How to Use Your Phone Abroad: Tips for International Travel

How To Use Your Phone Abroad

In this day and age, getting around without your reliable phone in your back pocket is virtually impossible. Maps, streaming, instant messaging, and countless other functionalities… Well, all these things are packed on your phone, ready to pop up and be used until you dry out the battery.

On the downside, we are also living in times when the tech has become predominantly cloud-based and depends on fast internet as well as local infrastructure. So, if you don’t put some time into preparations, each trip abroad turns your phone into a glorified brick with a high-resolution camera.

Well, as we said – this happens only if you don’t put some thought into preparations. Let us take a look then at some of the ways to ensure your can use your phone abroad when you pass the border.

Buy a reliable power bank

This is your Traveling Abroad 101. The fact is that modern phones use very robust chipsets and feature high-resolution displays which usually burn through to regular 3000 to 5000 mAh batteries well under 24 hours. And, keeping in mind you will probably do a lot of shooting, using maps, and translating foreign languages, you can see why having a reliable power bank with you is an absolute must. Fortunately, the market is stacked with rock-solid, affordable units that will meet these goals. Some of them also come built into the neat anti-theft backpacks so you solve two big traveling issues at the same time.

Download everything you can

By that, we mean maps, music, documents, ebooks, and all other things you intend on using over the course of your travel. The good news is that this option is becoming widely available across the board, so no matter whether we are talking about your favorite Spotify playlist or the map of Budapest, you can keep them stored on the device. YouTube, everyone’s favorite pastime, now allows a similar option, albeit once you upgrade to a Premium subscription. Also, media played from the device consumes far less power than data streaming, so you will make the battery last longer as well.

Get yourself a local SIM card

This is yet another move that now makes the essential part of modern traveling. Hoping from one Wi-Fi hotspot to another is simply too taxing and prevents you from discovering new things on the go. Having easy data access and a way to contact the local services will make your life countless times simpler. So, let’s say you are traveling to the USA from abroad. Simply check the web for the local providers and you can stay connected in the USA with the best eSIM plans you can hope for. And this works coast to coast, no matter which state you visit. It’s just like using your device in your home country.

Invest in a noise-canceling headset

Traveling abroad usually entails spending quite a lot of time in planes, buses, trains, and other forms of transport. If you are surrounded by loud people (and, most likely, you will be) these long hours can become even longer and taxing. No reason to worry, though. Just put some money into a decent noise-canceling headset and you will be able to enjoy music, gaming, or Netflix without hearing or bothering other people. These devices can prove to be very useful in getting around the cities as well. If you are following voice-guided navigation it is in your best interest to be able to hear the instructions.

Take care of the travel adapters

People would assume we would figure these things out by now, right? Especially, taking into account that we are living in a time of universal technologies like HDMI and Type-C. Well, the power adapters are not so fortunate, and different countries can have wildly different ideas about how these simple tools should look like. Do your best to get all the varieties you can since you can never know just when and where you will need to charge your phone abroad. This is a comparably low investment, so be sure to invest in quality goods. You don’t want to burn your devices because you hooked them on poor hardware.

Back everything up

This will prove to be beneficial for several reasons. First, you are traveling abroad. Your phone can be misplaced, damaged, stolen, or whatever grim scenario crosses your mind. Backing everything up will save your precious photos, digital copies of the documents, and other vital files from the finite oblivion and keep them available on your other devices. Second, cloud backups make the transfer of files so much easier. So, instead of dragging dozens of photos to your preferred storage, you can store them in a safe place from the get-go. These data transfers can be easily tackled by the local Wi-Fi hubs.


Well, that about sums it up – the six tips that will help you to keep using your phone in an optimal manner even when you are traveling aboard. And, you will need to leverage most of these options sooner than later so be prepared. Our lives have become very phone-centric. Unfortunately, foreign ground presents a lot of obstacles for those lives to continue uninterrupted. Navigation, business, correspondence, social media… All these things need to keep flowing even while you are traveling. So, keep in mind everything we have covered so far to make this transition as smooth as it gets.

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Paul Tomaszewski is a science & tech writer as well as a programmer and entrepreneur. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of CosmoBC. He has a degree in computer science from John Abbott College, a bachelor's degree in technology from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, and completed some business and economics classes at Concordia University in Montreal. While in college he was the vice-president of the Astronomy Club. In his spare time he is an amateur astronomer and enjoys reading or watching science-fiction. You can follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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