You bought your round-trip plane ticket, your bags are packed, and you’re a day away from a three-week international trip. You’re excited to see new places, meet new people, and experience new things. But you’ve still got a lot of work to do before you leave, and you’re going to have to be diligent in your planning. Thanks to your iPhone, though, preparing for such a trip is now easier than ever.
This is your essential guide to traveling internationally with your iPhone. We’ll start with how your iPhone can help you in planning before you leave, and then show you how your iPhone can be your best travel tool to keep your trip as great as you imagined.
Avoid International Roaming Charges
Contact your carrier and see what international plans they offer. Since they tend to be on the expensive side, an alternative is to purchase a prepaid SIM card in your destination country. Prepaid SIM cards are affordable and they let you surf the web, make calls, and send texts. Finally, you always have the option to rely solely on WiFi, but double check to make sure cellular data and data roaming are off. Nothing will ruin your trip more than returning home to a four-figure cell bill because your iPhone was roaming the whole time.
Take Photos of Important Documents
Use your iPhone to take photos of your most crucial trip documents. That includes your passport, driver’s license, visa, plane tickets, and metro/rail passes. You should even email them to yourself. You’ll be happy you have a record of your passport when you realize you left it at that highly recommended Bavarian pub you hit up the night before.
When you’re traveling internationally, your phone is your lifeline. I mean, it’s always your lifeline, but even more so when visiting far-off places. Get yourself a durable iPhone case that’s not too bulky (you are traveling, after all), because a shattered screen on your third day backpacking from Mumbai to Kolkata is no bueno.
Alright, enough on the prep work. Here’s how you can use your iPhone to make your trip more exciting.
Immerse Yourself in the Native Tongue
Download Google Translate--it lets you type or speak into your phone and get an immediate translation. You can even use your iPhone’s camera to scan a foreign sign and have it converted into your language. Don’t be shy to bust it out when your Parisian waiter describes the fish as having a certain je ne sais quoi. Oh, did I mention it’s free?
Keep in Touch with Friends and Family
If your budget is limited and an international plan or a pre-paid SIM card is too expensive, an alternative is to download Skype and use it through WiFi instead of standard calling. You can make international phone calls through for pennies on the dollar and also text through Skype at relatively inexpensive rates. Need help with finding a WiFi spot? Go download the app Wifi Map—it tells you where the nearest public WiFi spots are and gives you the passwords to connect to them.
Take Quality Photos
There’s a lot to be said on this topic, and if you’re interested, check out our piece on how to take amazing photos with your iPhone. It will help you nail those shots of the Leaning Tower of Pisa like a pro.
iPhones are powerful tools that can simplify and enhance the traveling experience, but they’re only tools. Remember to get out from behind the screen; you’re there for the experience. Get out and soak in the surroundings and culture!