Will My Phone Work Abroad? Everything You Need to Know About Your Carrier and Coverage


Nothing will feed those post-vacation blues quite like an astronomical cell phone bill when you get home. While it may be tempting to share your every Instagrammable moment with the world as you travel, using data outside of the United States can cost about just as much as all five nights in your luxurious Airbnb if you don't prepare ahead.

Most carriers include some kind of international data plan with prices that vary depending on your destination. Verizon, for example, has talk, text and data plans that run, per device, $2 a day in Mexico and Canada, $5 a day in Brazil and Spain and $10 a day in over 100 other countries, with other monthly and long-term options. 

According to Tech Insider, these deals typically don't come with the same allowances as your regular phone plan, meaning you'll burn through your allotted minutes, data and texts with just a few Mona Lisa selfies and calls home to mom. What's more, if you don't opt into one of these plans before you leave, Tech Insider reported you could shell out as much as $2.50 a minute and $19.50 per megabyte of data.


For a quick vacation, the best thing you can do for yourself, and your wallet, is turn off your cellular data for the duration. You can do it. Believe in yourself.

Luckily, apps like WhatsApp and Viber make it easy to communicate with friends and family while abroad as long as you have access to Wi-Fi. Some cafes and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi, but if you can wait, save your Instagram or Facebook photo dump for the end of the day when you arrive back at your hostel for the night. Carpe diem, right?

If you're abroad for the long haul — to study abroad or become a full-fledged ex-pat — you'll need a local SIM card with a new number and a plan that will function the same way your U.S. phone plan does. Students abroad might opt for a basic phone, devoid of smart phone capabilities, touch screens or even QWERTY keyboards. You can pay as you go while keeping your other phone somewhere safe.

And remember: While you're abroad experiencing a new culture, walking among ancient ruins and tasting foreign foods, you're not just doing it for the Vine.

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