International Roaming travelling tips

If you're planning to travel overseas with your smartphone, tablet or other mobile broadband device, you need to do more than just pack a power point convertor for the charger.

International Roaming charges you for data use differently from when you're at home. If you're not careful, it's easy to send your bill skyrocketing. It's important to understand how it works to avoid bill shock.

For a more detailed version of these travel tips, check out our International Roaming pocket guide (PDF, 433kB)

  • Travelling tips
  • 'How to' videos and useful links

Travelling tips

Here are 10 essential tips for using your mobile or mobile broadband service while travelling.

Before you travel

1. Activate International Roaming

If you've never used International Roaming on your monthly plan for mobile or mobile broadband before, you'll need to activate it. Requests are generally processed within 24 hours.

You can use the Telstra 24x7® App to check whether International Roaming is already active on your service.

To remove International Roaming call +61 439125109 from overseas or 125 109 in Australia1.

2. Check the countries you can roam in and the rates that apply

Use our Itinerary Builder to check whether your phone can be used in the countries you'll be visiting. You can also use the Itinerary Builder to check the voice and data rates that will apply.

If you have an iPhone and are planning on buying a local SIM once you're overseas make sure you unlock your iPhone before you leave. 

3. Buy a data pack

If you're going to use data while roaming overseas, it’s best to buy a data pack -  it works out to be much better value than the standard Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) rates.

Users on a monthly plan can buy an International Casual Traveller Data Pack.

Pre-Paid users can buy an International Roaming Browse Plus Pack.

When you're travelling, we'll send you SMS alerts about your data usage. Please take the time to read alerts as you receive them. They will help you manage your spending.

4. Check call diversions and remove call barring settings

Does your office number divert to your mobile? Does your mobile divert to your MessageBank? These will be charged at international roaming rates, so set them accordingly. Also, as per your user manual, make sure call barring is removed for all incoming calls, outgoing international calls, and outgoing calls (except to Australia) when roaming overseas.

5. Tell your friends and family how best to contact you while you’re away

Remember that you'll be charged both for receiving calls as well as making calls while you're roaming. We'd suggest the best way for you to stay in touch is by SMS: it's only 75 cents from any country.

While you're travelling

6. Check International Roaming is active

When you connect to an overseas network, we'll send you Welcome SMS messages from Telstra with helpful information .

7. Switch off data roaming when not using data

This prevents email and apps from continuing to run in the background. It's best to keep data roaming switched off any time you’re not using data. Better yet, conserve your data allowance by finding a free Wi-Fi connection for all of your data-intensive applications. See our videos on the next tab for more

8. Manage your emails and notifications

If you choose to turn on data roaming, your phone will continue to check for emails and receive software updates and automatic notifications - all of which will incur a data charge. Go to your phone's settings and switch off the automatic updates on those programs to save on costs. See our videos on the next tab for more

9. Pre-plan your downloads and app use

A single video download could be all it takes to wipe out the entire allowance on your Data Pack. After that happens, you’re automatically switched over to be charged at PAYG rates, which could be very expensive. Plan your big data use around free Wi-Fi hotspots (such as hotels, cafes etc). Maps, videos, music and images typically need the most data, and should be reserved for these opportunities.

10. Convert phone numbers to the international format

Calling home? Then you need to use the international version of the phone number. Start by entering the international country code (Australia is +61), followed by the number, without the first digit '0'.

Things you need to know

1 Calls made within Australia to 12 5109 or from overseas to +61 439 12 5109 are free of charge from a Telstra mobile service. International call charges apply to calls made from a non-Telstra service.

2 These videos are located outside of Telstra's unmetered sites. Viewing the videos may count towards your download limit, or you may incur data usage charges.

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