How to Use Your Cellphone While Traveling Abroad
The summer travel season is coming up, and if you’re doing an extended trip overseas, it’s time to start planning. It’s often the least fun part of the vacation process, but you’ll have to make a list of all those travel needs.
Obviously those include plenty of clothes and personal items, but what about communication? The means by which you call home and send some text messages?
Even though it can be beneficial to your trip to ditch the phone, you should plan for at least some kind of communication. Even if it’s just staying in your room, a phone is going to be necessary. But, that also creates the issue of cell service. You might not know that many foreign countries could use your existing cellphone service, saving a switch to new phone providers.
For example, if you use Sprint as a provider, there’s a good chance that you can use the same service on your foreign trip.
When you’re in unfamiliar territory, it can be a real hassle to rely on maps and directories to find hotels or places to eat. Pulling up a map or local restaurant reviews on your phone can be both reliable and faster.
As it turns out, you can often use your cellphone while traveling to foreign countries.
Willing to put in a bit of work for your international phone usage?
You can save money by purchasing a foreign subscriber identification module (SIM) card or prepaid card. In this case, you can take your cell phone with you, but you’ll use a different phone number while traveling.
Keep in mind that many cell carriers fight this by “locking” your phone when abroad. A cell phone repair shop can usually fix this and unlock your phone. Otherwise, you could buy another cheap phone that’s already unlocked.
From there, you can choose from either an international SIM card or one that’s specific to a country. If visiting multiple countries on your trip, it’s likely smart to buy a pricier international card. Staying in one country? You can save with a SIM card specific for that nation.
There is a lazy method for travelers that want to use their own phone. Some form of international data is available on most major phone carriers in the United States.
T-Mobile and Sprint customers can take advantage of their international roaming. Both offer high-speed options for people that need fast internet during their trip.
Verizon and AT&T both offer international data plan options. These prices vary greatly depending on how much data, calls or texts you plan to use.
Many cellphone carries offer different applications for making phone calls and sending text messages. WhatsApp and WeChat are two of the world’s most popular apps for international messaging, but not your only options.
Many travelers already have a Google or Skype account. This allows you to communicate via Skype and Google Hangouts when traveling.
But, even these are only the tip of the iceberg, with a plethora of options for both iPhone and Android users.
Still need some travel documents before taking your trip? Passport Health can help! Call us at or check out any of our other passport and visa services.
Written for Passport Health by Jerry Olsen. He has over 15 years of combined experience as a writer and editor in Salt Lake City. Jerry’s writing topics range from health care, travel, life science to medical technology and technical writing.