Keep tech, phone costs under control when abroad

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Veteran road warriors know how expensive it can be to coordinate business communication from the road. Factor in social media expectations and travel costs can increase significantly. This is especially true for international travel.

Here are ways you can tackle tech and communication costs while remaining mobile.

Calls: T-Mobile recently added unlimited texting and data in more than 100 countries for qualified plans. Moreover, calling from those same international destinations costs only 20 cents per minute as opposed to traditionally out-of-reach industry prices.

A potential new service is Mobile United, which is scheduled to launch sometime late autumn. For an annual membership fee similar to those required for warehouse grocery and home goods stores, customers will be able to choose from a number of calling and data plans that have been negotiated with major mobile networks. Basic unlimited talk plans are listed for as low as $16.99 per month.

Comedian and actor Dan Nainan, author of "The Best Book on How to Become a Full-Time Stand-Up Comedian," prefers to keep things even cheaper when he's traveling. His favorite online resource is Google Voice, which allows him to chat with family, friends and business associates from a variety of locations.

Connectivity: Mr. Nainan's former career as an engineer for Intel required a great deal of travel and communications problem-solving. One of his favorite software picks is Hotspot Shield. For $30 a year, this VPN software provides additional security protection while using public Wi-Fi networks on the road. It also mimics an American IP address that makes it easier to operate in countries where accessing North American websites can be problematic. There's also a free version, although it does come with ads.

Contracts: Those who travel to and from a home base may not have issues with communications contracts that lock them in for a year or two. For true nomads, however, this setup limits their ability to fully enjoy their location-independent lifestyle.

Technomadia.com's Cherie Ve Ard and Chris Dunphy are a perfect example. This nomadic couple have operated a software business out of their tour-bus-turned-mobile-home for seven years.

They share their favored Internet and cell-phone signal boosting tricks in their book "The Mobile Internet Handbook." One of their favorite sites is the mobile Internet service called Millenicom. For roughly $70 a month, they receive nationwide coverage with no contract. They can use multiple devices on their mobile hotspot, which is easily disconnected if they want to take off on a temporary international adventure.



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