Can I Use My Mobile Phone on My Trip Overseas?

page 48 lower rightWhile there are plenty of travelers who enjoy using a vacation as a chance to unplug and go offline for awhile, for many others, staying in touch is essential.

Whether or not you can use your own mobile phone when you travel depends on a number of factors. It depends on what kind of phone you have, who your cellular carrier is, and where you’re planning to travel. Many cell phones by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon will work just find abroad. Still others will work, but only if you switch out your SIM card for a European model.

If being in touch by phone is important to you while you travel, you’ll likely have a few different choices for what to do. Here are a few options:

  • Bring your phone and pay roaming charges

If you’ve done the research and know your phone will work in your travel destination, you can always just bring it with you and pay the roaming charges. Be sure to check with your phone company before you leave to find out what those charges will be—depending on where you travel, you may end up paying $2 per minute and 50 cents or more per text message. This could be a good option if you don’t plan on spending much time on the phone and simply want to have it there as a backup.

Tip: If you do travel abroad with your phone, and you have a smartphone, remember that calls and texts aren’t the only thing you could get charged for! Data charges can be whoppers, so be sure to adjust your phone settings so it’s not leeching data charges the whole time you’re away.

If you plan on traveling for less than 21 days, the Verizon Global Travel Program is an ideal solution. You’ll have access to all of your contacts, your phone number and voice mail will travel with you, and you’ll have voice and data options in more than 200 countries. If you’re already a Verizon customer, you won’t get any separate bills—the travel program simply bills to your regular account.

  • Buy a SIM card at your destination

This is especially easy if you’re traveling to Europe. As long as your phone is unlocked—and even if you have an infamously locked iPhone (if you do want to travel with an iPhone, you may want to read this Mac World article), it’s likely that if you call and ask, your carrier will unlock it for you if it’s an older model—you can often buy a SIM card abroad. They often come pre-paid with a phone number and credit for calls.