A smartphone is fast becoming the most versatile machine a traveler can own. It is our telephone, stereo, messenger, high resolution camera, and POS system. And in a turn that makes the smartphone even more valuable to our everyday functioning, even mythically-so, there’s this: it’s not constrained by nationality.

From buying a local SIM card, to signing up for an international mobile plan, to wifi hopping, there are all sorts of ways to use your smartphone to stay connected when traveling around the world.

Local SIM Cards

A SIM card, short for subscriber identity module card, is that square plastic wafer nestled inside your smartphone. Its job is to store information and connect the device to the carrier network.

The thing that makes a SIM card so great for travel is that it’s entirely interchangeable. If you’re taking a vacation to Italy and want your phone to put on a fancy Italian jacket and speak to all the right Italian cell towers, you can simply buy a local SIM card and for all intents and purpose it will be an Italian phone. Yes, you’ll even get a new, local phone number.

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