Long Distance Relationships are killer. Ask anyone who knows someone who knows someone. They’ll tell you. But beyond the whole human relationship thing is how your traveling, networks, and data obstacles are affecting your relationship with your better better half: your phone.
Aside from figuring out that whole kilometer vs. miles thing or that theaters are now theatres, you’ll need to organize your phone strategy before you even think of packing. Comparing cell phone plans in Canada is the very first thing you'll want to do in order to see what kind of international benefits and plans are available.
Who is your carrier?
This matters a lot and here’s why: there are two ways cell phones “work”—GSM (Global Systems Mobile) and CDMA (Code Division Mobile Access). Most cell phones are on GSM, making those particular phones easier to use when traveling. For those carriers on CDMA, they are kind of locked into their own world of usage, so not a lot of wiggle room. Check out some hot deals in Canada, with everything from coverage to international uses.
If your carrier uses GSM, you’re basically golden. This just means that there’s bound to be a network wherever you’re going that will be able to work with your phone. You’ll have to double check with your carrier on any specific travel spots to be sure you’re not stuck without service, but chances are excellent you’re phone will work. If your carrier uses CDMA, brace yourself: it won’t work internationally.
So, how far is your phone taking you?
Locked vs. Unlocked
Regardless of your carrier, you probably have / had a locked phone. Most carriers put a software lock on new phones that prevents someone outside of their network from just using it all willy-nilly, thus, making it difficult to grab your new phone and take it overseas or sell it off the back of a truck.
If you’re on a GSM network and need to travel, the easiest way to do this is to get a SIM card from wherever you end up. To do this, you need to remove your current SIM card but to do that your phone needs to be unlocked. If you own your phone outright, you can request to have it unlocked. If you still owe money on your device, you’ll need to pay it off before you can unlock it.
Alternatively, you can simply choose to stay on your locked phone and pay the roaming cost of using it internationally. Depending on how long you’ll be traveling and what features you’ll be using, it could be the smart move. The other option is to purchase a cheap international calling plan from your carrier and to budget your data.
Data on the side
Now that you’ve nailed down your phone strategy based on your carrier network and whether or not you need to use a SIM card or buy a prepaid phone, you need to think about data in practical terms. When traveling internationally, be aware that going over your data is much easier. This is because you’re probably taking pictures, videos, and emailing more. You’re also probably trying to work a bit. You’re also living harder and Euro raging more than ever before and need everyone on your social media feeds to know it back home. This will cost you, in terms of data.
Ready to go the distance? Do This:
- Contact your carrier and find out what your International and roaming plans are.
More things to do...
- Find your go-to WiFi hotspot. Once you have your favorite local
cafébar that offers their WiFi passcode when you order a pint, switch off your data to WiFi and use that only.
- Pay the cost to roam. It is easier, more convenient, but pricey. Just be aware.
- Buy a local prepaid phone and go nuts.
- Look into that SIM card option we mentioned above.
- Use VoIP apps like Whats App, Viber, and Skype to communicate. You can communicate with anyone else using this app with you for "free" when you are on WiFi. Otherwise, it takes a bite out of your data.