Want to save money connecting abroad? Forget traditional voice plans and opt for data-only

Anyone who travels internationally knows the fear of pulling out your phone in a foreign country. Things we do all the time in our home country add up to big spending as soon as you’re abroad, leaving you to evaluate every decision: How much will it cost to listen to my voice mail? What kind of roaming charges am I going to return to? Should I turn off my data roaming entirely?   Thankfully, an explosion of savvy 3rd party apps is making mobile data-only plans the most cost-effective and convenient solution for staying connected while traveling abroad. Messaging, sharing photos, emailing, mapping unfamiliar cities, and yes – even making calls can all be done over data-only apps.   GigSky, now a Concur App Center partner, can help you transition to data only plans during your international trips. With GigSky you can select from various data plans based on how much data you will need and for how long. To get started, you just need an unlocked device, a GigSky data SIM card and the GigSky app. If you have an Apple iPad with Apple SIM installed, you can simply select a GigSky data plan straight from your device to get connected. With the Concur integration, travelers get the benefits of GigSky’s worldwide data service combined with seamless expensing and reporting in Concur. After connecting your Concur account to GigSky, an e-receipt will automatically be sent to Concur for purchases. To help you get started, here’s a break down of some of the best apps available today.  

Voice Apps That Use Data-Only


Skype– Skype, has a devout following, being one of the first apps to provide free calling from one Skype user to another. Not only do they provide a great service, they offer very low rates to “Skype-out” to actual phone numbers. Screen sharing, group calls, and completely free text messaging are also available for team collaboration across the globe.        

Viber – Viber has a great assortment of fun communication tools for free messaging and voice calls anywhere in the world, all in one single platform. The feature set is comprised of messaging, photos, videos, voice notes and voice calling. It also includes entertaining emoticons and stickers to send to your more expressive contacts.

FaceTime – Exclusive to Apple users, FaceTime lets you voice and video call any other Apple aficionado across the globe. Since FaceTime comes pre-installed on all iOS and Apple products, it’s an easy adoption process for you and your Apple using colleagues. FaceTime is completely free and will likely remain that way as part of the Apple product purchase.


Messaging Apps That Use Data Only

WhatsApp – Simple to set up and syncs with your smartphone’s contact list.  This feature rich messaging app combines all the components of traditional text – messaging, photos, short videos and group chat – and sends to anyone, anywhere in the world. It’s free for the first year, and only costs 99 cents after that. The sleek user interface is completely ad-free, making it a great option for staying in touch without any of the fluff.
Telegram – If you’re a particularly security conscious traveler, this is the messaging app for you. Telegram provides fast messaging services, encrypted at the client-server level for extra security. The Secure Chat mode includes end-to-end encryption, so only you and your recipient can ever read the content.  Messages can also be set to self-destruct, leaving zero trace. To help with collaboration, files can be sent to individual colleagues or via chat in groups up to 200, all in a completely secure environment.
Facebook Messenger –If you’re keen on staying in touch via Facebook, Messenger is your best bet. Just download, and login with your Facebook credentials, and you’re up and running in no time. In addition to the typical messaging functions, Facebook offers funny memes and gifs, keeping a lighthearted feel just like the social network itself. You can also make calls and send money through the portal. This messaging app has it all.

Extra Precautions with Data Overseas

Even with data-only plans, you’ll want to use a few tricks to keep your mobile data costs in check: 1) Many apps run in the background (social networking notifications, e-mail, GPS, etc.) which can drain your battery and data plan. Push e-mail is a feature that ensures you receive messages as they enter your inbox, but it uses up data quickly. If you have an iPhone, adjust by accessing Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Fetch New Data to receive e-mail less frequently. You can also manually disable push notifications for each app on an iPhone; click on the app and turn the Notification Center to "Off." 2) A lot of applications use GPS to track your movements. Turning off GPS, and only using it when you need it, helps cut down on data usage. 3) Data monitoring applications provide users with stats on their usage, like how much data they use during the day and information about which applications are using the most data. They will also send alerts to notify you as you go over certain data thresholds. 

Data-Only Will Keep Down Costs, Period.

It may seem a leap from the norm, but surviving on data only is completely doable with a little prep work, and especially rewarding for business travelers. The cost savings can be significant, and it eliminates the hassles of managing voice, text, and data plans simultaneously. Download the GigSky app today and stay connected to your essential voice apps, messaging apps, must-have travel apps and favorite websites. Learn more about GigSky in the App Center and connect your Concur account.  

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