5 Easy Tips For Staying Connected While Traveling Abroad

5 Easy Tips For Staying Connected While Traveling Abroad

There are many reasons why we choose to travel. From escaping comfort zones to learning about new cultures and making memories, travel affords many of us the opportunity to try new things and learn valuable lessons.

But despite technological advances, a harsh reality all travelers must still face is how to remain connected and access the internet daily once we’ve departed from the confines of our native telecom networks.

Avid travelers know it’s no easy task to stay connected while traveling abroad. The notion of disconnecting and unplugging while traveling may be romantic, but sooner than later, you’ll find that being abruptly disconnected is more of an inconvenience than a whimsical idea.

If you’re looking to splurge this summer and explore some foreign shores, here are five easy tips for staying connected overseas, all of which avoid the potentially astronomical roaming bill when you return home.

1. Find free Wi-Fi hotspots

Without a doubt, the internet is an important part of our lives. This is particularly true when traveling as many turn to social media to document their overseas adventure. The luxury of international data plans is often out of reach for many, so a great alternative is knowing where to find Wi-Fi while on the road.

Internet usage worldwide continues to increase in demand year after year. The internet has become vital to our daily lives. And with access to Wi-Fi expected by consumers, many countries offer internet access to the public to satisfy demands.

Public hotspots can be found in most developed and developing countries. Doing research before you leave will inform you on the best places to access public Wi-Fi hotspots. But when in doubt, most countries will provide free Wi-Fi in places like public transport terminals, hotels (although these are often password protected), and international coffee and restaurant chains (think Starbucks and McDonald’s).

2. Use apps

Many apps these days, like the popular texting app Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger, come with features that enable online calls. This means that you never have to tap into your phone’s cellular plan (avoiding those pesky roaming charges) to make and receive calls. Simply connect to a public hotspot and keep your friends and family abreast of how your travel is going.

But a more innovative service that benefits international travelers is Wi-Fi calling. Offered only by a limited number of telecom companies in the world, Wi-Fi calling allows you to make calls and send SMS inside and outside your country through just a Wi-Fi connection.

Meanwhile, apps can also be used for a variety of things. Certain apps, like Google Maps or MAPS.ME, provide downloadable offline maps, ensuring you never get lost while traveling through a foreign country. Other apps can be used to uncover Wi-Fi hotspots based on your current location.

3. Buy a local SIM card

Another solution that ensures you avoid paying excessive roaming charges is to do what the locals do and buy a local SIM card. Many countries today have SIM cards designed to cater to travelers, ensuring the ability to remain connected is readily available to arriving passengers.

Swapping out your current SIM card for a local one can have considerable benefits. While every country is different, you know exactly how much you’re expected to pay when acquiring a prepaid line or service. There are no hidden fees or roaming charges, and re-subscribing to prepaid services is often hassle-free.

Local SIM cards provided by many telecoms often come with unlimited internet bundles to encourage connectivity. Just remember, your phone will need to be unlocked to access services provided by local SIM cards.

4. Bring a mobile hotspot

If you have certain data security concerns surrounding public hotspots or require faster internet connections than currently provided, it may be time to consider buying a mobile hotspot.

Mobile hotspots enable you to access reliable Wi-Fi wherever you go without ever having to rely on public hotspots. And with 4G LTE networks nearing global saturation, mobile hotspot connectivity is faster and more reliable than ever. Mobile hotspots can also be used across all Wi-Fi enabled devices, ensuring you’re always connected.

5. Check for international roaming packages

In the unfortunate instance that your phone is not unlocked, many telecom carriers provide packages designed for international travel. Many companies have international roaming plans for their customers to help them stay connected to many popular travel destinations. And unlike buying a local SIM card, you get to keep the same number, so your contacts can still reach you.

Other workarounds

There are other options available to those looking to stay connected beyond Wi-Fi-enabled devices. One old-school, offline method of keeping in touch while abroad is sending a postcard or letter. It’s nostalgic, and a great way to keep in touch when you head off the beaten track.

A little preparation goes a long way when traveling overseas. By planning ahead and getting helpful tips on using roaming services, you can ensure a great travel experience while avoiding any nasty roaming charges when you return.


Al-moottil P Antony is a C-Suite Executive Support Professional for Zain, a leading mobile and data services operator with a commercial footprint in 8 Middle Eastern and African countries.

Categories: Travel

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