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Traveling Internationally With Your Cellphone

Traveling internationally with your cell phone can be tricky. With the holiday travel season in full swing, many people have questions about using their cell phones abroad. Read on to find answers to frequently asked questions and check out our Top 5 Travel Tips that can help you this holiday season.

Will my cell phone work abroad?

Whether your U.S. carrier-based cell phone will work while traveling abroad depends on a few different factors. Phones from carriers like Sprint and Verizon use CDMA signaling technology, and may not work in countries that use GSM as the standard. Similarly, AT&T and T-Mobile operate on GSM, and probably won't work in countries where CDMA is the standard technology.

In addition, you will probably need a cell plan from your provider that allows for international roaming. Some of these plans can be purchased on a temporary basis, for use only while you are traveling. Others can be added to your regular plan if you are a regular international traveler.

An alternative to paying for an international plan through your carrier is to buy a SIM card that allows your cell phone to be used as a local phone in your destination country. Installing a SIM card gives you a local number and allows you to use your phone using local calling rates. However, this can be expensive, and you should first do thorough research before making a decision.

What about emergencies?

During the holiday travel season, many Americans travel overseas on vacation. They may not even plan to use their cell phones, might want to use their phones but case of an emergency. International travelers should know that in Europe, much of South America, and many other countries, dialing the number 112 will get you access to emergency services for that country, the equivalent of our 911 system. So even if your cell phone isn't on an international dialing plan, it can still be used for emergencies, provided that it uses the same cell technology for the country you're in.

Use in airports and crossing borders

Let's say that you've just landed at the international airport for the country you're visiting and you want to let family know you've arrived safely. Many airports now offer Wi-Fi access for use by visitors waiting for their flights. If you have a smart phone and can connect via the Wi-Fi network, consider using a service like Skype to make your call. Using Skype on a free network can actually mean you pay little or nothing for the call.

Know before you go

When you're planning your trip overseas, the best thing is to get in touch with your carrier before you go. They can usually tell you all about the network and charges you can expect for the country you will be visiting. They should also be able to make recommendations on the best solution for your travel situation. Happy traveling from Free Phone Tracer!

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