Travel tip – using your mobile phone abroad

If you’re a traveller who struggles to unplug, this one is for you!

Using your mobile phone abroad

No doubt you’re well aware of the potential costs associated with using your mobile when abroad, it seems to be one of those topics which creep back into the news every couple of months!

Living and working abroad certainly has its advantages compared to Australia, in my opinion, the data packages (in the UK) for travelling abroad is much more palatable. There are a number of potential reasons for this, a high number of business travellers, the smaller regions with the adjacent borders (when in Geneva my phone consistently switched between the Swiss and French networks) and most likely, more competition, there are many more network providers all fighting for a larger share of the market.

Let’s be honest, you’ve all been somewhere and have gotten absolutely lost and not even a map will help you find where you need to go… So, these days you can easily turn to Google Maps to help direct you to where you have to go….  Like we did when we got lost hiking in Cinque Terre!

Using your phone while abroad - google maps

Or, you take that awesome selfie on your mobile and can’t possibly wait until you’re on Wi-Fi to upload it to Instagram or Facebook (you’ve all been there…)

thewelltravelledman Using your mobile abroad

To avoid declaring bankruptcy to get out of that phone bill follow these tips!

  1. Turn off data roaming (allowing calls to be received)
    This is the first thing we do before we even take off from our home country!  That way, you’ll be assured that when you turn on your phone when you arrive, it won’t automatically start synchronising apps and downloading emails in the background. This option still allows you to use your camera, offline maps and guides (see below) using GPS without even costing a penny of your precious data!
  2. Offline maps (essential in my opinion)
    When you’ve decided where you’re going to holiday, take a look at the app store for your destination, make sure you download some free offline maps and city guides.  I generally find MobilyTrip one of the best free offline apps and very helpful when I’m not on a paid tour. The app not only provides you with a very helpful offline map but also highlighting the points of interest at your destination together with a couple of photos and a short description. You can also use Google Maps Offline as well. A full guide is coming soon!
  3. Wi-Fi (C’mon there are many hotels, restaurants and cafe’s offering this for free)
    Most of you will already be doing this, but hotels, restaurants and cafe’s these days generally all have Wi-Fi available, free of charge.  You can stop in, take a break, have a drink and then reassess where you are, what’s around you and what you’re doing next! There have only been a few destinations (such as hiking in Norway!) where we simply couldn’t resist using our data to upload a few shots of our amazing trip.
  4. Prepaid roaming (data packages for abroad)
    If you do select this option, many of the prepaid plans come with a few Ts and Cs. Be mindful of any daily data limits, selecting either the unlimited option, or plans which give ample warning, or simply deactivates your usage when you have reached the cap.
  5. Buy a local SIM card (great for longer holidays in one or two other countries)
    If you’re going abroad for a while, it may be beneficial for you to buy a local SIM card which you can use on your phone while you’re away.  This will limit any exorbitant call roaming charges!
  6. Remove your SIM card (this is the last resort in my opinion)
    Honestly, if you have turned off your data roaming, and remain conscious not to make or receive phone calls unless you’re in exceptional circumstances then this really should only be for those who still remain unsure.Unplugging for the rest of the world is fantastic, but at the same time you always have the option of leaving your phone in the hotel room or simply keeping it turned off until you need to use it. However, one way or another with the SIM card removed, you’re guaranteed to avoid any unexpected charges so still a valid tip!

Found this helpful? Click here for even more of thewelltravelledman’s travel tips!

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10 Comments on “Travel tip – using your mobile phone abroad

  1. This is great information. I have lots of friends planning to travel and the mobile issue always comes up.

    • I’m fortunate enough to have a work phone and this hasn’t been a big issue for me … until now… Now that we are moving to Sydney I will need to hand my phone back and we have 8 weeks of travel where we have had to think through this issue ourselves!

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