Roaming data—using your phone carrier’s data outside your network or your country—can be very expensive. Here are some ways to limit using your precious data while abroad to avoid coming home to a hefty phone bill.

Keep Your Phone in Airplane Mode

The most important thing to do is ensure your phone cannot receive phone calls and text messages. Every one you receive, not just send, could cost you a lot of money depending on your plan. Keeping your phone in Airplane Mode does not mean you can’t use it; Wi-Fi and Location Services can be manually reactivated, allowing you almost full use of your phone.

Find Alternative Chatting Software

Since texting will be off, you’ll want an alternative way to chat with your friends. Luckily, there’s many Wi-Fi chatting apps available—some of which you may already have. Facebook Messenger is a common one, as is the built-in Messages app for Apple devices. If you want to call family or friends face-to-face, you can use apps such as Skype for standard video chatting; Marco Polo for asynchronous video chatting; or the more niche Discord, which allows for text messages, phone calls and video chatting.

Download Your Area and Navigate

While mapping software often requires a constant data stream to navigate you, you can navigate yourself by downloading the maps of the area for off-line use. Google Maps, for example, has the option to download maps from their database. Then, because Location Services does not use data, you can always see exactly where you are.

Be on the Lookout for Free Wi-Fi

Most hotels will allow you free Wi-Fi while in the room, but there are many other places outside of them that offer complimentary Wi-Fi as well. If you are traveling to places that receive a lot of tourists, you’ll likely find that most restaurants and shopping outlets have free Wi-Fi. This way, you can stay connected even when you are out and about.

Bring a Portable Charger

If you’re going to be using your phone while you are out and about sightseeing all day, it is always a good idea to have a portable charger with you. You never know when something exciting will come up that you have to take a picture of, or if you’ll need to make an emergency call. Even if you’re good at keeping your phone charged, it’s never a bad idea to have a backup plan.

Traveling with your US phone doesn’t need to be a huge expense. With these tips, you can use your phone in smart ways that help you save money and still keep in touch with friends and family at home.

—Chloe Richardson

person on bike holding a cell phone

Photo by Antonio Grosz