Data Roaming Explained & How To Turn It Off | MFS

In Digital Nomad Blog 0 comments

Stop Data Roaming Abroad: How To Turn It Off

Embracing the remote work lifestyle is exhilarating, but it comes with its challenges – and one of the most bewildering aspects is data roaming. Maybe you need data to keep your US number abroad, or maybe you just need to pull up Maps so you can find the nearest taco stand.

In this detailed guide we'll not only demystify data roaming but also provide you with some actionable advice to ensure you stay connected without breaking the bank. So here’s how to do data right when you’re abroad, and not get stuck with a surprise roaming bill.

1. What is Data Roaming?

Screenshot of data roaming on Android

What’s data roaming? Can I use my phone abroad? Will I have to take out a second mortgage for comfort-streaming The Office to get me through my hangover?

Cell providers love that these answers are unclear. Because that means you’re more likely to slip up and get charged for data roaming.

Data roaming is where you use mobile data outside your provider’s cellular coverage map. While you usually don’t get charged for this domestically, you may get charged for it internationally if you’re not careful.

2. How Much Does Data Roaming Cost?

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

Data roaming can cost more than roaming the world if you’re not careful; and the cost of data roaming? This can vary between carriers more than what you’re quoted for taxis abroad.

Different carriers offer different plans, and the price tags can make your head spin. But fear not; understanding the basics can save you from bill shock at the end of the month.

  • Pay-As-You-Go (good for a couple days): Hopping down to Mexico for the weekend? Some carriers allow you to tack on international data for a day or 2. Be careful, though – these charges take off faster than you can say "airport beers" if you're not careful.
  • International Packages (good for a couple weeks): Many mobile carriers offer specific roaming packages for travelers. These could include a set amount of data, calls, and texts at a flat rate for a specific duration.
  • Local SIM Cards: The ultimate remote work hack – grab a local SIM card upon arrival. This often proves to be the most cost-effective way to stay connected. Just make sure your phone is unlocked before taking this plunge.
  • Travel eSIM Cards: Picking up a travel eSIM strikes the balance between convenience and cost while you’re abroad. This is also one of the easiest ways to receive OTP messages while you’re abroad - perfect for banking.

3. How To Turn Off Data Roaming

Step-by-Step Guide to Turn Data Roaming Off on iPhone

Turning off data roaming on your iPhone is a breeze. Follow these steps to keep your pockets safe from unexpected charges:
  1. Go to Settings: Navigate to the "Settings" app on your iPhone.
  2. Select "Cellular": In the Settings menu, find and tap on "Cellular."
  3. Select the line you want to manage.
  4. Toggle Data Roaming Off: You'll see an option for "Data Roaming." Simply toggle it off, and voila – you're shielded from unexpected charges.

Step-by-Step Guide to Turn Off Data Roaming on Android

Android provides an equally straightforward process to tame data roaming. Here's your guide:
  1. Open Settings: Launch the "Settings" app on your Android device.
  2. Navigate to "Network & Internet": Depending on your device, find the "Network & Internet" or a similar option in the Settings menu.
  3. Toggle Data Roaming Off: Look for the "Mobile Network" or "Data Usage" section, and within that, you'll find the switch to turn off data roaming. Flip it, and you're free from the roaming data trap.


The bottom line? If you turn off data roaming while you’re abroad, you can connect to wifi and use your phone without fear of running up a big bill. So, roam on, and may the journey be as smooth as midnight street noodles in Bangkok.

Travel well! And if you want to travel better, check out our 2-in-1 laptop case that doubles as a stand below!


Tilt laptop case 10% off offer