MISSION, KS--(Marketwired - Dec 5, 2013) - (Family Features) Whether your international travel is for business or pleasure, chances are you'd like to remain connected. Your wireless phone or tablet is a likely solution, but not all wireless services are created equal.

When U.S. customers use their phones abroad the way they normally do at home, their costs can total $1,000 a day or more. According to a study by T-Mobile, more than 40 percent of customers turn off data roaming completely to avoid those fees, and another 20 percent say they would if they knew how.

"Wireless customers face a hard choice -- use their phone when they need it and pay the price, or cut off communications to contain costs," said Desmond Smith, senior product manager at T-Mobile. "In reality, with a little pre-planning, customers can find the right carrier and service plan that meets their travel needs, significantly reducing, or even eliminating, travel-related wireless charges."

Before you pack your bags and begin your travel adventure, spend some time researching the best wireless company, device and data plan to fit your needs and check that you have the right accessories too, including an international power converter.

Choosing a Carrier
With so many wireless service providers available, it's difficult to know which one to choose. Especially if you will be traveling internationally, choosing the right data plan is not only about ensuring you have freedom and peace of mind (so you don't come home to bill shock) -- it's also about making sure you choose a phone company that focuses on customer service and provides flexibility and choice.

  • Ditch the burdensome contract - Several providers offer no-contract wireless service that gives you freedom and flexibility without being locked into a service agreement for a year or more.
  • Make the world your network - Look for carriers, such as T-Mobile, that provide unlimited data and texting worldwide, freeing you from worrying about coming home to bill shock from outrageous roaming fees.
  • Don't break the bank - Some providers offer programs to help manage the out-of-pocket costs associated with purchasing new devices.
  • Device upgrades - If you're accident prone, likely to break or lose devices while circling the globe or just like to upgrade your phone frequently, look for protection and upgrade options such as T-Mobile's JUMP! program. For $10 per month, you can protect your device and have the option to upgrade twice per year to the latest phone.
  • Explore the extras - Prepaid international calling cards may also be available through your wireless provider. If your travels keep you in the States but your wireless needs take you beyond, some carriers offer plans that allow you to talk with friends, family or business associates across the globe.

The Right Device
Shopping for a smartphone or tablet doesn't have to be stressful or complicated. Selecting the right device is simply a matter of asking the right questions and talking to the experts. A sales associate can help you select a phone that will best meet your needs.

Several new options are now available, and one in high demand is Google Nexus 5. When combined with a nationwide 4G LTE network, Google Nexus 5's stunning, lightweight design, speedy processor and LTE capabilities offer users the best experience for staying connected.

When making your purchase, consider:

  • Device compatibility abroad
  • Shape/size
  • Display
  • Keyboard size and form

These and additional tips for staying connected when traveling internationally can be found at www.T-Mobile.com.

Worry-free Wireless Travel Abroad
Follow a few tips from the experts at T-Mobile and help keep your travels on track and free of complications:

1. Pack the essentials, including portable chargers, an international power converter and MicroSD cards to give you added storage space for photos and more.

2. Get insured. If you don't already have one, now is the time to secure an insurance plan to protect yourself in case your device is damaged, lost or stolen.

3. Check your coverage before you travel, including network specifications and international data rates, and make adjustments if necessary to avoid costly surprises in your bill when you return.

4. Travel safe with features such as Bluetooth for hands-free driving while navigating the twists and turns of unfamiliar roads, or applications like T-Mobile's DriveSmart Plus, which silences incoming notifications, sending callers to voicemail and auto-responds to incoming text messages.

5. Pack light by bringing a multi-function smartphone that allows you to access entertainment with videos and games, mobile music player, GPS navigator, high quality digital camera, and in some cases, even a mobile hotspot.

Best Apps for Travel
Check out these leading apps to help you navigate a successful journey:

Unit Conversion Free, Currency (iOS, but others are available for most platforms): Converts temperature, distance, weight, volume, speed and more, including currency in real time

Where (iOS, Android, BlackBerry): Collects the location-specific information you can find in a number of other, more specialized apps into one uber-app -- making it easy to find a restaurant or other location nearby

Expedia (Android, iOS): Travel search, information and hotel/flight booking, with the opportunity to uncover mobile-exclusive discounts on last-minute hotel bookings

GateGuru (Android, iOS, Windows Phone): View your TripIt and Kayak itineraries, as well as view/post airport security wait times and see a structured list of airport food, shops and services

iStone (iOS): Translation app designed for international travelers without any great linguistic skills; records and translates into 12 languages and provides more than 300 useful phrases

Image It (iOS): Translates a picture into the actual word of the object with more than 450 pictograms in categories such as food, emergencies, accommodation and transport

Waze (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone): Navigational map system that is constantly updated in real time using drivers' GPS points with automatic alerts on traffic jams, fender-benders, detours and even police traps

SeatGuru (Android, iOS): Provides crucial in-flight information -- from seat pitch to the proximity to the toilet to the likeliness to be bumped

JetLag Genie (iOS): Helps reduce the effects of jet lag by providing customized action plans based on your flight info and personal sleep patterns

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Vickie Rocco