In our daily lives most of us are used to being constantly connected to other people either via facebook, text messages, email, phone, social networking sites or direct contacts. However, when we go traveling or move abroad a lot of friends and family might feel like you’re going to be disconnected for a while.
Thankfully, some inventions of modern technology made things easier these days, as there are many tools and hacks to stay connected all the time and don’t spend a fortune on it.
Options for staying connected abroad:
I remember when I moved to the US for the first time my mom told me to buy a few calling cards. Yes, you heard it right… back in the day we all used prepaid calling cards for public and stationary phones to save on long distance calls. While some people still use them, in the era of smartphones that might not be the smartest form of communication, simply because finding a public phone might be a challenge and it can get annoying.
The simplest way of being able to call and text everyone from your smartphone is obviously paying roaming charges. But not every provider is as nice as American T-Mobile which gives people free internet worldwide, and you might be up with some enormous charges on your account. Trust me, I’ve done this before and would never pay for roaming again.
However, one way to pay less for roaming is placing a KnowRoaming sticker on your SIM that can save you up to 85% on data and texts. For just $7.99 you can get unlimited data in more than 80 countries. It’s quite a steal, isn’t it?
Rent a TEP wireless portable wifi device
You can easily rent a portable mobile device, such as Tep, in many countries. You can carry it in your pocket or bag and connect up to 3 devices at a time. I used it in Japan and Mexico and it almost never failed me. The best part is that you only pay local fees and get the device for free.
*** Now you can get 10% off on purchasing a new TEP device if you use “AnnaEverywhere” code at checkout! Happy browsing! ***
Using Public Wifi
Free wifi is perfect if you can get it, but it’s not something that you can always rely on, especially in some countries. Although free wifi is getting better around the globe if you’re heading slightly off the beaten track it’s less likely you are to find it. Moreover, as Snapchat is getting more and more popular if you’re sending your snaps offline and upload them on wifi you won’t be able to place any geofilters.
How to find free wifi in a new city? There is an app called MandicMagic that have been working for me. Check the number of WiFi networks on the place you’re going in advance as this will be dependent on the popularity in each country/region to be safe.
Unlock Your Phone
Whether you can find free wifi or connect your phone in any way you should try to unlock your smartphone as soon as possible. Unlocking the phone isn’t illegal, so you don’t have to worry about it, this is simply going to allow you to work with other SIM cards on other carriers. Buying a local SIM when you arrive at your destination is the cheapest way to get online.
While many cell phones include GSM, not many are unlocked. A locked GSM phone means you are locked into using your provider’s service, meaning you cannot use an international SIM card. It happened to me when I thought I bought an unlocked phone from Amazon and unfortunately, it wasn’t compatible with a US carrier.
Different Ways of Communicating
After you unlocked your phone, there are various ways of communicating. The most popular apps you might need are:
- Skype: Almost everyone knows Skype by now as it allows you to call between two Skype accounts or spend cents on calling from Skype to landline. It’s totally worth it when your friends live far away.
- Whatsapp: Popular in Europe, Whatsapp isn’t as well known in the US due to free unlimited texts. Whatsapp allows you to send direct messages with anyone who has the app.
- Viber: Viber is similar to Whatsapp, but allows you to make voice calls using a phone number and the app.
Start a Travel Blog?
While you might be traveling or living abroad for a while you can also open a travel blog. It doesn’t have to be your full-time job, but can work as a simple diary for your friends and family. Find out how to start a travel blog here.
Wednesday 31st of August 2016
Roaming fees are crazy expensive these days, so I would definitely not recommend them either. Thanks for providing the free apps. If you know you're going to be in a place with WiFi, these apps might be the best option for you! Thanks for sharing!
Wednesday 13th of July 2016
I didn't know there were so many options! My sister unlocked her phone when traveling to Ireland and she had a really hard time doing that. Our phone company made it difficult and she kept having to jump through hoops.
Did you know T-Mobile offers calls, text, and data to anywhere in US, Canada, and Mexico without extra charges? It was a life saver last time I visited Montreal.
Wednesday 13th of July 2016
Yes, T-Mobile's new service is awesome BUT... it's only good for Americans ;)
Tuesday 5th of July 2016
Great tips! It wasn't just once I travelled abroad and discovered I lost all my ways to connect with my family, panicked and went in a search for coffee shops with wi-fi as a way to connect with them and tell them I travelled safe. So these tips are a real life savour for me. Thanks a lot for sharing them!
Tuesday 5th of July 2016
Glad you liked my tips for staying online when abroad!
Tuesday 28th of June 2016
I love these tips- staying connected can be tricky while in an unfamiliar place!
Jennifer Cooper @ Travelbllgr
Saturday 18th of June 2016
Great tips - I didn't know any of these until reading this article! I will have to take a closer look at knowroaming next time I am going travelling, and definately downloading the free wifi finding apps!
Sunday 19th of June 2016
Glad it helped :)