Sometimes people are so nervous about using their iPhone internationally that they simply shut the whole device down and never touch it their whole trip, terrified of coming home to an astronomically high phone bill because they dared to play Words with Friends.
Luckily, more people now understand that it’s absolutely fine to use your iPhone when you’re traveling internationally, but yes, you’ll want to be careful about HOW you use it to avoid that huge phone bill.
If you’d prefer not to travel with an iPhone that’s basically nothing more than a calculator, here are a few suggestions for traveling internationally with your iPhone …
1. Talk to your mobile carrier about using your iPhone internationally
Start by calling your carrier and telling them about your trip. (Uh, like the cities you’ll be visiting — not your detailed itinerary.) Ask them if they offer service in your destination country, AND ask them if the service will be decent. (It might be terrible, depending on the location.)
You can see what kind of traveling data package your phone carrier will offer, but you won’t want to accept it right out of the gate. (You might be drastically overpaying.) More on that in a minute!
2. Use a prepaid international SIM card in your iPhone
Some travelers take the old-fashioned route of unlocking their iPhone’s SIM card slot (or asking their provider to do it) and picking up a prepaid SIM card when they arrive at their destination.
This means you’ll have local data, but no access to your real number (it’s stuck on the SIM card you just took out of your iPhone) until you switch the cards back, so be sure not to lose it!
3. Use an eSIM package when you travel internationally with your iPhone
Sure, we’re a bit biased, but we really do think this is the best option. Instead of messing with physical SIM cards, an eSIM is a software-based version that probably already exists on your iPhone — it just needs to be activated.
Here at aloSIM, we specialize in showing you ALL of your options so you can shop around and see which package is the best fit. The plans are flexible and affordable, you never have to worry about going over your limit, and you only pay for the data you need.
Best of all, there’s no need to visit a store in person (either at home, or in your destination country). You can shop aloSIM for eSIM packages and activate them right on your device from anywhere in the world, and then they’re ready to use.
While you’re traveling, you can call, text, and browse like a local, all using your eSIM. Your phone will work normally, and you will NOT be racking up ridiculous data charges because you’re using a new eSIM package, rather than your regular cellular carrier.
Once you’re back home, a few taps on your screen is all it takes to switch back to your primary SIM. It’s that easy!
Not interested in any mobile data? Okay, but how about WiFi calling?
If none of these options feel like a fit for you, there’s always the option of shutting down your phone’s ability to use data entirely. (Tap “Settings,” tap “Cellular,” toggle off “Cellular Data” and turn “Cellular Data Options” to “Roaming Off.”)
By turning off your data, of course, you’re at the mercy of the nearest WiFi network. Lots of apps will work just fine, but if you’d still like to make phone calls and send texts, you can! Our friends at Hushed can hook you up with a temporary phone number that will let you make and receive phone calls (and texts!) using a local phone number on your very own iPhone. WiFi calling is free, safe to use, and super convenient.
Now, a temporary phone number is great for calling and texting, but remember that it does NOT take the place of a mobile data package. Watching videos, Googling something, getting directions in a map app, checking your email, downloading songs, scrolling social media, etc. all require either paid data or a free WiFi connection.
No matter which option you choose for using your iPhone internationally, don’t forget to bring the proper adapter so you’re able to keep it charged when you’re traveling. The only good phone is a working, charged phone.