Money saving deals to use your mobile device abroad

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by BRIAN M. WESTBROOK / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on April 4, 2014 at 8:56 AM

Updated Friday, Apr 4 at 9:10 AM

We use our phones for just about everything. Dining reservations, checking in on Mariners game scores, or shaving a few minutes off that morning commute.

Could you function without your digital device? How about when you travel to a foreign country?

Ask any mobile device user about traveling to another country (even just across the border into Canada) and you'll hear one word: expensive.

As I learned during a recent trip abroad, it doesn't have to be that way.

New plans and packages from carriers are designed to help you get online while overseas without costing more than the airfare to get you there.

AT&T boasts fast roaming speeds on their 4G LTE network to 200 some countries, International data plans range from $30-to-$80 and the carrier offers a free app specifically to track international usage.

The carrier recently tested usage at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and tells me their customers consumed the equivalent of nearly 900 hours of streaming HD movies and over 20 thousand voice calls. That's just one day, on just one carrier. Not surprisingly, the report confirms travelers are among the top wireless users.

Meanwhile, over at T-Mobile, the company made a splash earlier this year with their Simple Choice plans. The service is $80 for unlimited data (although roaming data is often on slower EDGE networks, suitable for email, web browsing and navigation use). I used this plan myself while in Japan last month and found speeds to be quite sufficient for social media check-ins and looking up train times.

Check your carrier for specifics and special offers. All providers offer international data and voice/text roaming packages.

While abroad, jump on local WiFi networks when possible to save yourself from a galactic bill upon your return home.

When you're on a WiFi network, use voice-over-IP networks with apps such as Microsoft's Skype, Google Hangouts, and the newly-announced Facebook calling service. T-Mobile offers a WiFi calling feature on some of their devices eliminating expensive calls to loved ones back home.

With new packages, and smart use of WiFi networks, you can return home saving enough money to start planning your next international adventure without having to go completely offline.

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