“Once in a while, a revolutionary product is launched and changes everything”. Back in 2007, this is how Steve Jobs presented the first smartphone – the iPhone. But did you know that Cell Phone International Travel is now easier than ever?

Since Jobs’ speech, smartphones have made their way in every corner of our lives.


Here’s how to use your phone to simplify every single step about travelling. It’s your most essential travel tool, except perhaps for your passport.

Cell Phone International Travel – There’s no getting lost even when you lose the Network

Smartphones are equipped with sensors: accelerometers, GPS, gyroscope, compass, and sometimes even a barometric pressure sensor. These tools work even when you have no connectivity. Though sometimes they might not work as accurately without a strong network, they still work!

Since the GPS on your smartphone works all the time, all you need to do is open your favorite map app (for example, Google Maps) and it will find you.

For this reason, Google Maps has a feature that allows you to download maps directly into your phone’s memory.

In Google Maps, when you have access to WiFi, type the name of the city of your destination. Once it is displayed, type “OK Maps” in the search box. Google will download the map you just posted and you’ll be able to use GPS and offline compass features even when you aren’t connected to the internet!

Cell Phone International Travel – Videos, music, books, games

All smartphones allow you to listen to music, watch movies or TV shows, read books or play offline games. Just make sure you load them on your phone before leaving the house.

Cell Phone International Travel – Destination networks are affordable

All the same, it is relatively simple to have access to all the features of your smartphone when you reach your destination.

Smartphones are mostly sold by service providers (Rogers, Telus, Bell). These use a feature in your phone that prevents you from using a SIM card from another provider. However, Canada’s new telecom laws allow you to unblock your phone – you just have to ask your provider. Call technical support and they will send you a code in exchange for a few dollars. (And if they pretend to ignore the law and give you the runaround, which is almost always the case, you can get your phone unlocked in smartphone repair shops or online.)

Once your phone is unlocked, you can use it anywhere in the world with SIM cards from each country you visit.

Today, almost all airports have stores of different providers of mobile telephony. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, just go to telecom companies’ stands in the airport with your unlocked smartphone, choose the prepaid plan that’s right for you, and you’ll have a 100% functional smartphone during your visit. In most Asian countries, convenience stores have SIM cards. Also, there are some countries where you can get a SIM card in vending machines at metro stations!

Remember, you will only pay a fraction of the cost of your regular bill, since wireless communications in Canada are nearly the most expensive in the world.

Cell Phone International Travel – The best applications

Google Maps is probably the best app ever designed for travelers. There are still some other interesting apps:

– Booking.com

This is perhaps the best and easiest app to find a range of hotels and accommodation options within budget. The GPS function works perfectly. And, usually, cancellations are free of charge while you get an option to get a confirmed booking without making any payments in advance.


– Skyscanner

The best app to find flights at the best price possible. There’s a wide range of search options available, and the widget allows you to keep an eye on fluctuating ticket prices from one destination to another in real time! Remember to always book with the airline ONLY, not third party sites.

– Google Translate

Once again, an indispensable mobile app created by Google helps you overcome the inevitable language barriers which you may come across often while travelling or meeting new people. Imagine! you are travelling, you don’t understand the alphabet or the language, and you are trying to order a tea. You point, gesticulate, but all your attempts fail. Open Google Translate, choose your language, then the destination language, type a simple phrase, translate it, and tap the speaker icon. Your phone will speak for you. Google Translate now even offers downloadable languages, so you can use it offline!

– Couchsurfing

Are you in a cash crunch and an urge to travel at the same time? You can try Couchsurfing where you meet a range of hosts willing to share an empty couch. You get an “at home experience”  staying with locals.


For many, being on a trip is also the perfect opportunity to make your friends jealous. When you have your smartphone with a local network SIM card, you can, of course, put dozens of photos online, leave comments to your jealous friends, and make sure that your beach-tanned body is there for all to see. (Or not.)

Tons of accessories

Several travel accessories exist for each of the smartphones on the market.

– If your phone allows you to change your battery – as for most older Samsung phones – buy extra batteries and an external charger. You’ll be able to charge several batteries at a time at night.

– If your phone does not offer this feature, there are several external batteries on the market. These allow you to charge the battery of your phone without having access to a power outlet. Here’s a great example.

– If your phone has an input for SD cards, get a card of the highest capacity compatible with your phone. In this way, you’ll never run out of space for your videos and music.

Do not forget to bring an adapter if you leave the continent. Electrical outlets sometimes even differ from one country to another. Fortunately, your smartphone – just like laptops and tablets – is equipped with a transformer. This gives you an option to connect it to 220V or 110V without worrying about it exploding!

And who knows? Maybe one day, our smartphones will also contain our passports…

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