Traveling Abroad: Do I Need a Smartphone, Tablet or Both?

Lis Penney-Haverhill, MA

If you’re traveling abroad, you’re probably like one of the 58 percent of American adults who need to stay connected at all times. With so many of us addicted to instant communication, few of us are willing to give that up just because we’re thousands of miles from home. But which device, or devices, should you bring when traveling overseas?

While there isn’t one perfect answer that fits every situation, weighing the pros and cons of each can help you make the best decision.

Smartphone Benefits

You probably already have a smartphone. It’s easy to carry and doesn’t take up much room. You’re already familiar with how it functions, so you won’t have to spend precious vacation time fumbling around with a new device trying to figure out how it works.

As traveling can be rough on any high-tech gadget, your smartphone probably has some type of protective case that shields it if it is dropped, easing the worry of possible damage. If you don’t, you might want to invest in a sturdy protective case like an Otterbox. These are scratch and shock-proof and some even make your phone completely waterproof.

If you are thinking about getting a new phone, be sure and do your research as not all will work outside of the country. Your best bet is to look for one that is unlocked, such as the affordable Moto G by Motorola. All you have to do when you arrive at your destination is purchase a local SIM card (available in most airports) and you can make calls without the worry of expensive roaming fees.

Smartphone Drawbacks

If you don’t have an unlocked smartphone and purchased yours on contract, it’s probably locked to your specific carrier. This means that you’ll need to purchase an international plan that covers the country, or countries, you’ll be visiting. plans If the phone goes into roaming, you’ll also be assessed with hefty roaming charges for each minute of use. Some providers, however, offer free international roaming with a new phone, such as T-mobile. They offer unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling from more than 30 countries outside the U.S. This can be especially handy if you travel a lot.

Pros and Cons of a Tablet

If you plan on spending a lot of time online and want to be able to read, play a game, watch a movie or write a lot of emails, a tablet can be a great choice as it offers many of the same functions as a smartphone. It typically has more processing power, a bigger screen and better resolution as well as more helpful apps.

All tablets are equipped with Wi-Fi, which means you can access the Internet by connecting to a Wi-Fi hot spot. Hotspot-locations.com is a free worldwide directory that can help you find the closest one.

If your tablet has a 3G slot, you’ll need to be aware of how much roaming data you use, which comes with a high cost just like a smartphone. Purchasing a SIM card at your destination can help alleviate this problem. A tablet will take up more room than a smartphone, so you’ll need to plan accordingly in addition to making sure that it has a tough case for protection.

The iPad is a perennial favorite when it comes to tablets, but Samsung’s Galaxy Tab series is a good Android- based alternative.