It’s holiday time.
Your transportation has been booked. Accommodation reserved. Itineraries drawn up. Activities planned. Pet sitting for Fido secured. Everything that’s on your to-do list has been checked off. The getaway is almost within reach.
All that’s left to do before departure is to pack your suitcase and get ready for an adventure. Right?
Well, perhaps not. There are a few more essentials to keep in mind. As you prepare for your exciting holiday, we think you could be forgetting to make plans for one of your most important items: your smartphone.
Let’s face it: very few of us plan to leave our phones home while we travel. And though you may want to make time for a bit of a digital detox during your holiday, your phone is an undeniable pocket buddy that you’re not going to want to leave behind.
If you’re going to bring your phone, you’ll need to get it ready. While prepping your mobile phone for your travels won’t take up a huge amount of time on your to-do list, there are a few crucial steps that could make the difference between a fantastic trip, and a stressful one.
Wondering how to get that phone holiday-ready? Read on.
One of the most important things you can do pre-holiday is clear out some space on your phone. If you’re like most holidaymakers, you’re probably going to go pretty crazy snapping photos while on your holiday. Spend time moving aside old photos to make room for your new additions. After all, nothing is more annoying than trying to capture that perfect photo of the Eiffel Tower and seeing a zero storage space alert pop up.
If your phone is currently chock full of photos, don’t waste time sorting and deleting them. You can upload them to your favourite cloud storage service instead. Make space AND save your images.
Prepare Your Settings
A major stressor when it comes to travel can be staying within budget. Ensuring your phone settings are sorted correctly could be one of the main ways to avoid unexpected costs.
If travelling overseas, your Australian mobile phone could leave you with quite a bill shock when you arrive home. This is because you’ll be charged for international roaming when your phone connects to local networks automatically. Because you’re out of the country, the charges for the calls and texts used via these local networks can be really high. And data is the worst culprit, charging you exorbitant rates for using megabytes. Without knowing how to plan ahead, you could be in for a massive bill.
Fortunately, to keep this in check, all you have to do is turn off data roaming on your device. It’s fairly easy to do this in your smartphone settings. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to use the Internet on your phone (you can use it easily if connected to a Wi-Fi network). However, it means you won’t have data access on the go. This can be inconvenient when travelling, but it will save you heaps of money.
Consider an International SIM
Many people don’t like to travel without the peace of mind of a working phone or without reliable Internet access. For those individuals, it can be wise to purchase an international SIM card or a local SIM for your overseas travel.
Local SIMs can be purchased at your destination, often even in the airport upon arrival. All you do is pop the SIM into your unlocked device and you’re good to go. These are generally fairly inexpensive, but you will have to use a different contact number during your stay (your Aussie mobile phone number is attached to your original SIM).
Alternately, consider an international SIM card. These are compatible in multiple countries and usually come pre-stocked with a certain amount of data. If you’re doing long-term travelling or simply visiting a few different countries during your holiday, an international SIM could be just what you need.
An international SIM could also be a useful item to save for future travels, as you can top up these cards, and most of them work in a huge number of countries.
One of the most annoying parts of travelling with your smartphone is keeping it powered up. All of that photography, reading ebooks on the plane, or using your maps can drain your phone battery. The solution? Bring along an extra power bank or two. These are small, portable packs that will give your device a serious charge (or at least a few) when you’re on the go. If you're going camping, consider a solar-powered charger or one of those nifty gadgets that lets you do two things at once, like cook a hotdog and charge your phone at the same time.
Other Extras to Pack
It never hurts to bring along a few other extras. If you’re an avid photographer and you plan to fill up that internal storage, bring another memory card you can use to store your thousands of holiday images.
An extra charging cord is also a must. You never know if you may accidentally forget yours at the hotel.
You might also want some accessories that will help your phone perform at its best. If you’re travelling on a holiday that will involve lots of water or wet conditions, you may want to invest in a small waterproof bag or holder. This will keep your phone dry and protected from moisture, whether you’re walking around in stormy weather or enjoying a cruising holiday. Nothing will ruin your holiday faster than a damaged phone.
