While you plan your next major adventure, make sure you’ve covered all your bases – especially your electronic devices. If you’ve got an iPhone, there are a few things you need to do before traveling abroad to keep yourself safe, connected, and stress-free.
It’s easy to take smartphones for granted, but international travel exposes them to certain risks, not the least of which include unauthorized access to your data and unpleasantly large bills when you return.
Adventures can be full of surprises. Here’s what you should do to your iPhone when traveling internationally to make sure they’re the happy kind.
6 Things to Do With Your iPhone Before Traveling Internationally
If you’re planning a vacation or trip abroad, you probably aren’t thinking twice about bringing your iPhone along. While super convenient, your iPhone needs a few preparations just like you. Here are our six best recommendations for what you should do to your iPhone before traveling abroad.
1. Make Sure your iPhone is Unlocked
Carriers lock smartphones to keep people with their service, but that’s ultra-inconvenient if you’re traveling internationally. A locked phone prevents you from accessing local SIM cards or even eSIM services. If your phone is locked, you’ll find yourself either restricted to Wi-Fi usage or subject to less-than-competitive international roaming rates many carriers charge abroad (assuming that coverage exists where you’ll be).
If your iPhone is currently locked, Apple recommends that you contact your carrier to have them unlock it. Often, explaining that you’ll be traveling abroad and need to get a local phone number should be enough. However, if they refuse, plenty of third-party options exist.
2. Familiarize Yourself with Wi-Fi-based services
Wi-Fi-based services are one option to consider if you’re traveling in an area where you expect to have accessible WiFi. Instead of using data, these services let your iPhone perform its functions over the internet. For the iPhone, consider:
- Native Apple apps: Several built-in Wi-Fi-based apps exist on your iPhone already. iMessage lets you send texts via Wi-Fi (to other iPhones only). FaceTime lets you make both audio and video calls over a network.
- Facebook Messenger: The Messenger app stands alone from Facebook — you can use it even if your Facebook account isn’t active.
- WhatsApp, Telegram, or Line: Securely send texts or make phone calls from these popular apps.
Even if you do get a local SIM card or an eSIM data plan, Wi-Fi-based services can help you minimize your data usage so that you get the most mileage from your plan.
3. Turn Off Data Roaming Until You Go
Always turn off your data roaming to prevent your iPhone from connecting with partner networks abroad – that’s how you end up with a massive bill. You may also want to turn off cellular data entirely while you’re in transit to prevent your phone from accessing all networks to be extra safe. (You’ll need it with an eSIM data plan, however.)
To turn off data roaming:
- Go to "Settings"
- Select "Cellular"
- Select "Data Roaming" and turn it off
- Select "Cellular Data" and turn that off, too
4. Get an eSIM Data Plan
An eSIM data plan lets you access local data at local prices directly from your phone. You can purchase these ahead of time and simply activate one when you arrive at your destination. It won’t give you a local number (you’ll need either Dual SIM capabilities or one of the above texting or calling apps), but you’ll have a fully functional phone that avoids expensive data roaming packages.
We’ve covered eSIM data plans in-depth right here.
5. Reset Your Usage Statistics
It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your data usage while you’re traveling since how it’s measured might differ. You’ll also be able to spot apps that eat up data quickly and take steps to prevent that from continuing.
To reset your data usage statistics on an iPhone:
- Go to "Settings"
- Select "Cellular"
- Select "Reset Statistics"
This will give you a clear view of your data usage while you travel.
6. Update Your Multi-Factor Authentication Steps
Two-step or multi-factor authentication is an important security practice that helps keep your accounts safe. Most 2FA is text-based, meaning you’ll get a text with a secret code to prove your identity. However, if you don’t have phone service abroad, you may find yourself locked out of your email or bank account at a critical moment.
Avoid this by updating your 2FA logins to be accessible to you as much as possible. Some ideas include:
- Use a backup email if you’re able.
- Get a Google Voice number or temporarily port your phone number to Google.
- Switch to an app-based authenticator, such as Google Authenticator or LastPass Authenticator.
Save Time, Money, and Stress by Preparing Ahead of Time
You’ve planned out your itinerary, expenses, and experiences meticulously. Do the same with your iPhone. From making sure you can take advantage of local SIM cards and eSIM data plans to updating your security steps, there are at least a few things you should do with your iPhone before traveling internationally.
Most of all, make sure you have a plan to stay connected the next time you travel. With an Airalo eSIM, getting mobile data is quick, easy, and stress-free. Check out the mobile data plans available at your next destination right here.