Smartphone Travel Tips to Save Your Data Plan


If you’re a modern-day traveler, it’s likely that your smartphone goes wherever you go. Not only do smartphones contain your maps, photos and travel apps, they keep you in contact with friends and family while you’re away.


After taking numerous trips, phone in hand, I’ve picked up a few helpful smartphone travel tips that make traveling with your device easier on your data plan and your wallet. Here are my top smartphone travel tips every savvy traveler should know before their next trip.

Curb Your Data Usage

Anyone who’s experienced a data overage knows how much carriers love to charge you for going even a few megabytes over. Since burning through your cellular data is even more likely when you travel, it’s important to be cognizant of how, and how much you use your phone.

If you’re not leaving the country, use these smartphone travel tips to curb your data usage (and your phone bill) on your next trip:

  • Turn off data roaming in your phone’s settings.
  • Turn off cellular data for any apps you’re not using.
  • Make use of free messaging apps like Skype and Google Hangouts for video communication (but only when you have a wi-fi connection). This brings me to my next tip…

Make Smart Use of Wi-Fi

Wi-fi is always your friend when you travel, and taking advantage a wireless connection is another great way to curb your cellular data usage and save money. When on a wi-fi network, make sure to:

  • Get all your browsing done while on hotel wi-fi. This goes for replying to emails, scrolling through Facebook, uploading to Instagram, and so on.
  • Take screenshots. Open up Google Maps while on wi-fi and take screenshots of specific routes you will be traveling. Refer to your screenshots instead of repeatedly loading up the app (and using data) every time you need the map.


Plan Ahead When Going Abroad

If you’re traveling out of the country, planning ahead can save you a lot of headache when it comes to using your phone abroad. Use these smartphone travel tips to ensure you choose an appropriate and cost-effective plan for your next overseas adventure.

Set a Budget. You’ll first need to decide what you’re willing to pay to use your phone abroad.

Research Your Options. Looking into different plans and solutions based on your travel needs will help you pick the best option for your budget.

  • International Roaming Plans from your carrier are often the simplest solution. Keep in mind many carriers charge premium rates for international roaming. If you won’t be using your phone extensively during your travels, you may want to consider other options such as…
  • The SIM Card Solution. Many international travelers use a pay-as-you-go sim card, which allows you to use local cellular service. This involves calling your carrier to unlock your phone, then swapping out SIM cards for the duration of your trip. (Learn more about unlocked phones here). Most carriers will agree to an unlock request for international travelers, but it’s always smart to check before you go. SIM cards or kits vary in price by country, and you’ll have to purchase a separate card for each country you visit. The cost will run you anywhere from under $10 to upwards of $50.


  • The Wi-Fi Hotspot Solution. An even simpler alternative to a SIM card is buying a pay-as-you-go wireless hotspot from a carrier abroad. This way, you can use wi-fi and move around. Keep in mind wi-fi is not without its problems. Calls may drop more easily over VOIP / wi-fi, however it’s a great option for travelers that need to use their phones less frequently. If you are able to rent a hotspot (versus buying one), it can save you even more dough.
  • The Prepaid Phone Solution. While a prepaid or temporary phone may not always be the best option for business travelers, it could be perfect for those on vacation. A prepaid phone allows you to use local service without having to unlock your personal phone or mess with SIM cards or roaming plans.

Be Confident In Choosing Your Plan

If you don’t do your homework on SIM cards and calling plans before your trip, vendors can and will try to upsell you on the option that makes them the most money. By doing research before you go, you’ll be equipped to select the most efficient and cost-effective plan for your travel needs. Nice going, savvy traveler!

In the market for a new phone for an upcoming trip? Check out our smartphone deals to find the perfect device for your needs. And be sure to let me know about your best smartphone travel tips in the comments below!

Author: Daniel

Daniel lives by his wits in the remotest wilds of Montana. (Actually, he lives in a cozy downtown apartment with his wife and two cats.) When he's not shopping for deals he enjoys reading, writing, blogging, documentaries and frequent walks.