Watch out for hefty bills for data charges while traveling

If you use your phone and tablet while traveling, you may be exposed to prohibitive costs.

Watch out for hefty bills for data charges while traveling

If you use your phone and tablet while traveling, you may be exposed to prohibitive costs.

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

Consequently, many receive a hefty bill from their cellular operator, because their package does not include roaming charges abroad. Here are some tips to avoid this situation.

Before leaving

When taking off from the plane or at customs, in the car, disconnect the data roaming on your devices. You can, however, receive calls and texts, but this mode is still expensive.

The most convenient way is to opt for the daily roaming plan offered by your cellular provider: for $10 to $12 in Canada and the United States, and $12 to $15 per day in a very large number of countries, you can use your devices as if you were in Quebec.

Normally, you don't pay anything until you receive or send a text or call. These packages can be ordered online, on 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. Charges vary, but, on average, we're talking about 75 cents per text (without photo), $5 per MB of data and $1.60 per minute of calling. However, some providers offer monthly data blocks of $7 to $10 for Canada and the United States, but limits apply.

Local SIM card

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

Make sure your device is unlocked. At the destination, you buy a SIM card at the convenience store or at the store of a local supplier (T-Mobile for example in the United States, Vodaphone or Orange in Europe). You request a no-commitment plan for the duration of your trip and you inherit a local cell phone number (your device must be compatible). However, your usual number will no longer work. You can even suspend your service in Quebec for the duration of the trip. To avoid surprises, you can choose à la carte prepaid packages.

You can also subscribe to the Roam Mobile mobile router service ( for a specific period (for example: 90 days for 100 GB, 20 Mbps speed, 5 devices): we mail you a gadget that works in more than 150 countries for $12 to $15 per day, which you return after your journey. 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 cellular provider do not apply on these ships. Worse, when you are in offshore waters, these services operate by satellite: your bill may explode.


Wi-Fi abroad is always risky. Use only password-accessible public Wi-Fi networks. Never bank or make credit card purchases from these networks. Activate automatic locking after a few minutes of non-use and use access codes for all your devices.

Activate your Bluetooth as little as possible in crowded public places, such as airports, train stations or festivals. Use only your charger: some public chargers even download malware to your devices without your knowledge!

Finally, if your device is stolen, contact your provider, who can deactivate it remotely.

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