When you’re going abroad, you want to be able to use your cell phone without hassle. Ideally, you should be able to connect to and browse the internet in the most cost-effective way. We’ve listed some top tips for using your cell phone abroad.

Use WiFi

To avoid expensive roaming charges while abroad, try to use any local WiFi networks as much as you can, rather than your personal data. Most major towns and cities will have at least somewhere where you can take advantage of free WiFi – libraries, cafes, public transport services, and shopping malls are just some examples of public places where you can usually connect to the internet free of charge. Your place of accommodation is likely to also have a WiFi network that you can use.

Adjust settings

You want to rely on free WiFi coverage whenever you can, but always make sure that you switch your data roaming off, just to be safe. You should be able to find this in your phone’s settings.

Cell phones will often attempt to connect to the nearest signal automatically, which can end up costing you a lot of money while you’re completely oblivious. You then return home to find a massive mobile bill that you never knew you had. Avoid this by making sure your automatic updates are switched to ‘off’.  

Download before you go

While you can rely on free WiFi coverage, it’s still a good idea to download certain apps before you leave, so that you’re prepared for all eventualities. For instance, Google Maps can be used offline, so could be a life-saver if you’re lost while exploring a foreign wilderness. 

It’s also a good idea to download apps or files, such as puzzles or films, for when you’re bored and you don’t have any internet, for instance while travelling on public transport that doesn’t offer WiFi.

Downloading apps on your cell phone is particularly useful if you’re a gamer and you’re on the road. Apps, such as the Mr Green app for smartphones, will give you a good quality gaming experience while you’re on the go. Likewise, you might want to create a playlist, which will also keep you entertained during long journeys.

Most importantly, download any essential documents, such as travel insurance or other official forms, to your phone just in case you need to show them and you don’t have any connection.

Stay connected

When it comes to cell phone speed and connectivity strength, it obviously depends on where you go. Usually the most cost-effective way to stay in touch via your phone when abroad is to use a locally-bought SIM plan. As long as your phone settings are turned to ‘unlocked’, the card should be relatively straightforward to install. Most new SIMs, wherever you are in the world, will have step-by-step instructions on how to use them. Local SIM cards can usually be bought in supermarkets or grocery stores in most places. Some vendors, particularly in areas popular with backpackers and tourists, will fit your new SIM card into your phone free of charge.


Obviously, your cell phone charger is going to be high up on your list of travel essentials. We’ve all been there – you’re sending an important message while you’re out and about , when your phone suddenly dies on you. It’s extremely frustrating when that happens in your home country, let alone when you’re in a foreign place where you can’t speak the local language and you don’t know your way around. 

A portable cell phone charger is a must if you’re going abroad and should be part of your most basic emergency supply kit. Many portable chargers are compact enough to keep in your hand luggage or pocket and can keep your phone going for several hours.


Using your cell phone while visiting another country should be hassle free and simple. Hopefully with our advice, you can get the best out of using your phone abroad. 

Photo via Unsplash




I've been writing since 2008 about a wide range of topics. I also love making furniture in my spare time, and birdwatching with my wife near our home in southern England.

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