Travelling with your phone: Essential tips for a smooth trip

28 June 2024


Share this post:

Imagine stepping off the plane, ready for adventure and your phone seamlessly connects to the local network, ready to guide you to your hotel. No frantic searches for Wi-Fi, no surprise roaming charges. Sounds like a dream, right?

Travelling abroad is an exciting adventure and having your mobile phone with you can be a game-changer. From navigating unfamiliar streets to staying connected with loved ones, your smartphone is your best companion. But using your mobile while abroad comes with its own set of challenges. Let’s take a look at what these may be and how to overcome them.

Prepare your phone before you leave

Before you jet off, a little prep can go a long way. Here’s how to get your phone fit for your adventure:

Download essential travel apps

Whether you’re walking the streets of Tokyo or driving through the Italian countryside, navigation apps like Google Maps can be lifesavers. Another must have are translation apps, which can decipher menus, translate street signs and even help you have a basic conversation with the locals – imagine ordering tapas in Barcelona with a confident Me gustaria…. Currency converters may also come in handy and the same applies for photo editing apps to help you make your travel snaps pop.

Check your plan and roaming fees

Roaming charges can put a damper on your holiday cheer so it’s important to check with your carrier about data packages and roaming fees before you leave the island. You may also want to look into international travel plans and bundles, particularly if you’re travelling
outside the EU. Wi-Fi cafes are great, but having data allows for more flexibility, especially if you’re exploring off the beaten path.

Pack smart

Carrying a portable charger or power bank ensures your phone stays powered throughout your adventures. Look for one with enough capacity to charge your phone multiple times and don’t forget tips and tricks like lowering the brightness of your screen and turning off unnecessary features like Bluetooth or GPS when not in need to extend your battery’s life. You can also activate your phone’s battery saver mode to limit background processes and extend battery life.

Also, don’t forget a sturdy phone case and maybe even a waterproof pouch for beach adventures, because who doesn’t love those envy-inducing poolside selfies?

Man holding a phone showing Google Maps

Managing connectivity abroad

Understanding roaming

Roaming allows you to use your mobile phone to make calls, send texts and use data outside your home network, typically when you’re in another country. Your home carrier partners with foreign networks to provide these services, ensuring you’re still connected even when far from home.

While a necessity, roaming has its pros and cons.

Some of the pros are:

  • Convenience: seamlessly use your phone without changing SIM cards
  • Reliability: maintain your current phone number and contact list
  • Access: instant connection as soon as you land

Some of the cons are:

  • Cost: roaming charges can be high, especially for data usage
  • Variable quality: service quality may vary depending on the local network

Find out more about data roaming.

Managing data usage abroad

Monitoring your data usage is crucial to avoid unexpected charges. Luckily, most smartphones have built-in tools to track usage, while you can also set data limits and get alerts as you approach your threshold. For instance, on your iPhone, go to ‘Settings’ > ‘Cellular’ > ‘Cellular Data Usage’, while on Android go to ‘Settings’ > ‘Network & Internet’ > ‘Data Usage’.

Meanwhile, here are some tips on how to reduce your data consumption.

  • Use Wi-Fi whenever possible – like at your hotel, cafes or public spaces
  • Download content in advance – save maps, music and videos for offline use
  • Disable background data – adjust your data to prevent apps from eating up your data
  • Limit video streaming – streaming videos consumes a lot of data. To avoid this consider lowering the video quality.

Leveraging eSIM technology

An eSIM can be a great option for when travelling abroad. It offers the ultimate flexibility since you do not need to fiddle with physical SIM cards and you can just purchase and activate your eSIM plan right from your phone. Not to mention that it can transform your device into a dual-sim one, allowing you to keep your current number and have a separate data plan for your travel on your new line. What’s more, eSIM provides additional security since if you lose your phone, the eSIM can’t be easily removed like a physical SIM card. Interested to know more about eSIMs? Read through this eSIM guide and discover why eSIMs are a game-changer for you and the environment. Interested in a plan? Take a look at these eSIM prepaid plans.

Using Wi-Fi

Where possible, you can also take advantage of free Wi-Fi in cafes, hotels and public places. This is great for data-heavy activities like video calls or streaming. Just make sure you use a VPN to protect your personal data from potential hackers. Discover more about VPNs and why you might need one while travelling far and wide.

Make the most of your device’s features

  • Offline capabilities: prepare for times when you can’t rely on internet access. For instance, download your favourite movies or TV shows, save your music playlists and podcast episodes, while you may also want to bring a portable gaming device which can serve as a great companion during long flights or train rides.
  • Enable mobile payment solutions: Apple Pay, Google Pay and other digital wallets have become increasingly accepted worldwide, while they offer a secure way to pay without carrying too much cash or your credit cards.
  • Emergency features: save local emergency numbers and enable location sharing with trusted contacts. Also, many phones allow you to share your live location through messaging apps, which can be a lifesaver if you get lost.

Young people by the pool

Mobile security while travelling

Let’s face it, travel may make you more vulnerable to theft or data breaches, while your device may be more prone to accidents if you’re carefree and not on your guard as you typically are. Here are some ideas of what you can do.

Protect your device

Keep your phone safe from theft and damage. Use a sturdy case and consider a waterproof bag if you’re heading to the beach or prone to getting caught in the rain. In addition, enable ‘Find My iPhone’ or ‘Find My Device’ features, which can help you locate or remotely lock your device if it’s lost or stolen.

Data security

Make sure your phone and apps are protected with strong, unique passwords and be cautious about where you store sensitive information. In fact, avoid accessing financial or sensitive accounts over public Wi-Fi and if you really have to, make sure to use a VPN. As mentioned above, a VPN will encrypt your internet connection, protecting your data from prying eyes.

Troubleshooting common issues

Being prepared can make the difference between chaos and calm in a crisis, but unfortunately, mishaps can take place when you least expect them, so knowing how to troubleshoot common issues can save you time and stress.

What to do if your phone stops working

Begin with the obvious like restarting your phone since this can fix many minor issues and will ensure that your phone’s software is up to date. If these tips don’t work, find a nearby local authorised service centre for more help.

How to find local help

It’s important to know where to find help if you run into trouble. This could be local mobile shops, customer service hotlines or online forums. You may also ask for help at your hotel since they can often recommend local service centres. Meanwhile, some warranties include international support so check yours.

Travelling with your mobile phone can enhance your trip significantly when done right. By preparing in advance, managing connectivity wisely and utilizing your phone’s features, you can navigate new places effortlessly, while staying connected. So, pack your bags, prep your phone, and get ready for a smooth, connected adventure. Safe travels!