how to use your phone abroad

Tips for Using Your Cell Phone Internationally

We rely on our phones for so much that we cannot afford to leave these gadgets behind when going anywhere. However, travelling overseas raises a lot of questions, as the functionality of your phone will be limited. You may not be able to call and text as you usually do at home, and your phone bill can rack up quickly due to roaming charges.

The thing is that you will need your phone to keep in touch with friends, family, and other acquaintances back home. So, you have to find a way around this obstacle. Here are some tips to help put your mind at ease.

How To Use Your Cell Phone Abroad

  1. Subscribe for an International Phone Plan
  2. Pack a Universal Plug and Power Adapter
  3. Check Whether Your Phone is Unlocked
  4. Rent an International SIM Card
  5. Take Advantage of WiFi Connections
  6. Rent a Portable WiFi Device
  7. Back Up Date to the Cloud
  8. Pre-Download Maps and Other Important Data

Subscribe for an International Phone Plan

Telecom service providers charge exorbitant fees for roaming – that is, using your phone as you normally would while overseas. The bill may rack up quickly, depending on how much you use the phone. To avoid these exorbitant bills, consider subscribing for an international phone plan.

An international phone plan will enable you to access all features on your phone. The cost is lower than the cost of roaming, but it is slightly higher than what you are used to back home.

Different phone service providers have varying rates for international phone plans. Check to see and compare the price of this service from different providers. If possible, temporarily change to the provider with the cheapest plan to reduce your international travel costs – this is especially advisable if you will be spending a lot of time overseas.  

Pack a Universal Plug and Power Adapter

The last thing you want is your phone to run out of juice when in a foreign country. You may be thinking, “I’d just charge it.” However, this may not be as simple as you may think, as power outlets in foreign countries tend to differ from the standard design here in the U.S. For instance, the voltage output of power outlets in Europe is higher than in the U.S. This means that the phone may be incompatible, and you may burn a fuse or cause other serious damages charging it directly.

There is a solution: travel adapters. Universal travel adapters are designed to make your devices compatible with foreign power outlets. They are capable of automatically converting the voltage to be compatible with your phone’s voltage limit. As such, research the variation in voltage output in your destination country and buy a smart plug that will get the job done. You should also consider carrying an extra battery pack or portable charger just to be safe.    

Check Whether Your Phone is Unlocked

It would be cheaper and easier to use a rented SIM card that is registered for use in your destination country than roaming or purchasing an international phone plan. The charges would be much lower, and you can call and text limitlessly. However, you will need an unlocked phone to use an internationally-registered SIM card.

A locked phone means that it can only be used with a single service provider. Most Android and iPhones in the U.S. are locked.

Check to see whether or not your phone is locked. If it is, you should consider buying a cheap unlocked smart phone before taking off or immediately after arriving at your country of destination – make sure that the phone has all the features you need to stay connected.

Rent an International SIM Card

A SIM card registered for use in your destination country will save you a lot of trouble and money, as mentioned. You can call and text your associates and loved ones back home at a fraction of the price of roaming or international phone plan. As such, rent a local SIM card immediately upon arrival. You will find rental SIM cards in key stores – all major airports have stores that offer this service – and from the local telecom company outlets.

There is one major drawback of using a rented SIM card: it will not match your usual number. You will need to inform your contacts about your new number to facilitate smooth communication. You will also need to familiarize yourself with all the features and services of your new SIM card to make full use of it.   

Take Advantage of WiFi Connections

As mentioned, data roaming charges are quite expensive. To this end, international travelers are advised to turn off data usage unless when they need to connect to the internet. This is inconvenient, especially considering that you were always connected to the grid back home.

The best way to stay connected to the internet when travelling overseas is by taking advantage of WiFi connections. You are bound to pick up a lot of free WiFi signals, but this will depend on how developed your destination is. You are guaranteed to get strong coverage at the airport, hotel, and other key places that you will be visiting. Take advantage of these opportunities to connect to the internet and upload what you want or keep up with developments back home.

Cautionary Tip: Free Wi-Fi connections are not always secure, especially when travelling overseas. Hackers can easily eavesdrop on your communication, steal your data, and infect your devices with compromising software. As such, take extra measures to stay safe when connected to these networks. Consider installing anti-malware applications to your devices, and always check to see that the network is secure before connecting.

Rent a Portable WiFi Device

As mentioned, free Wi-Fi networks are not entirely reliable. They are not always available, and most of them may expose you to serious security flaws. Still, you cannot do without a reliable connection to the internet. As such, consider a safer and more reliable alternative – renting your very own dedicated portable Wi-Fi device.

Portable Wi-Fi devices are small gadgets that can fit in the palm of your hand or your pocket. They are light and convenient to carry around. They are also as strong as some low-end routers, so you will get all the data you need to stay connected.

Rental portable Wi-Fi devices are available in most countries – you will likely find an authorized vendor at your destination’s airport. They are also cheaper and more convenient to use when compared to data roaming, international cell phone plans, and rental SIM cards.

Back Up Data to the Cloud

How safe is your destination country? There is always the risk of your phone (and other belongings) getting stolen. This would rob you of important data, such as stunning photos of your destination that would make for great Instagram and social media posts. However, losing your device doesn’t mean that you have to lose your sensitive data – not with Cloud technology freely available!

Be sure to back up your data to the cloud as often as you can when travelling. There is unlimited space on the cloud, so you can upload as much data as you wish. Ensure that the data you upload on the cloud stays safe by locking it using a sophisticated password and other cyber security devices.

Cautionary Tip: Even if you upload your sensitive data on the cloud, it can still be hacked by whoever steals your devices. As such, take extra security measures to render the data worthless to unauthorized persons who may get access to your devices. For instance, you should lock your phone using a password and other security apps to restrict access to sensitive data. You should also program your devices to wipe all data in case they are misplaced or stolen.  

Pre-Download Maps and Other Important Data

Data charges will soar once you leave the country, as explained severally. This is why it would be prudent to download all the important files and information you need before departing for your destination country. This will save you a pretty penny downloading this files overseas, and you will not be as reliant on the internet as you would otherwise be.

The first thing to download should be a map of your destination country. You will definitely need one to get around, and a pre-downloaded map is accessible offline – Google Maps allows users to access maps offline on both iOS and Android devices.

You should also consider downloading your favorite media files, such as your favorite music and shows, beforehand. You will not only pay extra on data, but some apps, such as Netflix, may charge you extra for using them overseas. Make a list of everything you will need from the internet, and if it can be used offline be sure to download it before departing.

Final Word

You cannot afford to leave your phone behind when visiting another country. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t have to pay a fortune for using your phone internationally. These tips will save you a lot of money and trouble. The most important thing you should do is subscribing to an international phone plan or rent a local SIM card for temporary use during your travels. Travel safe, see the world, and keep us updated on your voyages by making use of these tips.

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