Quick Tips: How to Travel Abroad Without Cell Service

How does one navigate abroad and without the use of cell service? Well, as someone who has been traveling virtually non-stop for the last 4 1/2 years, I can say with the complete confidence that the answer is— they don’t. While the idea of getting lost in a far off land can seem romantic, the reality is far from it. Far too often I have been left at the mercy of this or that disaster because I did not have the proper If you can in any way help it, don’t do this. NoSo for the love of all that is good and holy and for the sake of your own sanity, here’s how to navigate abroad.

Buy a Sim Card

While this is clearly the most obvious of choices, it is one that many usually don’t make—including me. For years, I fumbled around from place to place without a local sim card. At the time, while I was in Europe for the majority of that time, my Spanish sim card seemed to work.; most of the time that is.

When it didn’t, I was left scrambling to find a local cafe or restaurant to help me along to my next destination or help guide me back home. It was only until I journeyed to Turkey and found that I needed to use a local sim card as a backup for my inconsistent wifi.

I was immediately floored. Never had I imagined that $30 could impact my life in such a positive way. It seemed as though literally an entire new world had opened up before me. I could go anywhere I wanted, travel anywhere I wanted and even communicate anyway I wanted. Having local data meant that I could pull up the translator anytime that I needed.

So, if you have an unlocked phone, do yourself a favor and and buy a sim card as soon as you land. Most countries now have kiosks in the airport and won’t cost more than 30 dollars. Save yourself the headache and get one. It will make life in your new local so much easier.

Bring Your Own Portable Wifi

Now, if you can’t unlock your phone or if you are a frequent traveler and just want to save yourself some hassle, consider buying or renting a portable router.

Brands like Skyroam enable you to head from place to place without bothering to switch out sim cards. This may also come in handy if you need to work while you are away, or are heading to a place where the internet is insecure.


Download Offline Maps

One of my roommates in Madrid was one of the first to tell me about the app Here. Unlike other navigational systems, Here allows you to download the maps of the places you are visiting and use them to navigate without wifi or data. Personally, I’ve used here to help guide me through over ten countries and I’ve only had issues using it in two places: Palestine and Laos. It worked perfectly in Israel, though, so take that as you will.

So, there you have it! Three quick tips to help you navigate abroad with or without cell service. Have you ever used any of these? Let me know in the comments below!

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Candace Fykes2 Comments