How I Saved on Cell Phone Charges While Vacationing in Jamaica

Communicating while in jamaica

Good Bye to local phones, Hello unlimited Data Roam

I was in disbelief. My first phone bill after my vacation was $850USD; including roaming and all sorts of charges. So, I vowed to never let that happen again. Since then, all my trips to Jamaica involve my getting a second phone with a local SIM card. I always ensured to add credit to my phone using Digicel online top up before I got to Jamaica. In this way, I can alert the folks picking me up that my flight just landed.

But that was three long years ago. And how have things changed? Now, I don’t need a second phone nor SIM card. I simply tell T-Mobile, my US-based cell-phone-company, that I’m traveling and purchase a 1-month-unlimited data roaming plan for $10 USD.

Check with Your Phone Carrier Before You Go

Some carriers have international roaming included in your regular plan. You should call them to find out before your next trip. To enable roaming before you fly simply, go to “settings” on your phone and check “allow data roaming.” This way, all your emails and data communication, except voice, will be free when in Jamaica.

If you chose to make a regular phone call or send a text, you will be charged the normal rate as if you were in your home country.

For those who use WhatsApp (everyone should), it’s an additional blessing as you can stay in touch with everyone as if you had not left your home country at all.


Make use of WIFI

The great news is… as soon as you can find WiFi service (perhaps at your hotel or family home), you can make normal phone calls and send text messages back to your home country again at no extra charge. Make sure to switch to WiFi calls on your phone. Again, go to “settings”, “connections”, and choose “WiFi call preferred”. If you’re forgetful then you should just only activate “WiFi calls only” in the settings menu. This way, you don’t make calls when you are out of WiFi range, thus incurring international charges.

All this might sound complicated, but I assure you, it’s easy once you do it for the first time. If you can’t, just ask any of your younger relative to help. But then again, if you are in my age group. I mean the group that remembers when Eric Donaldson won festival, then maybe you should just ask a family member for help.

Yes, free data roaming has revolutionized how travelers can communicate while in Jamaica. No need for extra phones, SIM cards and topping up your phone. Just use your own phone to stay in touch without the exorbitant bill after your trip.

wifi calling

In fact, this revolution is about to become bigger. GPS Navigation. Just a year ago my customers were paying $9USD/day to rent our local (JMNAV) road navigation system. Welcome to Google Maps. I used it last week and it is way better than what we are renting to customers. All I did was text or talk the location where I want to go, in Google Maps and press “Enter”. Just like the same Google Maps that you use in the USA, the rest of the world, it worked perfectly for Jamaica. And even better, as most times you get real-time traffic update, rerouting you when there is heavy traffic. And if you need to catch an early flight out of Kingston it can really help with the early morning rush traffic.

Yes. A lot of technological advances have occurred in three years. As long as these help me save money and provide more convenience, I say keep them coming.

Do you have any tips we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below.


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