A Traveler’s Guide to Using a Smartphone Abroad

It is exciting to travel to another country and explore other cultures. In order to fully enjoy the experience and prevent inconveniences, it’s best to make all the necessary preparations ahead of time.

For instance, you have to get or update your passport and secure a visa (when necessary). Make sure to download guidebooks and important apps to make navigating your destination much easier. And most importantly, you need to determine which cell phone plan will allow you to stay connected with your loved ones and friends (no matter where they are) and browse the Internet once you leave your home country.

Here is a guide to help you choose the best way to communicate through smartphone on your next overseas trip, as well as some helpful money-saving tips.

3 Options to Stay Connected While On the Go

1. Upgrade your current smartphone plan

If you have an existing smartphone plan, check the options provided by your carrier. You may be able to choose from different packages that will allow you to send text messages, make calls, and access data while you are in another country. There are plans that are offered on a daily basis that you can easily set up before leaving your home country.

Remember that each option differs – some may work only with specific phone models and areas, so be sure to choose one that works best in your intended destination.

If, for instance, you are going to visit Saudi Arabia, a Zain roaming package can be your best option. It allows you to enjoy affordable roaming rates when receiving or making calls, sending text messages, and surfing the Internet on your line. Also, you can pick from among different data and voice bundles so you can have data connections wherever you are.

Upgrading your current phone plan is a great move if you want to use your phone whenever you travel abroad. You do not have to switch carriers or buy a new phone each time if your carrier offers superb international smartphone plans. Also, your phone number will remain the same – this means that you don’t have to transfer all the names and contact numbers from your current phone to another device. And more importantly, people can still easily reach you.

2. Buy or rent an international cell phone

If an international phone plan is not an option, you can either buy or rent a local phone in your country of destination. Often, this phone will already have a domestic plan included. A local plan means translates to cheap domestic rates.

Buying a local cell phone is a great idea if you plan to spend much of your time in a single international location. But if you will only be staying for a few days before moving on to another place, then renting is a better option.

Remember to purchase or rent a smartphone only from a reputable local phone store. Never buy from people on the street. And if you don’t understand anything on the contract because it is written in their local language, don’t sign it unless it is translated into a language you fully understand.

3. Buy a SIM card (local or international)

Another option that is quite similar to purchasing a local phone is buying a local or international SIM card. All you have to do is to replace your current SIM card, and voila – your phone now becomes a local model.

Remember that you can only use a different SIM card if your phone is unlocked. So make sure to unlock your phone first before leaving your home country.

Local SIM cards can be purchased from grocery stores or gadget retail stores in your destination country. This is your best option if you are going to stay in one country, but if you are visiting different nations, it would be best for you to invest in an international SIM card. This comes with pre-programmed numbers, and you can easily add more regional numbers if you want to, depending on your travel itinerary.

Money-saving Tips

Despite having an international mobile plan or a SIM card with data allowance and call minutes, it is still crucial for you to implement ways to limit your usage.

You do not want to come home from an overseas trip and discover that you have to pay a hefty phone bill; neither would you look forward to frequently searching for a recharging station in your destination country because all your data allowance and allowable call minutes have already been consumed.

Here are some tips to keep the costs of cellular service to a minimum:

Use Wi-Fi when available

If you need to browse the Internet or check your social media accounts, check if there is an available Wi-Fi hotspot first before turning your mobile data on. Take advantage of these free internet connections. Beware, though, because using public Wi-Fi can expose all your data to hackers.

It’s a good thing there are applications like the Kaspersky app that can protect you from viruses and hacking. Make sure to have such helpful apps installed in your phone.

Take advantage of messaging apps

Today, there are plenty of apps like Facebook Messenger, Skype, and WhatsApp that allow you to communicate easily with your loved ones. Instead of sending them text messages or making overseas calls, you can just use these apps to connect with them. All you need is a reliable Internet connection through public Wi-Fi hotspots or your hotel’s password-protected Internet access.

Staying connected while you are traveling has never been easier. There are many affordable options that you can choose from today. Just make sure to choose one that suits your travel needs, and always research and implement ways to keep the costs to a minimum.  

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