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If you are planning a trip abroad and need a smartphone to rely on map directions, where to eat and sleep, transportation, i.e, Uber, etc., you may need to understand the caveats of using a smartphone in a foreign country.

There are a number of resources to use for this. An excellent article in the NY Times by Brian X. Chen, is a good starting point. Brian’s article recommends that if you can afford it to simply call your current carrier and ask about traveling to the country(s) you plan to visit and pay for an international service plan. For those who are more frugal, Brian offers some tips on how to use a smartphone on a budget.

An article by Marguerite Reardon reported by CNN says, “stories of $3,000 iPhone bills when we return, have scared many consumers into turning off their phones or leaving them at home.” Marguerite mentions a Quick Guide to international phone usage as well as a comparison of some of the hottest world phones on the market.  Both Brian in the NY Times and Marguerite mention an option is to purchase a cheap unlocked smartphone for your trip is something to consider.

Independent Traveler recommends using wireless locations to place calls instead of using the roaming feature of your smartphone by turning off roaming which can save you money. Both the NY Times article and the CNN article also mention this option. The International Cell Phone Guide is an excellent source of information for the foreign traveler. The Independent Traveler recommends a GSM Phone and concludes, “if you combine a modest data plan with a small battery of Wi-Fi tactics, you should be able to contain costs and hassles alike.”

The FCC states, “Because roaming is complicated and varies from carrier to carrier, you should take time to understand all the rules and rates before you travel.  Advance preparation can prevent disappointments, such as lack of service or unexpectedly high charges on your next bill.” If you take a hour or two of preparation on this subject you may be a happier camper checking out a number of sources on this subject making your travel abroad more pleasant.