Globetrotting is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. There’s nothing quite like travel. It broadens your horizons, brings new experiences, and helps you to understand people across the planet far better than you can at home. However, travel can also come with some tricky situations to navigate, particularly when it comes to your phone.
Fees and Funds
One of the most common sources of confusion and stress for international travelers: cell service. Without the right planning, you can end up getting charged with huge roaming fees. No matter which provider you use, you’ll need to check and see what kind of service you get overseas and prepare yourself to navigate around that service. However, with good planning, you can make sure your phone functions the way you need it to, no matter where you go.
Talk to Your Cell Provider
Your first step: reach out to your service provider. Some phone plans have built-in travel allowances, depending on where you’re going. Moreover, Fodors points out that depending on your phone, you may actually need a different SIM card to get things working overseas.
You can also talk to your provider about prepaid travel plans. These kinds of plans expand your phone’s service area, allowing you to access the network across the globe. They usually involve a small fee, which is based on the location you’re traveling to and how long you need to use the service.
Whether you expand your service or not, it’s a good idea to rely on Wi-Fi while traveling as much as possible. The reason for this is simple; most hotels throughout the world offer Wi-Fi. Moreover, you can often get Wi-Fi in cafes, restaurants, and other public spaces. This means that even if you inadvertently end up somewhere your cell service won’t reach, you’ll still have ways to use your phone.
Look into Wi-Fi enabled messaging services such as WhatsApp or GroupMe, and have everyone in your group download the same one. This way you can reach your travel companions any time you have internet access. Some of these services also offer voice and video calling in addition to text, which can be a lifesaver if you end up stuck somewhere without a signal.
Be sure to keep security in mind on your travels. As Rick Steves’ Europe explains, tourists are particularly susceptible to pickpocketing and other forms of robbery. You can get ahead of this issue in several ways.
For starters, make sure your phone is kept in a secure location. Wallets stored beneath your clothes or in zipped pockets deep within an over-the-shoulder bag are much harder to snag than those simply kept in your back pocket.
In addition, put extra locking measures on your phone, just in case. You should temporarily turn off measures such as fingerprint or face ID unlock, as these, though generally reliable, do decrease your phone’s security. A good password (no “1-1-1-1-1-1”s) will ensure that, should someone snag your phone, they won’t be able to get at the info inside.
Consider An International Phone
If you’re looking for a simple solution, you can consider picking up an international phone. These phones work anywhere in the world, making them an ideal choice for travelers. particularly those who are going on long trips with many stops. You can also simply purchase an
inexpensive phone at your destination (you can often find them in the airport) and get a prepaid phone card to load onto it.
These can be really cost-effective options if you don’t plan to do a lot of calling or texting while you’re overseas. It’s also a good call for those traveling to more rural areas, which may not have easy Wi-Fi access. However, keep in mind that the quality of the phones available may be a limiting factor.
Having reliable phone access is a game-changer when you’re traveling. It allows you to get in touch with loved ones back home, contact your companions, and navigate an unfamiliar space safely and effectively. Make sure you have a plan in place before you head out. Once your communication plans are set, you’re ready to hop on the plane—your adventure awaits!
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