After a recent trip to London, I decided it would be a good idea to compile some travel tips for tech. From figuring out international roaming plans to using your phone to get a ride, here are some smart travel tips to make technology work for you wherever you go.
In this article:
- Verify Cellular Service Before You Fly
- Ask About International Roaming Plans
- Switch Your Phone to Airplane Mode
- Use Wi-Fi to Minimize Cellular Charges
- Swap SIMs And Use Local Carriers
- Enrich Your Entertainment Options While Flying
- Don’t Text, Just Chat on an App
- Let the Food Come to You
- Need a Cab? Just Use the Uber App
- Warning: Transaction Fees May Apply for Credit Cards
- Different Countries, Different Power Outlets
- You USB Hub Will Be Your Best Bud Abroad
- Keep Power on-the-Go
Smart Travel Tech Tips For A Stress-Free Overseas Trip
1. Verify Cellular Service Before You Fly
There are instances when certain functions, such as sending and receiving text messages, aren’t supported for some mobile phones in certain countries. Call your cellular provider before you leave for your trip to see if your phone will work in the country/countries you are visiting and what the cost will be.
2. Ask About International Roaming Plans
See if they have a temporary plan you can activate while you are traveling. Cellular service providers call these international roaming plans, and you can switch to this service before you leave.
Different carriers have different rates, so it’s best to check with your provider to avoid bill shock when you go home.
3. Switch Your Phone to Airplane Mode
When you get on the plane, turn off data on your phone (varies by phone on how to do this). Airlines ask you to do this because your phone emits electromagnetic interference that can disrupt the plane’s communications, navigation, and other electronic equipment.
For Android, you just have to drag the top part of your screen down and click the Airplane icon. If you have an Apple device, wipe up from the bottom to bring up the “Control Center” so you can see the Airplane icon.
4. Use Wi-Fi to Minimize Cellular Charges
Use free Wi-Fi from hotels, coffee shops, etc. whenever possible to avoid massive data charges (if you decide to use your U.S. data plan). Some places may require a password before you can access the Wi-FI. Don’t be afraid to ask!
5. Swap SIMs And Use Local Carriers
Consider buying a local SIM card when you arrive in your destination country. This essentially makes your phone a local phone with a local plan in that country.
You can use a pay-as-you-go service, which means you’ll only be paying every time you want more from your plan instead of being on a contract. Cell providers usually bundle data, minutes, and texts in one price, so you’ll have a variety of options depending on how much you want to pay.
Swap the local SIM with your old SIM when you get back home. Be careful not to lose it because they’re really tiny!
Also, note that not every phone supports SIM-swapping, so be sure to check ahead of time.
Mr. Noobie tip: Don’t get your SIM from a vending machine in the airport. Instead, go to a local store where a human / real person can help you install the SIM and get your phone configured correctly.
Warning: Swapping a SIM will give you a local phone number in the country you’re in, so you won’t be able to receive text messages sent to your “regular” mobile number.
6. Enrich Your Entertainment Options While Flying
Buy a cheap pair of earbuds with a 3.5mm plug for the entertainment system on long international flights. Of course, you can upgrade these to full-fledged over-the-ear headphones. Just make sure it has a 3.5 mm plug on the end.
7. Don’t Text, Just Chat on an App
Use apps like What’s App, Facebook Messenger, Skype, or Telegram to avoid text charges and keep international “chatting” free. You can even use some of these for video calls so you can take your loved ones on a virtual trip with you.
8. Let the Food Come to You
Hungry but too tired at the end of the night to leave your hotel? Try apps like Uber Eats or other local food delivery apps to have a meal delivered right to you. I actually used Uber Eats to get my kids a late night McDonald’s meal when we were settled in for the night but were still hungry.
9. Need a Cab? Just Use the Uber App
Uber is international so if you need a ride, there’s a good chance Uber is available in the country you are in. In some cases, they’re even cheaper than cabs. I used Uber a bunch in London.
10. Warning: Transaction Fees May Apply for Credit Cards
Be careful when using your credit card. Most of them will convert currency for you automatically, but some will charge foreign transaction fees. Call your credit card company to see what the fees will be ahead of time or get a card that features zero foreign transaction fees (such as Capital One Venture, which I use)
11. Different Countries, Different Power Outlets
Make sure you have the appropriate power adapters/converters for the country you’re visiting or you won’t be able to charge your smartphone or tablet!
12. You USB Hub Will Be Your Best Bud Abroad
Rather than buying multiple power adapters/converters, buy one, then just use a USB charging hub. Plug the hub into the adapter, then plug all devices you need to charge into the USB charging hub. One example you can check out is the Anker 6-Port USB Wall Charger.
13. Keep Power on-the-Go
Carry a portable charger, such as the Anker PowerCore+, during the day so you can charge your smartphone on-the-go.
Watch these budget travel destinations in this video from vagabrothers:
These international travel tips involve things we normally take for granted, like a phone signal or an Internet connection. These are just some ways to help you become a smart traveler and avoid any tech-related hassles and unexpected expenses.
I hope these tips can help you on your next adventure. Happy traveling!
Do you have other travel tips for tech that can help other travelers out there? Share them with us in the comments section below!
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