Don't be a data dummy when you travel overseas

Don't be a data dummy when you travel overseas

Talk is cheap. Unless you travel internationally.

Then your wireless phone bill can be expensive — very expensive. At least that's the conclusion of a new survey by communications company Telestial. It found that 82% of international travelers worry about the cost of data when they're overseas.

And with good reason. Oddly, only half say they've bought a SIM card for their phones, which might help them save money. Instead, they power down their devices or use them less, fearful of a huge phone bill, according to Dan Rasmus, the principal analyst at Serious Insights, which conducted the study.

"Americans," he adds, "just don't get international data."

The days of hitting travelers with huge mobile phone bills may be coming to an end. T-Mobile stopped charging for data roaming on some of its plans back in 2013. Last year, the European Parliament voted to end data-roaming charges within Europe by this December. And Google just introduced a wireless service called Project Fi, with no roaming charges in more than 120 countries.

But are travelers ready? Perhaps, but they face a few obstacles, including their own wireless carriers, general confusion about technology and a fast-changing industry.

Consider what happened to Sery Kim before she left for a recent trip to Paris. She contacted Sprint, her wireless carrier, to make sure she had the right plan. She took every precaution to make sure she wasn't being assessed any additional fees, using texting and making calls only when absolutely necessary and switching to a Wi-Fi hotspot at her hotel.