If you’ve ever traveled with a cell phone, then you know the pain of roaming charges.

In fact, 1-in-6 mobile phone users say they’ve experienced “bill shock” - which is the term for a sudden and unexpected jump in your monthly bill, usually triggered by roaming charges. It’s why uploading one vacation photo from the Eiffel Tower could easily cost you an extra $50, and streaming one movie from your hotel room could cost $18,000 - causing a sudden and unexpected jump in your monthly bill! But there are still some things you can do to avoid getting hit with “bill shock” the next time you travel:

  • First: Turn off ANY phone settings that are “automatic.” Because most new smartphones and tablets are designed to download email and update apps automatically – even when they’re switched off. That means you’ll get charged every time your phone registers an incoming Facebook post, or baseball score, for example.

  • Next: Try Skype. That’s a service that offers free video calls, and cheap voice calls, over a Wi-Fi network.The catch here is that if you use Skype on your smartphone, you need to make sure that your cellular connection is turned off, otherwise, you’ll run up huge data charges!

  • One more way to avoid roaming charges when you travel: RENT a phone. For example: A company called Travel Cell rents phones for as little as $20 a week. And they can be set up to make calls - or send text messages - around the world, at a fraction of the cost of roaming charges.