During your time abroad, you’ll need to sort out what you’re doing with your phone. You will still need your phone for various things – staying in contact with your family and friends back home, contacting your friends in the UK, calling AES, reaching your faculty leader in the UK, or to speak to your internship supervisor. Here are a few options of what to do with your mobile phone during your time abroad.
Using Airplane Mode and Wi-Fi
This is the cheapest way to go, but is impractical for anyone staying over a week.
What you do: Turn on ‘airplane mode’ and enable Wi-Fi to use whenever it is available.
What you pay: Nothing
Positives: Does not cost anything
Negatives: You are not able to use your phone as a phone, dependent on Wi-Fi
Extending your current US phone plan to include international calls/data
Here, you will speak to your current US phone provider and see what options they have for international plans. Many companies will allow you to add international data or minutes of varying amounts and for varying lengths of time. This would be good for students on any length of programme.
What you do: Contact your phone provider and add an international plan
What you pay: Depends on your provider and what plan you choose
Positives: Easy to use, costs are often clear up front, you are able to tailor your plan to what you need (more or less data or calling)
Negatives: International plans (especially with data) can be extremely expensive
Purchasing a UK sim card
There are many inexpensive UK phone providers, which offer phone, text, and data plans for various lengths of time. This is better for students who will be in the UK for a month or longer.
What you do: Unlock your phone – If you have purchased your phone through your provider, they have locked it so that the phone can only be used with them. Most providers will unlock your phone for you for a small fee. You will need to do this before you arrive. Purchase a sim card upon arrival.
What you pay: Fee for unlocking your phone, plan price (depends on the UK provider)
Positives: Easy to use, costs and usage are clear up front, you are able to tailor your plan to what you need
Negatives: May cost slightly more, as you’ll be paying a US and UK phone bills
Purchasing a disposable cell phone in the UK
With this option, you’ll purchase a dumb phone for use in the UK, and use airplane mode on your smartphone. This option would be best for students who will be in the UK for a month or longer.
What you do: put your smartphone on airplane mode, and purchase an inexpensive phone with calling and texting
What you pay: Dumb phones often cost less than £5
Positives: You’ll have UK calling and texting
Negatives: You will not have access to data and will be dependent on Wi-Fi