Travelling abroad and telephoning is always a puzzle. However, it is essential to be able to use your mobile phone when you travel abroad, and wifi is usually unavailable at the most crucial moments (when you need to order an uber, call your airbnb contact, download your hotel address, consult google map, check the currency conversion rate, call your relatives…).

In short, it is still possible to do without your mobile abroad (how did we do it before?) but not comfortable for many travellers. As soon as you want to use your smartphone in a different country from your operator’s, you’re talking about “roaming”. Here’s everything you need to know about it, my advice to avoid unpleasant surprises abroad and to be well prepared to call and connect to the internet at a lower cost anywhere in the world.

I’ve already received this great message “Your internet connections are up to €50. Your uses are blocked” and this in less than a minute of connection to whatsapp with my small French sim card ( Visit simoptions.com for more about prepaid SIM cards). The explanation: I didn’t have a package adapted to the country in question (the Philippines in this case), I hadn’t deactivated mobile data abroad (this is called ‘roaming’) and I paid myself the luxury of downloading my received messages on whatsapp . The mistake!

So… (laughs) How do you keep the ability to make calls, stay connected to your mobile applications, social networks and browse the internet without it turning into a nightmare? Here are my guidelines to simplify your task and make the right choices.

What is “roaming”?

Roaming means using your mobile phone to make calls, send and receive messages or connect to the Internet from abroad, via a different operator than the one you are subscribed to.

For example, if I am travelling in Croatia and I have an Orange subscription in France, my phone will no longer show “Orange F” as the mobile network but “T-Mobile” which will be the local network.

In order to make roaming possible, the main French operators (Orange, SFR, Free mobile and Bouygues telecom) have signed agreements with international operators, so that their users can use their mobile phone regardless of the country in which they are located.

Find out more about temporary international options

If you want to be able to use your mobile temporarily outside Europe for the duration of a trip, you can subscribe to an international option on a one-off basis. With your telephone operator, you can take out an option that gives you temporary access to telephone and web data credit from the Americas, Africa, Asia or Oceania.

In general, I recommend that you install on your smartphone the application of your phone operator. Once connected to the application, check the international options depending on your destination and the duration of your trip.

Please note that not all mobile operators offer international options and packages that are compatible or advantageous with all countries in the world! These options will help you out occasionally, but they are not long-term solutions, and in the long run will be very expensive if you travel often or for a long time. Moreover, the major risk with punctual options is to exceed your international package and to have the very bad surprise to be billed for out of package as it could happen to me (at 7€ or up to 13€ per megabyte it goes very fast and you reach in one minute the ceiling of 50€…). So, follow your consumption regularly during the trip!