One of the first things that most travelers are worried about when traveling for business is the possibility of incurring large roaming charges for international calls and data while abroad.

When traveling for business, it is always important to make sure that you are not paying more than you should for your phone bill. Here are a few ways that you can avoid paying costly roaming charges.

How does data roaming work?

On a technical level, data roaming works by telecom companies lending their infrastructure to non-customers, when you are outside of the area covered by your provider.

Roaming charges are absurdly high because ISPs are able to monopolize access to that infrastructure. For example, when you travel to the US, you may use your cellular data through T-Mobile or Sprint, but if you connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot in a non-T-Mobile area, you are required to pay a fee.

The idea behind data roaming is to provide a low-cost connection to remote areas. The drawback to this, however, is that the provider is in the best position to make money off the infrastructure, and so they charge more for this.

A pre-checklist for reducing roaming charges:

• Carefully review your contract, and see if better roaming plans are offered by your provider than what you currently have.

• Pay attention to the fine print, such as ‘maintenance’ fees, and other hidden costs in context with your usage.

• Determine the roaming charges on a geographical basis. For example, Canada and several other countries are notorious for expensive data roaming charges.

• Try as much as possible to book accommodations with free WiFi, and install a crowdsourced map for WiFi hotspots (Instabridge, SpeedSpot, Wi-Fi Map, etc.) However, be sure to follow security tips for using public WiFi.

• Disable all your apps from using background data or performing automatic updates during your travel.

• Carry an extra phone that is unlocked to accept different cellular networks, as well as a local SIM card for use in a different country.

Using Your Laptop to Perform Phone Tasks

There are several easy methods of syncing your phone with your laptop, and software that allows you to send a text from your computer, sync files over WiFi, and even control your phone GUI from your computer.

If your smartphone supports Wi-Fi calling, all the better – you can use the Windows Your Phone app to make and receive calls from your phone to your laptop, and with Wi-Fi calling on a free hotspot, you’ll also avoid roaming charges.

A streamlined VoIP service can also save you money on texting and calling over the internet, and will typically have competitive rates in comparison to your carrier’s data roaming.

Google Voice is perhaps the most widely known VoIP platform, but there are plenty of alternatives that are far more user-friendly for texting. Some of these options include OpenPhone, Aircall, Grasshopper, and others.

If there are business apps on your phone that would be more comfortable to use on your laptop, and there aren’t any desktop versions of that app available, you can use screen-mirroring software to control your phone’s screen directly from your laptop.

The latest Windows 11 also has a system for natively installing and running Android apps, allowing you to directly install apps from Google and Amazon stores, though it takes a little configuration.

If you’re able to move as many phone tasks to your laptop as possible, and use our tips to reduce data roaming charges above, your next international business trip will be a lot less expensive on your phone bill.