If you’ve ever been shocked by data roaming charges, you know how important it is to avoid them when you’re traveling internationally. That is, unless you like to pay more for your cell phone bill than you did for your trip.
Some people like to be free from their electronics when they travel, but when you need to check email, access maps, geocache, or check out social media, you may want to hop on the Internet in spite of your vow to be gadget-free.
A new company is trying to help people avoid the shock of their data bills when traveling internationally. They recently introduced the Doodad, a prepaid SIM card that works in over 60 countries so you can access the Internet from your mobile device when you’re away from Wi-Fi.
How Doodad Works
Visit the Doodad website and sign up to get a Doodad card. The card is free, you pay $3 for shipping. Then you can purchase international Internet access for your card at the following rates:
The data you purchase works in the countries listed in the image above and expires after 365 days.
See, Mind the Cap! to learn about how much data you use on your mobile device.
Here’s a video showing you how to use a Doodad:
You can put a daily limit on your Doodad card so you don’t use up your data allowance too quickly (and to get you off of your mobile device and enjoying your vacation!).
Doodad notifies you when you have run out of data. Even after you’ve run out of data, you can still connect to Doodad to add more data to your SIM card.
What Else You Should Know
Doodad only includes data, not cell phone service.
In order to use a Doodad, your mobile device need to be unlocked. Many 3G and 4G iPads come unlocked but most phones in the US are sold locked to the carrier. You can request that your carrier unlock your phone. I requested AT&T unlock my phone and my helpful agent Cherise unlocked my phone instantly during our online chat.
Check for international data plans with your carrier. Compare prices, your carrier’s international plan might be a better deal for you than getting a Doodad.
You may be able to get a local SIM card in the country you’re visiting that includes both cell phone coverage and data. In some countries, you can only get a phone card though. Getting a Doodad means that you don’t have to hassle with sorting out your SIM card when you’re traveling.
My International Data Roaming Wake-Up Call
I learned the hard way not to use my mobile phone to roam internationally. When we lived in England, I took a trip with my family to Germany where my husband decided to watch the last 15 minutes of a Washington Redskins game on my smartphone connected to a Slingbox back in the US. We figured that it couldn’t cost a lot to watch 15 minutes of the game over the Internet.
Imagine our shock the next month when the cell phone bill arrived. The cost of watching the game? $1000. My carrier reduced the charge to $200 eventually, but it was still an important lesson.
Don’t use data roaming internationally without knowing the cost.
Adding insult to injury, the Redskins lost the game.
Later, I realized that my bill could have been much worse. Thank goodness my husband didn’t watch the entire game! See, Man gets $27,000 phone bill after watching Bears game on web
Have you ever had a shocking cell phone bill from international data roaming? Do you turn off your devices when you travel outside your home country? Have you tried a Doodad? Let us know in the Comments section below!
Carolyn is away on vacation trying to remain gadget-free as much as humanly possible for a polygadgetist. Wonder of Tech articles will continued to be published while she is away. Carolyn will respond to comments when she returns to her gadgets.