Ridiculous phone bills. Cracked screens. Water damage. Oh, the drama of taking your phone abroad.
Look, no one wants to come home from their summer vacation, having just spent all their holiday money, only to shell out for a massive phone bill or a new phone.
So, before you go away this summer, make a few simple preparations before you go…
1. Budget for roaming charges
Good news: thanks to the EU’s ‘roam like at home’ policy, you won’t have to pay roaming charges if you’re travelling within the European Union. This also includes Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein but not Switzerland.
With roam like at home, you won’t be charged extra for calls, texts or internet usage in any EU country, but only up to your normal limits of minutes, texts and data. If you go over, you’ll likely be charged extra. Exactly how much? Well, that’ll be up to your network operator.
Note: don’t take the mickey. Roam like at home is intended for occasional travellers. If you spend too long in the EU, your service provider may charge you extra.
Bad news: outside the EU, data roaming is charged as normal, and it can get extortionate if you’re not careful. A few years ago, a woman holidaying in South Africa downloaded a Neil Diamond album. Next thing she knew, she’d racked up a £2,600 phone bill. That would have really killed off her… Sunny Disposition. Too obscure? Never mind then.
So we're going to suggest that turning off your data roaming setting might be a good place to start. This'll make sure you don’t automatically connect to the local network provider when you’re abroad. You won't be cut off from the modern world though – you’ll just have to wait to get Wi-Fi. Speaking of…
2. Seek out Wi-Fi wherever you go
A few years ago it was a rarity to see a beachfront bar or restaurant with free Wi-Fi. But now, it’s almost a bit ridiculous the kind of places you can find free Wi-Fi overseas. So, when you’re out travelling, leave your data off and wait till you get Wi-Fi before using the internet.
We wouldn’t recommend using banking apps or anything else you wouldn’t want to compromise – just to be safe.
3. Take out phone and travel insurance
Travel insurance is affordable and an absolute life-saver when you need it, so make sure to take out a decent policy before you jet off.
That said, while a lot of travel insurance policies cover your phone, most of these policies aren’t comprehensive, and many other travel insurance policies rule them out entirely.
It can all get a bit confusing, so our advice is to take out specific mobile phone insurance that includes overseas travel in its policy. Then, choose a travel insurance that features mobile insurance too, just in case your phone goes missing with your luggage, if you are the victim of theft, of if someone manages to break into your phone to get into your online bank.
Whatever the case, remember that if worse comes to worst, you’ll probably have to pay an excess to replace your phone if its lost or damaged, so the best policy is always to take extra special care of your phone while you’re abroad.
4. Download your maps for later
If you’re getting sick of sitting by the pool and fancy exploring your new surroundings, you can avoid data drainage while you’re out and about by saving maps offline.
When you’re connected to a reliable internet signal, like the wireless one in the hotel, search for where you want to go on Google Maps, then clear the search bar and type in ‘OK Maps’ – you’ll then be presented with the option to save that area offline. Nice.
5. Backup before you pack up
Let’s assume you’re going to lose your phone or drop it in the sea. The last thing you want in that case is to lose all your precious memories.
Therefore, before you fly off, make sure to back up all your photos, videos, contacts, conversations and other data on your device to a cloud system (e.g. Dropbox or Google Drive) or an external hard drive.
6. Frequent flyer? Maybe time for something new…
The simple truth is that some smartphones are better for travelling than others. If you’re not sure your current model is cut out for your holiday pursuits, perhaps it’s time to try something new?
Bit of beach bum?
If you’re usually found by the beach or the pool, you’ll probably want something waterproof. Check out the range of waterproof phones.
Bear in mind, while most of these can withstand a splash or two, we wouldn’t advise leaving them in your bathing suit when you go for a swim…
Need a powerful camera?
If you’re always seeking out the best photo ops, you’ll want the best camera you can get your hands on. Our recommendation? The Samsung Galaxy S10 has a dual aperture, 12-megapixel camera plus an ultrawide 16-megapixel camera, plus a telephoto 12-megapixel for zooms… and it has intelligent scan facial recognition, 960fps super slow-motion video, plus 64GB of internal storage for all your memories.
Need something you don’t mind getting bashed about?
If your main phone is far too precious to risk taking abroad, you can always get a good-value second phone to handle the essentials. We've got a range of excellent phones – some a bit older, some purposely designed to be used and abused – that are ideal for travellers.
Got any smartphone travel tips of your own? If so, share them below.