Last Updated on April 2, 2021
In today’s world, having a phone is basically a necessity.
Phones are our gateway to communication and discovery, particularly when you’re traveling.
If you’re like us, having a usable phone while abroad is a priority. You never know when you might need to call someone or when you need to access the internet with no WiFi in sight. So many people have different opinions on this topic, but here are our thoughts. For us, when we travel, our phones are a support tool to help streamline our travel. We appreciate and love the idea of disconnecting from our internet lives while traveling, so like having our phones available to look things up, not as much for social media use.
Travel Apps You Should Have
If you’re interested specifically in history, the Clio app uses your location to discover historic sites and museums around you! Clio puts history at your fingertips! As a user, you can edit and submit entries to Clio as a contributor. Read more about Clio here!
Rayka is the world’s first student review platform for those who are studying abroad! If you’re studying abroad, you’ll want access to the most interesting and unique things around you. Rayka lets you discover recommendations for students by other students! You can also join groups where you can connect with other students by interest, school, or organization. Rayka gives you ideas on bars, cities, parks, clubs, study spots, hiking trails, and things to do around you!
Of all the offline GPS and map apps I have used, Maps.me is still my favorite. Before you disconnect from data or Wi-Fi, download the map of your desired region. Once downloaded, you can use the map as if you’re online. You can make searches, save locations by dropping a pin and use the GPS all offline. It can also do a broad search of your area to find banks, ATMs, pharmacies, and restaurants. This is so helpful when you want to search for locations while offline. It is very easy to use and has helped me get around cities without having my data services turned on. Downloading the maps does not take up a lot of storage on your device and doesn’t drain your phone battery.
Google translate offers offline translating. Before you disconnect from data or wifi, download the language you want to translate and use the app like normal when offline. It’s so helpful!
For those who like to track have their flights via app, download your airline’s app for updates. Many of the apps even allow you to check in and access boarding passes.
Many of the larger cities in Europe have Uber services. Have it. Use it. and Experience the international Uber drivers.
The City Mapper app is great for using public transport. The app automatically detects your location and can route you to wherever you would like to go using public transit. The app tracks live bus and subway patterns, letting you know when the next bus or train will be arriving. While you are on the bus or train, it can track your stops to let you know when to get off or switch methods of transit. This app can only be used with cellular data services: however, if you know where you want to go, you can screenshot your route and follow the directions offline.
Guide to Using Your Phone Abroad
With smartphones as the major form of communication between people, cell phone providers have stepped up their game on international phone services. Compared to 6 years ago when I took my first international trip, I only had one option and that was to get a month-long international plan that still overcharged me!
Depending on the level of coverage you want, your cell phone provider will be able to help you. My provider, Verizon, offers international phone plans, pay by day plans, and SIM cards for international services. I choose to use the pay by day plan. Before departing on a trip, I contact Verizon and sign up for the service. The only information they need to know was the countries I will be visiting. For $10 a day, I can use the plan I have in the United States abroad. Each day is activated only when I turned my phone off airplane mode. This activates the 24-hour period of call, text, and data. For the days I only want to use WiFi in airplane mode, I am not charged. For me, this is the most convenient option. Airplane mode with Wifi is a godsend for people who are ok with not having phone service 100% of the time.