(ANGIE'S LIST) - Texting or using apps are common with smartphones and free with many wireless plans, but those habits could be costly if you travel abroad.
Angie's List founder Angie Hicks says the first step in avoiding data charges when traveling overseas is to check with your carrier.
"You want to be sure that you check with your cell phone carrier to understand the charges associated with your phone and your data plan when you're out of the country because it's not unusual for people to actually rack up hundreds of dollars of extra unexpected expense," Hicks said.
Texting or using an app aren't the only things that could cost you. Checking emails or uploading photos to Instagram or Facebook use data and will cost you every time.
David Webb, an international traveler purchased a $40 travel plan through his cell phone carrier when he traveled to Ireland. He says opening just a handful of work emails had a dramatic effect on his final bill.
"Instead of being $40, I think it was closer to $250," Webb said. "The smallest of increments, basically, is where it will jump up and it will charge you like $25 per so much data, and it's just such a small amount."
Benjamin Linder with AT&T suggests doing your research and spend time on your carrier's website. Find out what plans are available for international travel. Once you have a better idea about the available plans, determine how much data you think you'll need and then be disciplined about your usage.
"Take a look at the wireless travel tips, take a look at the different package options that we offer, and then really figure out what you're going to be utilizing when you are traveling abroad," Linder said.
Here are a few other tips to save on data while you travel:
- Turn your phone off.
- Turn off your data roaming by putting your phone in airplane mode.
- Change mail settings to "fetch" rather than "push" email to your inbox.
- Disable automatic downloads and app updates.
- Use Wi-Fi at your hotel to share photos and check email.