Phones and TVs in Your Hotel Room

If you want to put the kids on the phone to say hello to grandma from London (“Grandma we're in London and they don't have Pokemon on TV here” it is cute you gotta admit) find out what that precious memory is going to cost, for hotels abroad have figured out with their domestic cousins that they can get away with “surcharges” on in-room phone calls that would make an organized crime gang jealous.

You might save enough on the call by using the pay phone in the lobby for you to say hello too (“Grandma, um, Mom, we're in London and they don't have Pokemon on TV here and the kids are going nuts”).

You'll also need to know about international dialing codes when calling around overseas.

Pre-Paid Phone Cards

Ask at the hotel desk, or at an information kiosk in the airport, if prepaid phone cards are available and useable for international calls in the host country. In some parts of the world the international phone lines are controlled by a single giant telephone company, often times a government monopoly with no interest in helping you save money.

Sometimes entrepreneurs buy up hundreds of minutes of long distance time wholesale from the Monster Phone Company and then resell it in small bites to people like you, getting you cheaper phone calls while still making a buck for themselves on the slight extra-charge they get out of you. This can save you serious money, as well as being more convenient than feeding handfuls of coins into a pay phone.

Careful"€-sometimes the prepaid cards are only available in large denominations with no way for a refund if you don't use it all.

An added bonus is that with some prepaid cards in some countries, you can also access toll-free numbers (800-, 888-) in the U.S. Otherwise, it is almost impossible to access American toll free numbers from overseas. Since the pre-paid route is hit or miss, be prepared with alternate phone numbers for U.S. organizations (such as your insurance company, or your credit card company) you may need to get a hold of from overseas.

The TV

In some rooms it is ridiculously easy to press a few buttons on the remote and order up expensive and/or adult movies. Check, and if it is not possible to electronically lock-out the movies, be sure to place the remote control in an inaccessible place.

Be sure to also read our advice on packing for your hotel.

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