Using your phone abroad. Whichever provider you use, they will have different options for using your service away from home. Be sure to check in with your provider and see if there is an international package that you can pay a nominal fee for the time period that you need it for.
Wifi. Regardless of if you opt for an international service plan with your provider or not, wifi can get you a long way. On a three month trip, I relied solely on wifi for all of my phone needs — emailing, texting, social media, blogging and phone calls. Keep in mind that this was a viable option for me and the locations that I was traveling to. For the most part, I could find a wifi connection when I wanted one, but it was certainly not always convenient. In the moments that you find you need a wifi connection for something that you need at that moment, this is a real pain. The convenience of having an international data package, for many people, is worth the extra fee. Keep in mind that different locations fundamentally different accessibility to wifi. If the region that you’re traveling to is sparse on it’s wifi, perhaps you want to consider speaking with your service provider.
Something that you absolutely do not want to find yourself out is how expensive international roaming fees are. If you aren’t familiar with what this constitutes, let me provide you with some horror stories. From the e-magazine Conde Nast, “a New Zealand man was fired from his job for racking up a bill of over $23,000 on his company-issued cell phone during a three-week holiday in Sri Lanka. International roaming charges made up $23,350 of the bill, with just $6 spent on international calls and texts. Around 1.5GB of data was used.” You do not want to mess with these. Don’t do it. Pay attention to the kind of service you will need to cover you abroad, turn off the roaming on your phone. Don’t be caught without warning in this situation — it will ruin your vacation.
Backing up your photos. Speaking of horror stories, here’s another doozy for you. Three months, 13 countries and over 2,000 photos — GONE, without a trace. This happened to my travel companion three days before we were to fly home. Whether your phone incurs damage that causes it not to work, it’s stolen from you, or any other reason, there are ways that will allow the photos on your phone to stick around. There are so many options available when it comes to backing up pictures that there is really no excuse for this to happen to you. The best part about these programs is that once you have set them up, they virtually do all of the work — automatically updating the storage of your photos as you snap them. Options such as iCloud and Amazon have storage space for free and it will save you a massive headache should something happen to your device.
Charging your devices. Wherever you’re headed, be sure to check if you need an adapter for your chargers. There are several options that combine 4 different adapters into one item.
Additionally, if you know that you’ll be out for the day where there is no way to charge, there are portable charging devices that can power you up on the go. Do your research — some are better than others! This is a great option to keep you powered up for picture taking as well as using your phone for directions and keeping in touch.
Some tips for not draining your battery too quickly; make sure that you don’t have a lot of applications open and put your phone into airplane mode when you’re not using it. Combining airplane mode with accessibility to a mobile charger will help to keep you going throughout the day.
Cases and waterproofing. Protect your assets, ya’ll. If you’ll be on a beach vacation or somewhere tropical that you may be caught in the rain, this may be something you’ll want to think about. If you don’t want to lug your big camera around and just use your phone or tablet for the day — these waterproof cases are great.
Additionally, if you don’t use a sturdy case at home, you may want to beef it up for your trip. Consider a more secure case — it’s a real downer to break your phone on a trip and not be able to fix it until you return home.
Apps. There are some really life saving phone applications out there now and seemingly an app for everything. From offline maps so you don’t need to drain your battery to foreign language translators to help you out — there are all kinds of things to make your trip go a bit more smoothly.