It turns out roaming charges really can roam.

Maria Francis, a Sacramento woman, says she turned off her cell phone while on a cruise abroad and still got soaked with a $1,558.95 bill from Verizon.

"I was going to throw up," Francis told CBS in Sacramento, describing her reaction to the bill.

The surprise greeted Francis when she and her husband returned to American soil after the Mediterranean voyage. When she flicked on her phone, she received several texts from the mobile carrier warning her about severe roaming charges. Verizon employees had assured her before the trip that her phone wouldn't work, Francis explained. And she swears she had turned the phone off.

Francis isn't the first consumer to be greeted by bill shock upon returning home from vacation.

John Gibson of Weyburn, Sasketchewan, was hit with a mobile bill for more than $10,000 upon returning home from a family vacation to Arizona after his kids used his mobile broadband card to stream Netflix videos on his laptop.

As it turns out, Francis' bill nightmare didn't end up costing her much more than some frustration. Verizon withdrew the charge after CBS Sacramento's consumer reporter began investigating the story.

“I’ve learned a lot," she said to CBS. "I’ve learned never take your phone to Europe."

Frommers advises travelers to power off handheld devises to avoid international roaming fees. Of course, this wasn't a fool-proof line of defense in Francis' case, as the phone can accidentally turn on and begin incurring fees.

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  • Download Free Calling Applications

    All you need is a local wi-fi connection for the many downloadable applications on your computer and smartphone: <a href="https://login.skype.com/account/signup-form?application=download&return_url=http://www.skype.com/go/buy-credit?flow=join&intcmp=join" target="_hplink">Skype, </a> <a href="http://www.viber.com/" target="_hplink">Viber</a>, and <a href="http://www.whatsapp.com/" target="_hplink">WhatsApp</a> are just a few. photo by <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Skype_meeting_ayvak_%26_nancyajones_2008oct16.jpg" target="_hplink">Nancy Jones</a>

  • Don't Stream Music Or Movies

    The hefty charges incurred from streaming data via your wireless network when you're outside your data roaming zone can <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/06/john-gibson-netflix-canada-bill_n_1258190.html" target="_hplink">result in a post-vacation nightmare.</a> photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/brymo/" target="_hplink">Bryan Gosline</a>

  • Disable Cellular Auto-Check Function

    Turn off the function that makes your phone automatically update applications and receive emails. Wireless provider AT&T offers <a href="http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/en_US/pdf/Travel-Tips.pdf?source=ECV4IS0000000000U&wtExtndSource=wirelesstraveltips" target="_hplink">these instructions</a> on how to disable auto-check for different smartphone devices.

  • Turn On Airplane Mode

    Turning on this function will enable you to use the camera, video, games and music capabilities on your device without incurring charges from accidentally picking up network signals. (h/t <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/consumertips/8617180/Roaming-charges-save-money-phoning-home.html" target="_hplink">The Telegraph</a>)

  • Switch Off Data Roaming

    This will disable your device from streaming data when you're outside your zone, but will still allow voice calls. AT&T provides <a href="http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/en_US/pdf/Travel-Tips.pdf?source=ECV4IS0000000000U&wtExtndSource=wirelesstraveltips" target="_hplink">instructions</a> on how to turn off data roaming functionality on smartphones.

  • Obtain A Local Phone For Another Country

    Renting a local phone might be a cost-effective option if you're making an extended trip to another country. (h/t <em><a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304331204577351824213467562.html" target="_hplink">The Wall Street Journa</a>l</em>)

  • Buy A Wi-Fi USB

    A portable wireless adaptor will allow you to create your own wi-fi connection through your computer. (h/t <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304331204577351824213467562.html" target="_hplink"><em>The Wall Street Journal</em></a>) photo by <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Qurren" target="_hplink">Qurren</a>

  • Find An Affordable Abroad Plan

    Call your phone provider to find out different wireless package options. Some companies offer reduced rates if you change your plan before traveling. (h/t <em><a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304331204577351824213467562.html" target="_hplink">The Wall Street Journal</a></em>)

  • Get A SIM Card For Unlocked Phone

    If you can unlock your phone or buy an unlocked cell, replacing your removable SIM card to a local one will enable you to use the wireless network in another country. (h/t <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/the_middle_seat.html" target="_hplink">The Wall Street Journal</a>) photo by <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Iphonesimcard.JPG" target="_hplink">Luke2511</a>

  • Don't Make Outgoing Calls

    The price of incoming calls are frequently much less than the cost of outgoing. If that's the case with your plan, ask your friends and relatives to call you while you're travelling. (h/t <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304331204577351824213467562.html" target="_hplink"><em>The Wall Street Journal</em></a>)