If you’re planning on doing serious water time (think snorkelling or scuba diving) there are cases for your smartphone that will let you bring it along on the swim. Heading to the Great Barrier Reef? With the right equipment, you could create an underwater video or photos that will rival National Geographic! (Well, maybe).
Protect Your Phone
Protecting your phone from water is very important, but there are plenty of other threats to your device when travelling.
One of the biggest culprits of a phone issue while on holiday is the potential for physical damage. As you travel, you’re likely to be using your phone (especially the camera) often. All of this use provides opportunities to drop or scratch your device.
Before departure, be sure your phone is wearing its best protective gear. Do you have a strong and rugged case? What about a screen protector? With preparation, your phone could be safe even if it flies out of your hand as you’re hailing a bus. These accessories are important for everyday use, but are even more important when on the move and when travelling in an unfamiliar setting. Why not take the time to upgrade to a top-of-the-line phone case before your holiday?
Speaking of protection, what about insurance? You can (and should) protect your device in this way while travelling. This may be especially important if you’re participating in active, adventurous activities, but it’s a great idea to do it anyway as there’s potential to damage or lose your phone on holiday. There's a variety of companies which offer insurance for belongings like a smartphone and while you're at it you can also answer your laptop and your DSLR to be a fully covered holidaymaker.
Know Where You’re Going
You may need destination-specific information to get your smartphone ready. For instance, if heading abroad, check out the electrical outlet information. While many hotels and airports offer USB ports, making it very easy to charge a device, this might not always be the case. To use a traditional outlet in another country you are likely to need an adapter. These are very affordable and will work not just to power your phone but with other electronics.
Download The Right Apps
Have we mentioned on the Southern Phone blog how much people are addicted to their smartphones? A few times! It’s true; smartphone users love to use their devices and may even have a hard time being without them. We’re guilty as charged, too.
Knowing this, you’ll definitely want to have your smartphone with you, but did you know your smartphone can actually improve and enhance your travels? Before leading on your holiday, spend some time downloading some great travel and transport apps to your device. For instance, Google Maps can not only help you find your way around in a new city, but you can also download offline maps that you can use when you aren’t connected to the Internet. This is super helpful when travelling!
You can also download a host of useful apps that will help you travel with ease. These include apps for your airline alerts, apps to contain your travel documents, or even a review app like TripAdvisor or Yelp to help you find the best restaurants in your destination. Going to a foreign nation? Google Translate is a must to aid you in navigating everything from signs to menus.
To keep yourself entertained during the long flight, bus ride, or road trip, download some ebooks onto your device. These can be read offline, helping your transportation go by in a breeze. Not into reading? Music players will do just fine, and most of these have offline options as well, so you won’t have to eat into that precious international data.
Have trouble flying? Many of us experience a bit of in-flight anxiety. Mobile apps can actually prove very beneficial in this situation. There are plenty of choices for meditation and guided hypnosis apps that will help you feel zen as you wing your way to your destination.
One issue you could run into while on holiday involves logging into some of your apps. If you have 2-factor authentication set up for any of your logins, you may usually receive a code via SMS. But when travelling abroad, this may not be possible (either because your data is shut off or you’re using a foreign SIM). To circumvent this potential problem, write down some backup codes that you can use instead, or try out an authenticator app, which generates a security code and can do so when your phone is offline.
Before going on holiday, make sure your phone is updated to the latest operating system version. This will help you to avoid technical snafus and it ensures that your phone is in prime condition.
You should also bring along a SIM card ejector. If you’re planning to buy a local SIM in your destination you’ll need to be able to instal it! This tiny tool usually comes with a new device, but if you’ve misplaced yours along the way, alternate items can help, such as a safety pin.
Give it a New Look
Does your phone deserve a holiday makeover? Why not? This is a great opportunity to update your old case with something shiny and new. This might not be essential, but shopping for an attractive new case is a to-do list item that you’re going to enjoy!
Enjoy Your Trip!
These tips and to-dos are designed to help you maximise your holiday fun and have a pleasant, stress-free holiday. The last thing to remember when getting your smartphone ready is to have a great time. Grab those photos, make those memories, and see the world.