When you travel anywhere, with or without your kids, and especially if you travel abroad, it is very important to think about how you will use your phone on your trip. Don't just bring your phone along and think that you can use it like you would at home. First of all, depending on your carrier and the plan and phone you have, it might not work abroad. Secondly, using it in another country might end up being very, very expensive.
Using your cellphone abroad
Here are some tips and resources for how to use your cell-phone on your trip without paying too much:
- Talk to your carrier before you leave home - Ask about rates for calls and texts on your trip. Also get an international calling and/or texting package: these usually offer reduced rates for a certain number of calls or text messages, and can really reduce how much you'll be paying. I usually get an international texting package and calling package for our trips, but I try to use the texting more since it's cheaper and easier.
- Consider not using data roaming at all - This might seem harsh to some, but the rates for data usage when you're in another country can be very high, and add astronomical amounts to your bill. Instead, use WiFi when you can. You can disable data roaming directly on your phone, or by calling your carrier before you leave home.
- Think about what phone to bring - iPhones and other smartphones are a prime target for thieves in many places around the world. I know several travellers who use an older, "dumber" phone for traveling, just to reduce the risk of theft. Travel writer Rick Steves has some tips on this subject too: he has a phone he bought in Europe and then purchases SIM cards in the European countries he visits to reduce phone costs.
There are a lot of cellphone travel-apps on the market, and the problem is really finding the ones best suited to your needs. Two that I've read about recently are:
- Kidzout - To quote the website, this is "a map-based mobile application for families on the go. It helps moms and dads find everything from diaper deck locations, to family-friendly restaurants, to places to play to the nearest urgent care, emergency room or pharmacy."
- Tales2Go - This app streams audio-books on cellphones and other mobile devices. There's a large library to choose from.
- Moms with Apps - This website has a lot of reviews of apps for kids and families. It's run by "a collaborative group of family-friendly developers seeking to promote quality apps for kids and families."
- Best travel apps for kids - Good selection of apps by "The Daily Traveler".
- Best apps for travelling with kids - A list of recommended apps from "Little Nomads".
- 7 free iPhone apps to help you explore nature - App-tips from "Hike. Blog. Love."
- Travel apps - A selection of apps from "Fun Educational Apps".