When traveling, we are used to our mobile phones being our primary source of connection with the world, via the internet. That connection can serve as a guide, literally telling us where to go as we travel to other cities.
This works well enough when you’re inside the borders of your own country and in cell range of your carrier’s towers. Things change once you leave your country and enter roaming. Data charges while you’re in roaming mode can cost you a lot of money. You can end up spending more money on roaming data than for your entire trip. To avoid this, here are a couple of things you can do.
Bring an Unlocked Phone with You
Unlocked phones are SIM free and any SIM card can work inside them. Many phones are locked until your contract with the carrier is over. You can have them unlocked by contacting your carrier or purchasing an unlocked phone. You do not have to purchase a phone directly from a carrier, as those phones tend to be unlocked in the first place. A great and cheap alternative is getting an older smartphone which is surely out of contract and therefore much easier to unlock.
Get a Local Sim Card
Once you’re at your destination and if you plan on staying for an extended period of time, let’s say a month, getting a local SIM card will save your bank account. Local prepaid SIM cards with data are available in most countries but be careful as some have nation-wide firewalls like China. They tend to block most social media and apps like Gmail and Maps. Regardless, most of the world’s countries will provide you with no issues if you buy a local prepaid SIM card.
If you do decide on getting a local SIM card, please check whether it supports a language you understand. Also, take note of your new number, in case you decide to keep the card and return to the country you visited.
Use Local Wi-Fi
The use of Wi-Fi is free in many public places in most countries. You will likely be able to find an internet connection wherever you go. More often than not, there is Wi-Fi in every café and hotel or hostel.
Consider Radio Silence
If you don’t want to purchase a local SIM card and are tired of searching for free Wi-Fi, the best thing that you can do is set your phone to airplane mode and travel like in the early 90s or 2000s, for some countries.
If you’re planning on going abroad, these tips should save you a lot of money and time, should you decide to use your mobile phone extensively.