When I traveled to Paris for five weeks several years ago, we paid out the nose for an international add-on to our cell phone family plan, and we really didn’t get many minutes or data time for it. I know that before that, we never even had cell phones when traveling internationally, but frankly, the thought of not being connected — both to those I’m traveling with, as well as people back home — freaks me out.

Thank goodness it’s now cheaper to add a travel option on to your existing cell phone service. I use Verizon, which has several options for travel. 

The Travel Plan

If you know you’re going to use your phone just a little (maybe just for emergencies), Verizon’s Travel Plan could be a good fit. You can either only pay when you use it ($1.79 a minute for calls; $.50 per text; $2.05 per MB data) or get a package if you’ll be gone for several weeks or months. The smallest International Travel Data Plan offers 100 MB for $25 per month, and you still pay the add-on prices for talk and text.

The Travel Pass

At first glance, I was ready to go with the Travel Plan option for $25 for my month in Italy. But when I called Verizon, I found that they also have a Travel Pass, which ended up being a better option for me. With it, you pay $10 a day in most countries (though just $2 a day in Mexico and Canada) to get your full phone service. So if you normally have unlimited talk and text, and lots of data, that’s what you’ll get with the plan. You only pay for the days when you turn your phone off of airplane mode.

This is a great option if you don’t plan to use your phone but a few days, like I did in Italy. In fact, I didn’t even have service available much of the time I was in the Dolomites, so I couldn’t even use it as much as I wanted. I ended up paying just $20 for the service, since much of the time I was able to connect to wifi to call my son on Google Hangouts or check email.

There you have it. Affordable options to stay connected while traveling abroad. And if you don’t use Verizon, you likely have similar options with your carrier. Just ask.