How To Travel Abroad with Your Smartphone

It doesn’t matter where you live or what city you plan on visiting, one constant fear of all travellers is excessive roaming charges when using your cell phone abroad. 

Before you look at your roaming options, you need to make sure your cell phone is travel friendly. First, check to see if you have a multi-band (cellular frequency) phone. This is a standard feature these days with smart phones but if you’re using an older phone, you’ll need to see if your specific model is compatible with the country you’re visiting.

Even if your phone is compatible, you need to make sure that it’s unlocked so you can access other networks. Cell phones are normally locked to the mobile provider you purchased it from but for a small fee, you can usually have it unlocked directly from your service provider.


5 Ways to keep your roaming charges low:

Local SIM – Generally speaking, purchasing a local prepaid SIM when you arrive is your cheapest option. Since there are multiple cellular providers in each country, it’s important to keep in mind that local SIM cards are usually country specific so you may need to keep purchasing SIMs as you travel.

SIM Sticker KnowRoaming’s SIM sticker is arguably the easiest way to travel these days with your cell phone. The one time SIM sticker application will give you access to up to 85% off voice and data charges in over 200+ countries. Credit is loaded directly through the app so you’ll always know exactly how much you’re spending. Once you return home the SIM sticker automatically switches you back to your home network. Get 50% of the KnowRoaming SIM sticker and receive a $5 credit when using promo code: BARCHO954

International SIM card – Still incredibly popular with business travellers, international SIM cards will give you mobile service in most countries at a rate up to 85% off compared to standard roaming charges. Simply swap out your SIM whenever you travel and you’ll be instantly connected. OneSimCard and World Sim are the most popular brands; check out their websites to find out exactly what you’ll be paying when you’re roaming.

Pocket WiFi -The odds are, when you’re travelling, all you care about is having data available. In major cities like London, San Francisco, and Seoul, Wi-Fi is easily accessible but it’s not fair to expect that kind of service in every city you visit. In Japan, most hosts offer free pocket Wi-Fi when you book with them but if you’re travelling across the country, you’re better off renting your own device through Global Advanced communications. Pocket WiFi is also available in other countries through Tep Wireless.

Roaming Plan – All of the above options may intimidate people who’re not so tech savvy, fortunately, there’s still an incredibly easy option available to you. Most mobile providers offer some kind of roaming plan that you can purchase, however, they’re usually expensive and they may not be available in every country you’re visiting. You’ll need to check with your mobile provider to find out if what they’re offering works with your travel plans.


Barry Choi is a personal finance and budget travel expert at @Money We Have Money We Have. He has been quoted by media in Canada and the United States including The Financial Post, The Toronto Star, Business Insider, The Globe and Mail, and has appeared on HuffPost Live. You can follow him on Twitter @barrychoi

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