First trip to Mexico with iPhone

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by EmptyG, Jul 3, 2012.

  1. EmptyG macrumors regular

    Feb 16, 2007
    We are taking our first trip to Mexico (Puerto Vallarta) later this month and we are bringing along our iPhones. I've never taken the iPhone out of the country, and am seeing all kinds of horror stories about charges, roaming, etc. The resort we are going to does have WiFi and a cool app - Connectivity App - that looks like it will be really helpful.

    Can anyone point me at some tips or provide some here, if you have any experience? Like I said, I am only there for 4 days. Should I get a different plan via AT&T (my carrier) for the trip? I have unlimited data and messaging (grandfathered in).

    Thanks for any help!
  2. Siggen macrumors 6502

    Apr 1, 2011
    Oslo, Norway
    If you had a Norwegian contract, it would be simple, just turn off your data roaming, and use your phone mostly for necessities. Think about it, before you send that text.

    I took my iPad to Turkey, and I just turned of roaming, and on Wi-Fi, installed a hack so google maps didn't delete my cache, and looked at the map from Wi-Fi and panned around a bit, so I had a map everywhere. My mother took it in the purse, so and I tried to hide it a bit. I have a ZAGG Leather skin, so its not so obviously iPad. Same with my phone I turned of Data roaming, and a few text went to and forth, to the girlfriend in norway, and my family that I went to Turkey with :p
  3. chiefpavvy macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2008
    Depends on how much you will be using your device. 4 days, I would probably turn off data roaming and limit cellular to absolute necessity calls/texts. If your device is unlocked, Telcel has SIMs, much cheaper if you'll be making use (esp heavy use) of your device while on travel. Pop in a local SIM and go with it...
  4. libertysat macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2010
    Long story short, my college age niece went to Mx for 2 weeks last year on spring break
    Turned out the billing cycle fell mid way thru the vacation

    She sent a few hundred texts while there

    First phone bill was for over $800
    Next month was almost $700
    Just for the texts

    My sister refused to cover the bill and niece had to get a part time job, after a world class tantrum.....
  5. Kurwenal macrumors 6502a


    Jun 27, 2012
    You need to consider voice, data and text -- or don't use them and just stick with WiFi.

    For voice, AT&T has a Mexico add-on to your plan that costs $5.

    For data, you select and prepay for a tier depending on how much data you think you will use. It aint cheap, so you really will want to see if your resort has ubiquitous, cheap WiFi.

    For texts, AT&T offers various "Global Messaging" plans at various tier levels. You pre-select and pay before you go. Or, use the various WiFi options.

    Call AT&T and they will explain your options -- DO NOT just show up in Mexico and start using voice, data and text.


    ETA: here is the page you want.
  6. lordofthereef macrumors G5


    Nov 29, 2011
    Boston, MA
    OP, if I am understanding correctly you are considering using JUST wifi, right? If so, that is easy.

    1. Airplane mode
    2. Turn Wifi Back on
    3. Enjoy

    Note that if you have a GSM phone you can also always just remove the SIM.

    I would sign up with google voice and give your friends/family that number. I think Google voice is limited to the states right now in terms of signing up, but I am pretty sure if you have signed up it will work wherever you have data. In other words, sign up while still stateside just to be cautious. This way while you are on wifi texts will be free. iMessage is also free, but you are limited to other iOS5+ users. For voice you can get skype. You can either put minutes onto your skype account (which would be pretty darn cheap) or you can just have people call you if they want to talk.
  7. nw9 macrumors regular

    May 1, 2012
    To add and expand to what's already been said, you can either get a temporarily one month international plan from your cell carrier or try and buy an affordable prepaid SIM card in the other country. The benefit of getting a temporary international plan is that I believe you can still use your phone number so you don't have to give everyone your new number with the new SIM card bought in Mexico. The international plan usually cost more though, but a lot less than if you didn't have one.

    As mentioned by others, WiFi is another option if you don't want to spend the extra money. You should tell everyone you might call or text that you can only be reached by methods used by the internet like email, etc. Call the hotel to make sure they have free WiFi, but most do nowadays.

    Getting a temporary international plan from carrier would be the most convenient. Your phone carrier may let you cancel before the month is up so that you'll only be charged for the 4 days. It should be fairly afford if they let you do that, but each phone carrier is different so it's best to call yours and see what they offer.

