Q. My wife and I will be traveling abroad for the next month and a half, and plan on using our cellphones to keep in contact with friends and family back home. Our carrier is AT&T, and though they've suggested we sign up for their 'Global Package' rate plan during this time, we're still concerned about charges for data, checking email, going online, using certain iPhone apps, and so on. We've heard horror stories. Should we wait and invest in a local phone when we arrive?

A. You're right to be cautious! Roaming charges for data usage on smartphones/iPhones can be sky high! If you're a talker and happen to be traveling for an extended amount of time, your phone bill could easily surpass the cost of your vacation...heck, maybe even your college tuition. Whatever plan you have, we'd make sure your Data Roaming is switched off to avoid those insane charges. Avoid checking/sending mail, using web apps, etc until you have access to WiFi. As for calls, some countries will have better rates than others. You check with AT&T regarding roaming rates, but we imagine the Global Package will only shave off a few cents.

If you plan on taking along your computer, we suggest you limit your calls home to Skype! Or buy a basic, inexpensive phone before leaving home and purchase a prepaid SIM card in the country you are traveling.

Anyone else have tips to avoid high roaming charges? We'd love to hear it. Comment below.

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