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Mobile phone travel hacks: 8 tips for using your device abroad

Written by Fiona

May 12 2021

If you enjoy travelling the globe, meeting people from different walks of life and taking in breathtaking scenery, you will want to known about these mobile phone hacks. Whether you’re heading on a city break with your partner, a family holiday, or a business trip awaits, it’s important that you stay connected with loved ones and colleagues while on your travels.

When using your phone abroad, data roaming charges and international fees may be the first thing that springs to mind. However, there are many tips you can use to your advantage to ensure you can speak to those back home without worrying about a huge bill at the end of the month. Before heading out on your next adventure, here are some tips for using your device while overseas.

Check if Your Device Will Work Abroad

The most important thing you need to do before heading on your travels is check whether your device will work overseas. Although most modern mobiles can be used internationally without any issues, if you plan on using your device abroad, you need to determine whether it will actually work once you reach your destination. 

There are two radio systems that are used across the world for mobile devices: CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and GSM (Global System for Mobiles). GSM devices do not work on the CDMA network. While this shouldn’t be too much of a problem when you consider that most of the globe uses GSM, some countries like Russia and the United States still use CDMA. Wherever you’re heading, it’s best to check what your mobile uses in advance, as it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Purchase a Roaming Bundle

While this option will depend on the kind of phone plan you have, lots of networks provide international bundles you can buy as a one-off or daily fee for the entire length of your overseas travel. For travellers who are only going away for a number of days, it may be worth checking out roaming bundles provided by your phone company. There are all sorts of bundles that give consumers a certain number of texts, minutes, and data per day. However, they can be expensive, so they may not suit your needs.

When compared to domestic monthly plans, roaming bundles typically have less generous allowances. This means that it’s your responsibility to monitor your usage, otherwise you will be charged normal roaming rates which can soon add up and turn into a nasty surprise once you return home. You can ask phone companies to set an alert so that when you reach your limit you do not insure further charges.

Choose Your Sim Card Wisely

Wherever you go to in the world, you may wish to take out a SIM-only plan for your travels. For example, with Lebara, you can find the Best SIM Only Deals which include 30 day rolling plans, meaning you can cancel or change it whenever you like. What’s more, Lebara’s out of bundle is capped at zero, meaning you won’t get a huge bill once you step foot on home turf. Should you choose Lebara UK, their international pass is fantastic for texting and calling loved ones. 

If you’re going away on an extensive business trip, you can receive free international minutes, meaning you can check in with friends, family, and work colleagues without any worries about going over your limit. Before deciding on a SIM card, you must establish which countries you’re going to visit to ensure you pick the right package. 

Turn Off Data Roaming

If you have your international calls sorted, one of the biggest things that can send your bill sky-high is leaving your data roaming switched off. Once you get on the airplane, the first thing you should do is turn it off. This means that any services or apps you use on your device won’t be able to access it, and there won’t be any hidden charges to fear. 

As the UK has now left the EU, this means that surcharge-free roaming when travelling to EU and EEA countries is no longer promised. When you’re going on an overseas trip, it can be easy to forget about your data roaming, so to avoid any extortionate charges once you return to the UK, you should switch off your data roaming.

Buy a Cheap Mobile Phone

If you like to keep up to date with tech, you’ll likely have a pricey smartphone in your back pocket. However, many travellers worry about breaking, losing or dropping their devices while on their holidays. If this sounds like you and you believe you cannot be trusted, it may be wise to leave your device at home and purchase a cheap device that can be used for the trip. 

You can simply pick up a back-up phone that will keep you connected with the outside world, allowing you to enjoy your time away while reaching out to loved ones as and when you need to. No one wants to have to call their insurance provider at the end of a trip because of phone damage, so put your pride to one side and opt for a cheap model that will do the job while you’re overseas.

Use Free Wi-Fi

For travellers who aren’t sold on purchasing a new SIM card and want to avoid roaming charges overseas, there are lots of Wi-Fi hotspots you can take advantage of to keep in touch with those back home. If you’re heading to a capital city or popular beach destination, you can rest assured that there will be plenty of establishments that provide free Wi-Fi. 

Make sure to check with your accommodation provider about Wi-Fi before booking your trip. Remember, when you aren’t using Wi-Fi, you must turn off your mobile data and international roaming. If you don’t, this could come back to bite you. 

Use Social Media

Thanks to technology, there are more ways than ever to keep connected with loved ones while on your travels. Whether you love it or hate it, social media giants like Facebook and Instagram allow you to video call others, meaning you can avoid expensive SMS and international call charges by using social media messaging apps instead. To reap the benefits, all you need to do is download the apps on to your device.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

When overseas, it’s normal that you’ll want to capture every moment and share photos and videos with your nearest and dearest. While there is no harm in doing so, you need to have your wits about you when abroad. If you decide to take your personal mobile on your trip, you need to keep it hidden and out of sight. Unfortunately, pickpockets operate all over the world, so to reduce the risk of your device being stolen, make sure you keep your device in an inside zipped-up pocket. While you may feel safe in crowded spaces, these are areas that pickpockets thrive in. So, if you must take a photo or video, make sure you stay alert and aware of your surroundings. 

No matter what your travel plans are, having a mobile phone with you is essential for staying in touch with loved ones. Whether you’re hopping over to Ireland, going on a European adventure, or heading further afield to continents like North America, Asia, or Australasia, the tips above will help you get the most out of your device while jet-setting across the world.

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