Check with your mobile carrier BEFORE you leave the country on your options for international plans. Verify that the plan you choose covers all the countries you will be visiting, some plans may vary coverage.
Enrolling in an international plan will be more economical than paying international roaming charges. Talk rates on a pay per use plan can be as much as $1/minute and $2/MB! If you download new email, browse TikTok videos, or you use Google Maps to navigate, you can rack up serious charges on data downloads alone. In contrast, you can enroll on AT&T or Verizon's international day pass, which extends your current data/talk/text plan to include most countries. Check with your carrier as most carriers have similar plans in place.
You’ll be best off just enabling this for one device, then putting all others in Airplane Mode, and sharing connectivity via a hotspot on your connected device.
During Your Trip
Do a little phone management to streamline your usage and performance. Even if you have an unlimited data plan, depending on which country you are in, cell network performance can be variable.
- You’re only using essential apps - do you need all the games, Zillow, and Evite running in the background - probably not
- Maps - while this is a very useful app, it is highly data-intensive. Try to use it on Wi-Fi before you leave the hotel, then only on 4G when you get lost
- Email - this is a bandwidth hog. If you do not need immediate and constant access to email, set your email app to download only when you are using Wi-Fi (typically these apps are set to download once they receive each new email)
- Photo sync/backup - set to only sync/backup when on Wi-Fi
Staying for an extended period?
If you know ahead of time that you’ll be out-of-town for a while, consider buying a local SIM card and switching it out with your current one. Note, this ONLY works if your phone is unlocked from your mobile carrier.
- Pro: You will have significant calling and data allowances as your phone will be considered “local” to the area, at a fraction of the cost of a US-based roaming plan
- Con: People calling your regular cell phone will not know the new number and will not get through, although you could set up a forwarding to the local number. Depending on how many time zones you are away from home, this could be considered a Pro also
- Be mindful of your SIM card size if you choose this option. Is it nano, micro, or standard? There are adapters for each size, so when you talk to the local provider, make sure the size matches your current SIM or that it comes with an adapter tray. Or let the local phone shop swap the SIM out for you, then you can test if it works before you leave the store
Tip: Make sure you have the small tool your phone came with to swap the SIM card and be sure to store your original SIM somewhere safe for when you need to switch it back at home.
Use Wi-Fi only
Not interested in paying for international day passes or plans? Put your phone in airplane mode for the duration of the trip and only use it when connected to Wi-Fi. This has some clear limitations as you will not be able to use your phone as you are used to, but it will save you money.
While it might seem like a lot of prep work, you’ll thank yourself for doing it once you arrive at your final destination as you’ll have peace-of-mind knowing you’re connected. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Hybridge if you have any questions about the information we have presented. We are always happy to help! We can be reached via phone at (650) 421-2000 or via email at info(at)hybridge.com.
We wish you safe and happy travels!
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