I ALWAYS turn my iPhone’s airplane functionality on before taking off for an international destination and don’t turn it off until returning home. Failing to do so means connecting to a foreign wireless carrier when I land and paying AT&T roaming charges for all of those text messages, voicemails and emails people sent/left while I was up in the air.
We can’t control the things folks send us while traveling, and we sure as hell can’t control the amount of data that content uses. But we can control the manner in which we access that data. By keeping your phone in airplane mode but your wifi functionality on, you can utilize connections at airports, hotels, coffee shops and restaurants without getting hit with roaming charges. This enables you to receive those emails and text messages (using iChat or a third-party texting service) without those exorbitant fees showing up on your next cellular bill.
International data is expensive, very expensive. On a trip to Mexico City, AT&T billed me $50 for using Instagram over the course of a weekend because every image that loads ranges from 100-250 kilobytes. Four images at 250kb each is 1MB total. The going rate of international data is $2-10 per MB depending on the country you’re in and your provider. So if you do some very basic arithmetic, you’ll quickly arrive at the conclusion that scrolling IG for 20 minutes could cost you a very fucking nice dinner.While you can sometimes retroactively purchase an international data plan, it’s not worth the hassle of getting stuck with a hefty bill. It’s better to just take this advice and utilize it.