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Phone Use Abroad


Paper airplane phone


Phone Use Abroad 


Make Sure Your Phone Will Work in Your Destination

  • Check the phone's user manual or contact your carrier's customer support to see if your phone is marketed as "unlocked" and "GSM". "CDMA" phones usually will not work outside the US or on other carriers.
  • Because of high costs, many cell companies don't enable international roaming.
  • If you know that you have a phone that will work around the world ("unlocked"), you can contact your carrier to enable roaming for a fee.

Check for International Roaming Packages

  • Using your phone overseas can be very expensive, and can be hundreds of dollars for a one or two week vacation. Many plans don't even include calls, texts, or data while traveling internationally.
  • Check to see whether your cell company has any packages designed for international use. Although still higher than your usual phone bill, these plans are could by cheaper than some "pay as you go" rates. 

Find Out if it's Unlocked

  • If you have an unlocked GSM smartphone, you can avoid roaming charges by removing your existing cell company's SIM card, and replacing it with one from a local company in your destination.
  • The card itself will cost a few dollars, and only $20 worth of credit can last a couple of weeks. 

Turn Off Cell Data (and Use Wi-Fi Instead)

  • Turn off your cellular data before you board the plane to your destination, and leave it off until you get back to the United States.
  • Most hotels, cafes, restaurants, etc. provide free/cheap Wi-Fi that you can use while abroad.

Use Google Voice or Skype Instead of Making Calls

  • If you're using Wi-Fi or data, you should use apps like Skype, WhatsApp, or Google Voice when you want to contact people back home. These apps let you talk or text for free or cheap to anybody around the world.

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