Summer is here — the perfect time of year for beach vacations, sightseeing tours, and hiking excursions. If you’re planning to travel, a little phone prep will ensure you remain in contact with friends and family and can capture all the Insta-worthy photos and video your heart desires. This checklist will get your phone travel ready before you go.
1. It’s all about the data (and your plan)
Before you head out on your summer adventure, take stock of your mobile data usage. Are you regularly hitting your limit or coming close? It may be time to rethink your plan.
• Shop around for an option that can handle a burst in data usage, such as an unlimited plan.
• Sharing a plan with a family member can also provide wiggle room in data. Just make sure they won’t be maxing out their limit at the same time you are.
• Consider a carrier that offers free WiFi hotspots. These allow you to connect your phone to WiFi for free, giving you a chance to upload pictures and video or have a quiet video chat with a friend while grabbing lunch or a coffee.
• Minimize data use by uploading and downloading over WiFi and turning off automatic app updates.
2. Prep for international travel
If you’re traveling outside of the country, do some homework. Is your mobile carrier available internationally? Will your phone work on the network in the country you’re going to? You don’t want to find out you can’t use your phone on your trip the day before you leave, so plan for international travel.
• Call your carrier and ask what you need to do to use your phone internationally.
• Don’t forget to ask for international rates, especially for data. You don’t want to be surprised by an enormous bill when you get home.
3. Making space, adding storage, and backing up
Pictures and video quickly eat up storage space on your phone. You don’t want to be attempting to capture the most epic video ever and run out of space. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to avoid this particular vacation pitfall.
• Download (or upload) old videos and pictures. Delete the ones you don’t need to carry around with you.
• Remove any apps you don’t use.
• If your phone has the option for additional storage, purchase an extra microSD card (or whatever is required) to use if you run out of room.
• Use the cloud to back up your photos in case something happens to your phone. Dropbox, Google Photos, Amazon Phone, and iCloud are all good options. Uploading images can use a lot of data, so remember to back up while on WiFi.
• Back up each evening at the hotel and remove files you don’t need to free up space for the next day.
• If you won’t have regular WiFi access, find a backup hard drive that works with your phone. One that plugs into your phone will be significantly faster, but there are Bluetooth models and those that connect by creating their own wireless networks, too.
4. Protection is key
Get a good case for your phone. Yes, it will be bulkier, but it’s worth it for the added protection, especially if you’ll be hiking or doing other physical activities. If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, especially near water, invest in a waterproof case or pouch that will protect your phone no matter what Mother Nature throws your way.
5. Know how your phone works
This may seem obvious, but it’s especially important if you recently got a new phone. Make sure you understand how your phone works. In particular, learn how to:
• Enable battery-saving mode.
• Turn off app updates.
• Turn off data use.
• Take (and delete) photos and videos.
• Engage airplane mode.
6. Take charge
All the planning in the world won’t matter if your phone battery runs out. If you follow just one of these suggestions, follow this one.
• Do not forget your charger. If you’re traveling internationally, make sure you have a charger or an adapter with an appropriate plug for the country or countries you’ll be visiting.
• Bring a backup charger to carry with you and leave one in your hotel.
• Bring a backup battery. This could either be an entire second battery for your phone or a small, plug-in battery. Make sure it’s strong enough to charge your phone 10-20%, so you’re covered in an emergency. Keep this battery charged.
• When possible, save heavy-battery-use tasks for times when you can plug in. This includes watching and streaming video and uploading or downloading files.
• Prolong your battery life by turning down your screen brightness, disabling Bluetooth and GPS, and closing any apps running in the background.
Prepping your phone for summer travel is no different from packing your suitcase and making travel arrangements — a little effort makes a big difference in your ability to relax and have a great time. If your phone is in working order, you can travel safer while staying in touch and sharing some amazing content with friends and family back home.
Christy Matte is a Boston-based writer and contributor for Xfinity Mobile. She has been covering tech for the past decade but has been enamored with it her whole life. Christy has two Minecraft-obsessed kids, a software engineer husband, a crazy cat who thinks she’s a dog, and a hedgehog who barely tolerates them all.