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iPhone settings for international travel

Setting up your iPhone correctly for international travel will help you stay connected without spending too much. Learn with us how to do it.

Leoneska Ruiz

July 19, 2023

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If you’re planning a trip to another country, it’s crucial to ensure your iPhone is set up correctly for international travel. An incorrect configuration or a phone you cannot use abroad could leave you without any contact or communication while traveling. Not a pleasant treat.

It is also essential to know if you have international data plans, and in case you don’t have one, sign up for one. Otherwise, you could be spending a lot of money to get internet abroad or even unable to connect to any network.

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Confirm if your phone can be used overseas.

Most iPhones can be used overseas. To confirm this, you must know if your iPhone is unlocked or locked.

  • An unlocked iPhone is not associated with any carrier and can be used with any local or international carrier.
  • A locked iPhone is associated with a specific carrier and can only be used with that carrier in the respective country.

If your iPhone is unlocked, you can use it anywhere without problems. You just need to turn on data roaming on your iPhone, and you can browse the internet, make calls, and send text messages. Roaming can be costly, so we recommend using other alternatives, such as international eSIM. 

If your iPhone is locked, you must contact your carrier to unlock it before you can use it in another country. The unlocking process may vary depending on the carrier, but it is usually simple and quick.

How to set up your iPhone for international travel

iPhone settings for international travel pic
iPhone for international travel. Source: Freepik.

Once you identify that your iPhone can be used abroad, other settings can help you. These will prevent you from consuming too much data because if you use a roaming service, the more you use it, the more you will have to pay.

To set up your iPhone for international travel, follow these steps:

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Tap Cellular.
  • Tap Cellular Data Options.
  • Tap Roaming.
  • Turn on Data Roaming.

You can do this to activate data usage abroad; when you don’t want to use it, you can repeat the process and turn off the roaming service. Other recommendations we can give you are:

  • Back up your iPhone before you travel. This will help protect your data in case something happens to your phone.
  • Keep your iPhone charged. Make sure you have a portable charger or access to a power outlet so you can keep your iPhone charged while you’re traveling.

Download applications that you can use offline.

Because you may be reducing your data consumption, try downloading apps that you can use offline before traveling or using a WiFi network. These can help you while you are in the city, both for information and entertainment. Some apps like Google Maps allow you to download resources offline, such as maps, to help you find your way around while visiting.

Learn how to turn off iMessage and FaceTime

iMessage and FaceTime consume data, so turning them off can help you save money. You can always turn them back on when you’re back home.

To turn off iMessage and FaceTime, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Messages.
  3. Turn off iMessage.
  4. Tap FaceTime.
  5. Turn off FaceTime.

How to get internet on your iPhone abroad

The previous recommendations we have provided are focused on saving data while you are abroad. However, nowadays, we can find options for tourists that allow you to navigate without limitations and use your iPhone all the time while traveling. As we know, many of the functions of our phone require internet, discover the best options to stay connected as a tourist.

Virtual SIM card for travelers

These eSIMs are a new technology that allows us to get internet abroad without having to insert a SIM. Apple was one of the first to incorporate the digital SIM in their devices, and if you have an updated iPhone model, you will most likely be able to use one. Being completely virtual, eSIMs can be purchased and installed remotely in minutes

You can locate an online store such as Holafly, search for an eSIM for the country you are visiting, and complete the purchase of your data service. These alternatives are less expensive than roaming, and you can even find unlimited data options for many destinations. Travelers can get a Europe eSIM card or a USA travel eSIM quickly!

Holafly eSIM home
Holafly home website.

What are other options for getting internet in Europe as a foreigner?

In addition to the eSIM, we can find other alternatives, some with certain limitations, but that could also give us access to the internet abroad. These options may not offer unlimited data, so it is advisable to follow the aforementioned tips we have provided to save data.

  • Buy a physical SIM card from a local carrier. This is the traditional way to get internet abroad. However, it can be more expensive than an eSIM plan and more challenging to find a carrier that offers a plan that is right for you.
  • Use a Wi-Fi hotspot. They are available in many public places, such as airports, train stations, and cafés. However, they can be slow and unreliable, so try to use one only in an emergency.
  • Use a data roaming plan from your home carrier. This is the most expensive option. Use it if you already have a data roaming plan with your home carrier.

How to choose the best option for you

The best option for you will depend on your needs and budget. If you want an easy and convenient way to get internet, an eSIM is a suitable option. On the other hand, if you already have an international data plan with your local operator, use international roaming. If you don’t mind arriving at your destination and finding a store, you could buy a physical SIM once you get there. As a last option, you could rely on public WiFi networks, although this can be risky.

Either option will allow you to stay connected, and the choice is entirely up to you and how you want to maintain your service.

Frequently asked questions about iPhone settings for international travel.

Which iPhone models can I use for international travel?

The best iPhone for international travel is an unlocked iPhone with eSIM technology and good battery life. This will allow you to use international data plans, and it will also give you the freedom to use your phone without worrying about it running out of power. If you can afford it, an upgraded model of the iPhone is a great option, as it will offer more features and benefits that can be helpful when traveling internationally.

Can I unlock my AT&T iPhone for international travel?

If you can unlock your phone with AT&T, you must meet some requirements, such as finishing paying for the device if you ordered it on credit, having a good payment history, and having had the phone for more than sixty days. To unlock it, you can request on their web, and after paying a fee, the operator will take care of the process.

Are iPhones good for international travel?

Yes, iPhones are generally suitable for international travel. They support a wide range of cellular bands, so you should be able to use them in most countries worldwide. Additionally, iPhones have good battery life, so you can use them for extended periods of time without having to worry about them running out of power. If you have internet access abroad, you can use your iPhone with all its excellent features as you would at home.