and data on a three week visit to Australia. I had no problems and minimal extra charges. 

    During a five day trip to Canada I made the mistake of canceling the data plan on return home. Since the plan is pro-rated I only purchased a small portion of the 20 MB of data. Excess roaming charges were very high. AT&T was cooperative. They charged me for the full 20 MB of data and credited me the excess roaming.   

     

  • 0
    Avatar
    Ben Greiner

    Additional Tips from AT&T

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    | If you want to place calls but not use data: 

    Turn Data Roaming "OFF". By default, the setting for international data roaming will be in the "OFF" position. Turning "OFF" data roaming blocks email, browsing, visual voicemail and downloads, but it will not block text or picture/video messages.

     
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    | To turn data roaming "ON/OFF", tap on 

    Settings>General>Network>Data Roaming
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    When abroad, international roaming rates apply when you send text or picture/video messages.

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    | To access audible voicemail when data roaming is "OFF", tap on 

    Phone>Voicemail_ (International roaming voice rates apply.)_
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    Utilize Wi-Fi instead of 3G/GPRS/EDGE - Wi-Fi is available in many international airports, hotels and restaurants to browse the Web or check email.
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    | If you want to use data but not receive email automatically: 

    Turn Fetch New Data "OFF" - Check email and sync contacts and calendars manually instead of having the data pushed to your iPhone automatically. This way you can control the flow of data coming to your iPhone.
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    To turn off the Auto-Check functionality tap on

    Settings>Mail, Contacts, Calendars>Fetch New Data, Change Push to "OFF" and select option Fetch Manually
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    Utilize Wi-Fi instead of 3G/GPRS/EDGE to download and manually check email: Wi-Fi is available in many international airports, hotels and restaurants.
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    | If you want to use data and track your usage while abroad: 

    Consider Purchasing an International Data Package: Purchasing an international data package can significantly reduce the cost of using data abroad. AT&T now offers four discount international data packages. The 20 MB package is $24.99 per month, the 50 MB package is $59.99 per month, the 100 MB package is $119.99 per month, and the 200 MB package is $199.99 per month. See  att.com/worldpackages for details and international roaming rates. To add an international data package, call 1-800-331-0500.

    Reset the usage tracker to zero - When you arrive overseas, access the usage tracker in the general settings menu and select reset statistics. This will enable you to track your estimated data usage while abroad. 

     
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    | To reset Usage Tracker to Zero tap on

    Settings>General>Usage>Reset Statistics
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  • 0
    Avatar
    Ben Greiner

    Tip from a reader...

    I go to England a lot. The best thing I did on my last trip was skip the AT&T international data plan completely and instead rented s mobile WiFi hotspot for the 10 days I was there. It cost me about $40 and I had WiFi wherever I was! It was awesome. Tep wireless is the best!!!

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