Your smartphone can be your best travel companion, but if you are not careful you could end up with a huge bill and lots of hassles when you
return home. This article provides some tips you can use to keep your smartphone costs under control.
A smartphone is quickly becoming a must-have accessory for travel. Smartphone-equipped travelers can get instant directions, check in remotely with their hotels, get flight status updates and find information on local attractions, all from the palm of their hands.
What those travelers may not know is that traveling abroad with a smartphone can be very expensive. That innocent-looking smartphone in your pocket could be silently downloading updates and checking in with local cell phone towers, eating up your data minutes and causing you to incur serious roaming charges.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do before you leave home to reduce the cost of travel and make sure your smartphone is protected. Taking a few minutes now to prepare your smartphone can help you avoid a big bill later on.
Check with Your Carrier
You need to check with your carrier before heading off on vacation, especially if you will be traveling outside your home country. Your cell carrier will be able to tell you if your current plan provides international coverage and give you options if it does not.
Your carrier will probably offer some sort of international plan, but that may not be the best choice. International smartphone plans tend to be very expensive, and there are other options that will let you communicate with people back home.
You can, for instance, rent an international phone just for your trip. These fully-featured smartphones are designed for international use, and they come with plans that allow you to keep in touch without worrying about huge charges when you get home.
Get a Local SIM Card
If you have an unlocked GSM phone, you can buy a local prepaid SIM card when you arrive at your travel destination. You can swap that prepaid SIM card for your regular one when you need to communicate with others in the area and get local information.
Just make sure you put your regular SIM card back in before phoning home. You will incur some serious roaming charges if you use the local SIM card to make international calls.
Put The Smartphone In Airplane Mode
You will need to put your smartphone into airplane mode before you take off, but there is no reason to turn it off when you reach the ground. Airplane mode is good for more than just airplanes, and it can be your best friend when traveling abroad.
Putting your smartphone into airplane mode prevents it from reaching out to local cell towers, and that is exactly what you want when traveling internationally. If your phone is in normal mode, it might reach out to the local cell system to get app updates and download information – all without your knowledge. That could mean you come home to a huge bill.
Check your phone each morning and evening to make sure airplane mode is still enabled. Some phones will try to revert to normal mode, so it is important to check the status often.
Get the Right Apps
You do not have to use up all your data minutes to keep in touch with the folks back home. With the right apps, you can use free or inexpensive Wi-Fi instead. Before you leave home, download a Wi-Fi finding app like this one from NinthDecimal to help you find the best networks once you arrive at your destination.
Once you have a solid Wi-Fi signal, you can use apps like Skype and Whatsapp to chat with friends, share your travel impressions and keep in touch.
Taking these steps before you leave home can allow you to enjoy your international adventures without worrying about a big bill when you come home. Planning ahead is always important when you travel, and that advance planning is just as important for your smartphone.