After hours on the phone with AT&T discussing costs overseas and getting complicated answers…. I moved on to the web to find clearer instructions. The goal was to be able to get emails overseas by turning on and off the roaming function a few times a day to glance at important emails.
As hard as AT&T operators tried, their answers seemed vague and mega bites are hard to quantify for the non engineering brain. How many megabites in our plan cover how many emails? It turns out that five lines of text is really really small in byte language.
Checking on-line, I quickly found that, in most countries, there is plenty of free wifi. McDonalds, Starbucks,Pret a Manger and others offer it with a password stamped on your receipt. (Many natural food restaurants also as they cater to younger people.) I found that in one airport I frequent often, the password at Starbucks never changes over time. But you do have to re-imput it. Basically look for young people with noses in their phone: that establishment has free wifi.
In London there is one company that services many public places, so that once connected, you use it in multiple locations. Ask a server or another patron in hot spots for help; it is easy to identify them: THEY ARE LOOKING AT THEIR PHONES, duh.
Hunt for free wifi locations and for information before you leave. Sites will explain the steps to get in as instructions will be in foreign languages. Even Indian English will be confusing to US and Canadian readers. You might need to actually use a pen and paper to write the steps down as unhip as this sounds.
If or when you get desperate, you can always hang near the door of the local Apple store- ps enjoy some air conditioning at the same time.
So turn the roaming off on your phone, or safer than that, bring along an old phone no longer connected to a phone company. You can still get wifi on it.
Still worried about excessive phone charges: use the instant chat function to your carrier for clear written information on how to avoid these. Copy and paste the whole conversation before you exit for proof of what you were told to do..
And remember to put an automatic answer on your voice mail and email that you are away and only emergencies and highly discounted retail sales will be responded to.