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How to Stay Connected Abroad

By Sara | February 8, 2016

Traveling the world is amazing, but what about staying in touch with everyone at home? In the digital age, it’s easier than ever to keep in touch with friends and family, but sometimes the options seem endless or confusing. Consider this your ultimate guide on how to stay connected while traveling.

Phones

If you live in the USA and plan to frequently travel, T-Mobile is your best option. T-Mobile has a Simple Choice Global plan that gives you 2 GB of data per month as well as unlimited talk and text in the US, Mexico, and Canada for $50/month.

If you travel outside of those countries, you still have the 2 GB per month and unlimited text, and calls jump to 20 cents per minute. Your phone bill stays the same every month, and if you go over your data allotment, T-Mobile will give you 2-G speeds instead of charging you anything extra.

No overage fees, no hidden charges, and no switching SIM cards. T-Mobile automatically activates on a partner network when you arrive in a new country, and you’re good to go. I didn’t believe that a carrier could truly offer something like this and was skeptical all the way until I actually paid my first bill abroad, but it is that easy.

Just make sure that when you switch to T-Mobile, you buy one of their phones or bring your own from a compatible carrier. Sorry, Sprint users!

For those who don’t want to pay $5o per month, you can save money in many countries by buying an international SIM from local cell carrier shops. The downside to this is that you’ll arrive without data and will need to navigate to a carrier store every time you switch countries.

For those that use this method, download an offline maps app so you at least have navigation prior to getting data.

Social Media

With data, you should be set to use social media sites from your phone as usual. However, if you opt not to do this, you’ll need wifi to use Facebook, Twitter, etc. The simplest answer is to book accommodation that has wifi and primarily use it there. Most hostels and Airbnb’s have internet, and many cities have coffee shops with free wifi.

Apps

There’s a ton of apps that can help you keep in touch while you travel, and each traveler has their own preference. Here’s a few that we like:

WhatsApp: WhatsApp automatically pulls your phone contacts that are using WhatsApp, so you can easily message anyone. Texts and calls are free over wifi and this app is widely used around the world.

Facebook Messanger: Send messages for free over wifi, and make video and audio calls for free over wifi or a data plan.

FaceTime: For iOS and Mac users only. Over wifi or data, make video and audio calls for free.

Skype: Works on any platform, phone, and computer. Users can make video and phone calls over wifi and data. For those that need to call non cell phone numbers, Skype credit can be purchased by the minute at a lower rate than many phone plans.

There are countless ways to stay in touch while traveling, and we’d love to hear your favorites! We hope these tips will help give you confidence that you can travel and stay connected with ease.