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Roamin' holiday: Avoid post-vacation cellphone shock

The last time I travelled to the United States I had bridal on the brain, so before hopping on the plane I forgot to take care of a few personal things. The most costly would prove to be forgetting to call my cell-phone provider to tell her that: a) my best friend was getting married and; b) she was doing it in Denver.

I didn't make that call to work out a better plan, but I did manage to make many other calls on the road as wedding emergencies came up, and I definitely paid for it. This week I'm back in the U.S. for work, and I wanted to be more prepared - so I asked a few of my globetrotting friends for their tactics when travelling.

The first option is do nothing and risk a ridiculously high cell-phone bill.

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The second is to call your carrier to work out a travel add-on bundle and continue using your phone as you normally would. The add-on fee is typically about $20 for the U.S. Without it you could be adding hundreds of dollars to your phone bill.

If you're not up for doing the legwork yourself, and you're a frequent traveller, it's worth checking out a company such as Save Cell Communications. Save Cell will review your previous monthly statements to get an idea of your travel habits and call your provider to negotiate a better plan on your behalf.

Just be sure you fully understand the terms of the plan to avoid paying unexpected roaming fees, like the woman featured recently on CBC's Market Place as having Canada's worst cell-phone bill.

If you're bringing your laptop and will have Internet access, it's smart to use Google Phone for local and long-distance calls between the U.S. and Canada for free. Or you can add Skype to your BlackBerry or iPhone.

But the consensus on the easiest option if you're travelling for pleasure: Turn off your phone and actually take a vacation.

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About the Author
Angela Self

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies, a group of five women who specialize in personal finance. They are hosts of a self-titled show on the W Network and the authors of The Smart Cookies' Guide to Making More Dough. More

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