Traveling abroad with your cell phone

Let's face it: You can't imagine getting through a day without your mobile phone. You depend on it to connect with friends, stay on schedule, follow (or ignore) the news, and access apps that make life easier. And we haven’t even talked about the games. So, if the idea of traveling without your phone is unthinkable, you'll need to do some prep work to make sure you can use it when you're overseas.

Cell companies around the world use different technologies and frequencies, so be sure to contact your service provider to make sure it will work overseas. Find out if your provider offers coverage where you're going and how much it will cost. Are there roaming fees? Does your plan support international data? If your device is unlocked, you may be able to purchase a SIM card at your destination. Or you might be better off just buying a disposable phone.

Do you need an international texting and data plan?

Using your phone overseas can be costly. To avoid nasty bill surprises when you get home, check to see what type of international texting and data plan your provider offers.

If you don't plan on using your phone while traveling, take a few steps to avoid unexpected charges. Your phone can rack up roaming or data fees even if you're not actively using the internet or apps that require data. To be safe, turn off the cellular data and roaming before you board the plane to your destination and leave it that way until you get home.

A word about Wi-Fi safety

In developed countries, many hotels and cafés offer free Wi-Fi. When using public Wi-Fi, remember that not all networks are secure. Change the settings on your phone so it doesn't automatically connect to a network. If you have to use an open, unsecured Wi-Fi connection, a thief could spy on the data you transmit.

Don't forget the charger

Plugs and sockets differ from country to country, so review the International Electrotechnical Commission guide to find out whether you need to bring an adapter for your phone charger. If your charger doesn't automatically switch voltage, you'll also need a voltage converter.

Protect your device

When traveling in a foreign country, avoid using your phone in busy areas. If you need to use it while you're out and about, stop into a café or store, and make sure you still have it before you leave. And, keep your phone and wallet in a slash-proof pack.

If a thief steals your phone, don't enter into an altercation. Your life is far more valuable than any device.

Take a real vacation

Posting photos to social media is part of the fun of traveling. So is checking in with friends back home. But consider turning your phone off and soaking in every moment of your trip, rather than experiencing things through a screen. Here's a radical idea: Use your trip as an opportunity to take a vacation from your phone and your always-connected lifestyle.

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