Beware of high data bills when traveling

Using your phone and tablet while traveling can cost you prohibitively.

Some brandish their phone or tablet to pay their hotel, restaurant, or rental car bill, rent self-service bikes (instead of swiping a credit card), follow a hiking trail, use GPS, find out about nearby restaurants, or simply post photos Instagram and Facebook.

As a result, many end up with a hefty bill from their mobile operator because their plan doesn’t include roaming charges abroad. Here are some tips to avoid this situation.

Before leaving

Disconnect the roaming connection (wandering) data on your devices. However, you can receive calls and SMS, but this mode is still expensive.

The most convenient thing is to opt for your cell phone provider’s daily roaming plan: for $10-$12 in Canada and the United States, and $12-$15 per day in a very large number of countries, you can use your devices so use as if you were in Quebec.

Normally you don’t pay anything until you receive or send an SMS or call. These packages can be ordered online from your supplier’s website, where you can check the countries covered.

If you’re the type who rarely uses your devices while traveling, you can opt for pay-as-you-go. Fees vary, but on average we’re talking 75 cents per SMS (no picture), $5 per MB of data, and $1.60 per minute of talk. However, some providers offer monthly data blocks from $7 to $10 for Canada and the United States, but restrictions apply.

Local SIM card

You can still use local cellular networks. This is the cheapest method and very popular with experienced travelers.

Make sure your device is unlocked. At your destination, buy a SIM card from a convenience store or local operator store (e.g. T-Mobile in the US, Vodaphone or Orange in Europe). You apply for a no-obligation package for the duration of your trip and inherit a local cell phone number (your device must be compatible). However, your usual number no longer works. You can even suspend your service in Quebec for the duration of the trip. To avoid surprises, you can choose prepaid tariffs à la carte.

You can also subscribe to the mobile router service Roam Mobile ( for a specific period (e.g.: 90 days for 100 GB, 20 Mbit/s speed, 5 devices): we will send you a gadget that works in more than 150 countries for $12 to $15 per day, which you return after your trip. You can even buy some models (GlocalMe).


On board cruise ships you have access to Wi-Fi networks offered by the cruise line.

Daily roaming plans from your usual mobile operator do not apply on these ships. Worse, if you’re in offshore waters, these services work via satellite: your bill can skyrocket.


WiFi abroad is always risky. Use only public Wi-Fi networks that are password accessible. Never conduct banking transactions or credit card purchases over these networks. Enable auto-lock after a few minutes of inactivity and use passcodes across all your devices.

Turn on your Bluetooth as little as possible in crowded public places like airports, train stations or festivals. Only use your charger: Some public chargers even download malware onto your devices without your knowledge!

Finally, if your device is stolen, contact your carrier who can disable it remotely.


  • Check which app is consuming the most mobile data and change settings accordingly. Download your Google Maps to your device before you drive for offline use.
  • Disable automatic app or upload updates.
  • Your provider should notify you when international fees reach or exceed $100.
  • Once you’re in a hotel or somewhere where you have access to a free Wi-Fi network, switch to airplane mode. You can’t receive calls, texts, or browse the web over cellular networks, but you can over Wi-Fi.
  • Limit your roaming charges with Skype, FaceTime or Google Duo; SMS with WhatsApp, message with Messenger on Facebook.
  • Use an app that finds free Wi-Fi networks, e.g. B. Wi-Fi Finder, Wi-Fi Map, Wiman or Instabridge.

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