Two Minute Travel Tip: How To Use Your Phone While Traveling Abroad
We’ve all become very dependent on our phones. They’re our music players, our maps and our primary means of communicating. Smartphones become even more critical when you’re traveling abroad. It can translate languages for you, keep you from getting lost and serve as your boarding pass. Most of those features though require internet connectivity. How do you ensure your phone works abroad without paying huge fees? Keep reading to find out.
1. Only Use WiFi
The cheapest way to stay connected is to forgo cell connectivity entirely and only use public WiFi. Most cities have a ton of free hotspots, and you can jump from one to the other. There are even apps that will help you find public internet. Just be sure to turn cellular data off on your phone, so you won’t accidentally use your phone carriers data. This is the most cost-effective way but obviously not always the most convenient. You can’t guarantee the WiFi will be open and you might not have it when you really need it. In big cities like Paris and London, you might be able to make the sacrifice to save some money.
2. Use Your Phone Carriers International Plan
Almost all carriers have add-on international plans. Some are much better deals than others. They’re also always changing so this info may become out of date. Before you make a final decision, call your carrier and double check pricing.
T-Mobile and Sprint are the most cost-effective. In fact, their global roaming is free. It’s included in your standard monthly plan. If you're with them, you're set. AT&T offers free roaming to Mexico and Canada. Other countries will cost you 10$ per day, per phone. Verizon charges 2$ per day for Mexico and Canada and 10$ everywhere else. Before you hit the road though double check your carriers prices and eligible countries. Using your carrier's plan is very convenient. But if you have Verizon or AT&T, it can add up quickly. It would have cost Charise and me almost 300 dollars with AT&T when we went to Paris.
3. Purchase A Local SIM Card
Purchasing a local Sim card is a good compromise between price and convenience. Depending on the country and carrier, you can get unlimited data and texting for between 20 and 40 dollars. You can even have the SIM mailed to you before your flight so you can pop it in as soon as you land at your destination. The one caveat with this is that your phone has to be unlocked. Each carrier has different rules about this but usually, it requires your phone to be paid off and your bill to be in good standing. A quick call to your carrier will let you know if your phone is eligible to be unlocked for your trip. When we went to Europe, we used an Orange Holiday SIM. It was about 40 euros for each card. As soon as we landed, we switched out the new sim and off we went. It saved us about 120 dollars.
As dependent as we are now on our phones, I couldn’t imagine traveling without data. But depending on which carrier you have, it can be expensive. Hopefully, this article will save you some cash. Have you ever gone without cell data to a foreign country? Or would you never even consider it? Answer below in the comments.