Communication Topics / Cell Phones Abroad

Cell Phones Abroad

This may come as a shock...

but there's a pretty good chance your cell phone won't work abroad. We understand that life without a fully functioning phone seems bleak and unimaginable, but we're here to help.

Stick to Wifi

You can turn off the cellular data on your phone (usually under "Settings"). This will allow you to keep using your phone for photos, time, notes, etc. without racking up international charges.

Usually, you'll be able to connect to Wi-Fi at hotels, hostels, homestays, and on campus. This will give you the chance to upload photos, check in with parents (via Facebook, iMessage, or What's App but not actual SMS texting), and send all those pending snapchats (yes, you can take snaps when you're out and then send them later).

There are a ton of apps that will run without data or Wi-Fi. Clickto learn more.

Payphones StockSnap

International Calling Plans

  • Contact your cellphone provider. Tell them where you’re going and for how long, and ask if they have a plan that will let you use your phone in that country.
  • Remember to ask about the cost for data, calls, and texting usage.
  • Overseas plans can be expensive, and it’s easy to rack up a hefty bill without realizing it. (Not that we’re talking from personal experience or anything)
  • This can be a good option if you’re going on shorter program (under 2 weeks)

Buying a Phone or SIM Card in Country

Should you buy one or the other? When should you buy it?

Buying a Phone
  • If you're going to be abroad for more than a few weeks, it may make financial sense to buy a phone when you get there.
  • Many countries have inexpensive prepaid or pay-as-you-go options similar to those you'll find in Walmart or Target.
  • Researching this is easy - google "pay-as-you-go phones in (name of country)"
  • Tip: If you get a new phone, write the phone number on a slip of paper, tape it ot the back of the phone, and write it on your UK emergency card.
Buying a Local SIM Card
  • To start, a SIM card is found in most smart phones and it's a small circuit board that communicates with your carrier.
  • Once you arrive in country, you might be able to buy a prepaid local SIM card that can be inserted in your U.S. phone.
  • This is usually a very cost effective option, but be sure to do lookup different prices and options in the country/region your visiting.
  • You may need to unlock your phone (not just with your passcode), so contact your carrier and tell them that your traveling abroad.

Your To-Do List

- Follow the research tips throughout this page, and come up with a plan. - Ask your program provider what most students choose to do. - Talk to other UK students who went on your program and see what they suggest. - Staying connected is great, but take some time to unplug and immerse yourself in the culture. Afterall, that's what you're going for, right?