Traveling abroad with your phone can be both a blessing and a curse. While not strictly necessary, the availability of new travel apps can be a huge asset while on the road. There are a few things to keep in mind when considering if you should take your phone with you or not.GSM/LTE/Other – Different cell phone companies operate on different types of technology. Verizon in the US operates on an LTE system, while AT&T and others use GSM. This is important when trying to use your phone abroad, as you may face compatibility issues. This is an essential concern if you’re intending to purchase SIM cards once arrived in your destination country. It is also a good idea to call your phone carrier. Many companies offer an international plan for little to no cost. This will allow you to use your phone for reduced fees or even free in some areas. Make sure you check to see if data and texting is included in your plan.SIM Locked Phones – A popular trend among carries is to lock a phone to their network. What this means is that you won’t be able to use a SIM card in the phone from another provider without them issuing you an unlock code. While absolutely infuriating, this can cause huge headaches when using your phone abroad. In some cases you can contact your provider, tell them you’ll be traveling and that you need the phone unlocked. In other instances, you may have to go through a third party provider to get your phone unlocked.
Data Roaming – Be extremely careful about your phone’s ability to connect to a data plan, or accidently butt dial while abroad. Even a 2 minute data connection while roaming in a foreign country can result in significant fees.
Pre-Paid SIMs – Many countries allow the purchase of pre-paid SIM cards. These allow you to cheaply (and easily) drop the pre-paid SIM card into your SIM friendly phone. Once done, you’ll be able to make and receive calls on a new local number.
Throwaway Phones – Like pre-paid SIM cards, it’s also often possible to purchase a very cheap mobile phone in the country you’re visiting. This may be a much simpler, and more affordable option for people concerned with the cost of using their mobile plan abroad.