If you’re a global traveler from the US and need to check emails and have Internet access when you’re abroad, get a BlackBerry if you don’t already own one. I have been abroad and used local carriers (3, Telus, Telstra, Vodafone, etc.) for voice and data then found out my weekly bill was over US$100. The reason for the high fee is due to my data usage. Most international phone companies charge data by the kilobytes or megabytes of upload/download on your device.
The frugal way to get on the Internet and check emails is to leverage the BlackBerry network. If you have a BlackBerry plan from the US, your data service such as email, browsing and BlackBerry Messenger will be traveling on the BlackBerry network. International carriers will allow BlackBerry traffic to go through free of charge (they actually charge BlackBerry but you as the consumer don’t have to worry about it).
I recommend you buy a BlackBerry and join a BlackBerry data plan which is available for T-Mobile for around $40 a month with international roaming - $20 per month for US only (for the record, I am not compensated by T-Mobile or RIM for this post). If you already own a BlackBerry from Sprint, Verizon, etc., get your carrier to enable international BlackBerry service which is around $20 more per month. For the extra $20 a month, you’ll buy the piece of mind of having Internet and email without losing your pants. I have tried this approach in Canada, France, Hong Kong, and the UK, and did not see additional charges on my bill.