    Kurwenal is right though. You don't want to just show up in Mexico without figuring what option works best for you first.
  8. EmptyG thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 16, 2007
    Wow thanks for all the helpful responses! The resort we are staying at has free Wifi and an app that allows you to use their Wifi to make calls. Pretty cool:

    I also do have Google Voice and Skype as well (hooked up to my Google Voice number). If I use iMessage for my texts (almost everyone I know / text has iOS 5 by this point) and either of the above options, then I should be covered. I do plan on turning cellular off as well.

    Thanks again everyone! I think I am going to call AT&T and add a temp service for the time as well. Rather have that then get that crazy bill when I get home - thanks for scaring me libertysat! :)
  9. Vikz macrumors regular


    Nov 13, 2007
    San Juan, Puerto Rico
    Went to mexico last year for a whole month; Just turn off data in your iphone and use the hotel wifi provided, mexican hotel wifi's are really good especially for skype calls.

    Remember if you use only wifi you can imessage all your contacts as long as you are in range of the signal without getting any international charges on your text plan.
  10. BiggAW macrumors 68030

    Jun 19, 2010
    Even though that's a total rip-off/scam as we all know, how could someone be that dumb? The rates are clearly published on the carrier's website. If that was just texts, that's about 3,000, as they are $.50/ea to send on either AT&T or Verizon. They also should have applied an international messaging feature before, and then retroactively, however, so they're pretty dumb on multiple levels.

    To the OP: Data is incredibly useful when traveling. Even though it's a total rip-off, get the international data plan of $30/120MB. It just rolls over at the same rate, so as long as you don't use voice/text (use GV for texts and voice).


    There's nothing to be scared of. You know how bad they are going to rip you off for each service you use, plan accordingly.
  11. kores macrumors newbie

    Jul 7, 2012
    didnt know thanks a lot =) international charges - its serious! =)
  12. Jane333 macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2012
    Michigan USA
    I went to Nuevo Vallerta last year and got the international plan from ATT. They prorate the plan so you can ask to have it start the day you leave and stop the day you get back. I believe I had to get both the international calling plan and also some special data plan (when out of the country, the text messages you receive are free, but 25 cents a message to send - same concept with the data - I also have the unlimited plan). The whole thing only cost me about $10 for the week. If you do use the data, you have to monitor the usage so you don't go over, but there is a setting which makes it easy to do so. Our resort had wi-fi and I was with my family the whole time, so I really did not end up needing the plan, but it was nice to have, especially since it did not cost that much.

    Have fun! Puerto Vallerta is a lot of fun - go ziplining!!!
  13. BiggAW macrumors 68030

    Jun 19, 2010
    The new plan is not proratable. 30 day minimum. But it's cheaper, at $30/ 120MB, so it might be a little more or a little less depending on how long you're gone, but it's not as horrible as data prices used to be.
  14. EmptyG thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 16, 2007
    So the plans I went with...

    Voice $4.99 - prorated for a week
    Text $50.00 - prorated for a week
    Data $30.00 - not prorated

    So it will be about $45 as a "just in case" kind of option. I still plan on using WiFi only as much as possible, but it's nice to have a safety net. $45 rather than a surprise $500 bill when I get back is worth it :)

    Thanks again to everyone who posted! Very helpful and appreciated ::D
  15. BiggAW macrumors 68030

    Jun 19, 2010
    Why not just use GV for text? Incoming is free, and you can just respond through GV.
  16. Dunbar macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    I agree, but it only works if you can "train" everybody that texts you to text your (separate) GV phone number. If you're facing exorbitant intl roaming charges it may not be feasible depending on the number of texts you receive.

    To the OP, reset your data counter in the settings menu when you land in Mexico so you can monitor exactly how much mobile data you're using.
  17. BiggAW macrumors 68030

    Jun 19, 2010
    Incoming is free on AT&T, and only 5 cents on Verizon, so you just need the discipline to text back using GV when someone texts through the carrier. If some conversations end up not switching back immediately when you get back to the states, who cares, GV works there too.


    Also, for monitoring data usage, use an app like Data Usage, I use it a lot for monitoring my 2GB plan, it would be great for international travel, although I think you'd screw it up on the domestic plan for that month. It probably wouldn't matter since you wouldn't be using a lot of your domestic that month though.

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