If you are planning on traveling internationally you will no doubt want to stay in contact with family and friends. Normally, you would send a text or make a call without thinking about it. But when you are overseas, it is not that simple.
Using your phone abroad can be frustrating and expensive. However, if you follow a few simple tips you will be able to stay in contact with your loved ones and not break the bank.
1- Make Sure Your Phone Will Work In Other Countries
This seems obvious but many travelers leave home without knowing this information. Mobile phone companies in different countries use different frequencies and technologies, so your phone may not be compatible.
If you have a “world phone” you should be okay. But if you don’t you need to make sure your phone is “quad-band GSM” it should work as well. If you are not sure what type of phone you have, call your carrier and explain to them that you will be traveling and you want to make sure your phone will work.
2- Unlock Your Phone
One of the easiest ways to ensure that your phone will work in a new country is to purchase a local SIM card and use it in your phone. To do this you will need to have an unlocked phone.
If you bought your phone outright, it is most likely unlocked. If not, contact your carrier and have them unlock the phone for you. Many carriers will automatically unlock your phone as soon as it is out of contract.
You can buy a SIM card in most countries for a few dollars and the local plans are very reasonable. There will most likely be plenty of mobile carriers set up at the airport as you land. You can easily get a local SIM card and have phone service before you step into a cab to take you to your hotel.
3- Use Messaging Apps
One way to avoid all the hassle of unlocking a phone, buying an international roaming package, and trying to figure out how to set up a local phone plan, is to simply use any one of the messaging apps out there. Apps like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, and Skype allow you to send messages and make calls for free. All you need is a Wi-Fi connection.
This will make you dependent on a Wi-Fi connection and could limit your mobility, but it will cost you nothing.
As more public Wi-Fi hotspots are popping up all over the world, this option is becoming more popular for international travelers.
Using your smartphone in a different country is becoming easier. In some cases, the transition is seamless. With a little bit of planning, you can ensure that you will stay in contact with friends and family back home and not have a huge phone bill when you get back home.