Why stay connected?
Staying in touch while travelling abroad and having access to important information while on the move is essential nowadays more than ever. Every aspect of our lives has changed dramatically in past decade or so due to rapid technology advances and travel is very much dependent on Internet technology and online resources. Booking a flight or a hotel, renting a car, buying attraction tickets, booking
a table in a restaurant, flagging a taxi, are all activities you can do from your mobile phone while having a coffee or walking around your favorite destination. Not to mention that you can check at any time weather forecast so you don’t waste your tour on a rainy day or transfer emergency money in case of urgent need.
Many functionalities of today’s smart phones can be emulated by tablets or laptops, but we are focusing on phones only as they are very convenient while on the move. But, in the end, it is your decision about how to stay connected while traveling.
Things to check before the trip
Keeping all above in mind, we can all agree that your mobile phone is the most important piece of electronics you are carrying with yourself while travelling, so you should take good care of it. The importance of mobile phones nowadays is not only for its core function – making phone calls, but for all smart phone features: camera, GPS, maps and navigation, Internet, apps, storage of files, ticket booking and storing and list goes on. Not to mention that you will probably want to update your Facebook status, your Instagram feed or to tweet latest adventures while on the move, s reliable smart phone is a must!
It is important to double check your phone before the trip, if there is enough storage space (you will definitely take some photos on the road!), if battery is reliable, if you have all necessary apps loaded, if you have all travel info loaded on it (tickets, booking references, maps, points of interests, etc) and if everything is loaded in the Cloud (Apple, Google, Microsoft). Phone is important, but data on it is even more important, so make sure you are backed up!
Today’s smart phones are loaded with features, storage and some insane quality cameras, but one thing they lack in functionality is long lasting battery, so please take some power bank with you to keep you running while you are live tweeting your latest adventures!
External battery is great solution while on the move, but once back to your accommodation you will probably want to recharge your phone, tablet, camera, etc and you will need reliable power source. Here are some recommendation for universal power adapter you can use in any country in the world:
If you are frequent traveler and you often go to countries that don’t have a roaming agreement with your phone provider, maybe it would be a good solution to purchase universal SIM – it works in many countries and gives you good value for money for calls and mobile data.
How to stay connected?
Mobile plan and mobile data
Every modern cellular phone will work in most of the networks around the world, only very old models might not be functioning well, but this is very rare exception, so if your phone is few years old or less, you are good to go!
If your mobile provider doesn’t have worldwide roaming plan or good roaming agreement in the destination country, you should consider buying local SIM card upon arrival. This looks like unnecessary expense and annoyance for the traveler, but advantages are many: relatively cheap, you can buy decent SIM package in the range of $10-$20 and be covered with local calls and mobile data while abroad; it is very useful to have local number if you need an emergency call (police, hospital, embassy, taxi); some providers enable possibility to have free calls between numbers so you will be able to communicate with your family, friends or other travel companions for free if you are traveling in a group.
The only downside would be handling of additional SIM card, i. e. replacing your own SIM from your phone (unless you have device with dual SIM option).
Another important thing about roaming with your mobile phone – when somebody is calling you from your home country (or elsewhere) while you are abroad, you will be also charged extra as this is how roaming charges work. So, be cautious when answering calls while you are abroad, this might cost you quite a bit. If you really need to answer the call, explain quickly to the caller that you are abroad so conversation can be as short as possible.
To be sure you don’t have huge bill waiting for you when you return, please contact your mobile provider and ask what type of roaming agreement they have with destination country carriers and what are the prices for using your mobile phone (and data package) abroad.
Free WiFi while abroad
If you need to make phone calls while abroad to friends and family back home, we recommend you use some phone app, such as Whatsapp, Viber, Telegram, Signal or similar, as you will virtually pay nothing for a call. Even if you don’t have roaming data plan or local SIM card, you can always use free WiFi in hotels, AirBnB, MCDonald’s or any restaurant or venue that provides WiFi during the visit. There is really no need to pay high roaming charges for this. This is one of the best ways of how to stay connected.
You can also search for free WiFi spots worldwide by using this website:
Wi-Fi Space – service to help find Wi-Fi access points anywhere in the world. The site collected and marked on the map coordinates of all points of access Wi-Fi. That you, being in any city, can quickly connect to the Internet. The map shows which point free, what the password, but from what point of no password.
We are all concerned about our privacy. We would like to share our precious moments with our family and friends, but we also don’t want to be monitored by unwanted person. As far as mobile phone is concerned, being connected online will sometimes give away your location, especially if you check-in online into restaurants, landmarks, museums, etc.
There is a one simple thing you can do when travelling if you don’t want to be seen – stay offline (switch off wifi, mobile data, data roaming, etc.) and connect only when you need to do something on the internet – send an email, make a phone call, check your flight schedule. Once you finish checking all these stuff, take yourself off line and you are safe!
Staying active on social media while travelling can be a good and a bad thing: good thing is – you are in touch with people you care for and exchange information and useful info in real time; bad thing – people who are not so close to you – your boss, your coworkers, neighbors, etc., might see this as an opportunity to hog your free time by engaging you into conversation you wouldn’t want to have while on vacation. So, keep the balance. We will write a separate post on how to handle social networks while on vacation, and will go there into more detail, so stay tuned.
Staying connected while traveling is important both for your own convenience and for peace of mind for ‘just in case’ situations. Going on a trip prepared well in this area will make your trip more enjoyable and stress free. You can also choose when and how much to be online by travelling, so you are in complete control of your online presence and your time. In the end, you are in charge of when and how to stay connected while you are traveling.