Smartphones are arguably the most essential gadget when you're traveling internationally. Not only do they keep you in contact with family and friends back home, you also use them to touch base with new friends, for photos, navigation, restaurant hunting, sharing on social media, reading the news and so much more! Traveling efficiently with your smartphone does take some planning and foresight to find the method that fits your budget and needs. Here are four different ways to use your smartphone in other countries:
The first thing you want to do before traveling abroad with your smartphone is unlock it. This can only be done once you have completely paid off your phone. Contact your carrier or look online for carrier-specific guidelines, rules and associated fees, although unlocking your smartphone tends to be a free service. If your carrier will not unlock your smartphone, you have not paid off your phone or your phone does not have a SIM card, purchase a cheap, unlocked smartphone phone that you can take abroad.
The most reliable way to use your smartphone while traveling is to purchase a foreign SIM card upon arrival to your destination. Although you could purchase a SIM card in advance, purchasing one at the airport, convenience store, grocery store or electronic store in big cities is very simple. Since this method will give you a different, local phone number that you can use while abroad, you will have to re-register for certain apps with your new phone number.
Usually, a pay-as-you-go plan for a new SIM card will be cheaper than purchasing a monthly plan, unless you will be traveling for an extended period of time or foresee yourself relying on your smartphone heavily. Purchasing a SIM card also allows you to access cellular data and use apps such as WhatsApp, Viber, Skype or Facebook Messenger to stay in touch with family and friends back home.
If you're traveling to several different countries or just don't want to purchase a SIM card, using your phone strictly on Wi-Fi is a lot easier and more reliable than you think. Keeping your phone on airplane mode, log into the Wi-Fi at your hotel, restaurants, bars, public parks, libraries, museums or coffee shops. You'll be surprised at how many different locations offer free Wi-Fi to lure in customers, especially tourists like yourself. For texting, use apps like WhatsApp, Viber, Skype or Facebook Messenger, but be sure to notify your family and close friends of which applications you will be using so they can set up accounts as well. Stay up to date with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Lastly, make phone calls using the Wi-Fi calling feature, which allows you to make and receive calls, access unlimited high-speed data and send and receive messages over a wireless internet connection.
Usually the most expensive option, purchasing an international plan through your carrier allows you to use your smartphone without unlocking it, while keeping your number, accessing high-speed data, sending and receiving messages and making and receiving calls. Most carriers have several options from a basic plan to unlimited data, talk and text. As previously mentioned, international plans through your carrier could be expensive, but supplementing your data with Wi-Fi whenever possible should alleviate some of the pressure.
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