One of the more common first-world problems
that I encounter in the world of technology is the issue of travelling internationally
and using a mobile phone. Last year there were 9.2 million Australians who left
our shores for a short stay overseas. With almost 1.4 active services per
person in Australia, that gives close to 13 million devices that potentially
travelled overseas.

In the early days of mobile phones,
international roaming was either limited or simply not available and there were
a variety of networks across the world so compatibility was a major issue. I
remember one trip to the US many years ago where I took my phone and hired two
phones on different networks when I arrived to ensure I could stay in touch. We
have certainly progressed since then.

Assuming you have a relatively modern phone
that covers a range of different frequencies and bands then the world is ready
for you to roam. But should you?

The first answer to that question relates to
data versus voice. To break it down simply, the general answer to roaming and
using data is no – unless you are happy to sell your house to pay your data
bill upon your return to Australia.

Voice roaming is a different situation. Every
trip is different and I base my advice on three major factors. Firstly, how
many calls do you intend to make and receive while you are overseas. Secondly,
how long are you going for and lastly, will you be mainly in the one country
the entire time while you are overseas.

With international roaming for voice becoming
much more reasonable, my advice often is to ensure that your account is setup
for international roaming and then simply turn your data off before you leave
the country and use your phone while overseas – but sparingly. Keep in mind
that if you use your normal mobile then not only do you pay for outgoing calls
but you are also partly funding incoming calls.

Using a separate SIM card when travelling can
be a cost effective method but for short trips or instances where you are
moving through a variety or countries it can be more trouble than it is worth.
More to the point, if you need people to contact you, sending people an
international mobile number to call for a short period of time will be a good
way to ensure they don’t contact you – which may not be such a bad thing!

As with so many items, research your specific
circumstances before you leave so you can travel with peace of mind that you
can be in contact without taking out a second mortgage when you return. Bon

Mathew Dickerson

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