I’ve just arrived in Italy this week. I had a bit of a difficult time packing for this trip. I’m gone for nearly 10 days on this trip and now that I’m working entirely as a freelancer, I’ve had to think of travel in a bit of a different way.

When I backpacked around the world I was happy to not have a smartphone or any expensive technology. I had a good camera (one of a traveler’s best tools, in my opinion) but after the Middle East and India, it was pretty much a goner.

So when I started to settle down here in Berlin, I finally decided to go the route of the smartphone. Enter the iPhone—that thing of beauty, style, brilliant engineering and an app store to die for. I brought the iPhone with me on my trip to Jordan, used it as my only camera in Brighton and it became my best friend here in Berlin. Things were too good to be true, though, because I was eventually robbed of it and was suddenly without a decent camera OR a smartphone. No doubt it had become an addiction, but it was certainly a useful one. And now I just can’t imagine traveling without a smartphone.

Using a smartphone abroad can be tricky—and make you do silly things!

Benefits of traveling with a smartphone

Despite losing my iPhone, I used a Nokia Lumia 800 on my recent trip to Catalunya. That’s when I remembered all the benefits of traveling with a smartphone:

  • Easy to take photos of things you might miss while fumbling with a larger camera
  • Instant sharing of photos & status updates with social media (Facebook & Twitter)
  • Foursquare! You can check in to places while traveling and then you’ll have a history of all the places you’ve been—excellent tip for those that forget the names of restaurants you want to remember

Internet access while abroad

The biggest challenge to using a smartphone abroad is the SIM card. Do you buy a local one? Do you pay roaming charges on your current plan? On my trip to Spain, I received a complementary SIM card from Holiday Phone.

With my Holiday Phone SIM card, I was able to connect it to my SIM card from home (Germany). Doing so would allow me to send and receive calls from my German number but at a much cheaper rate than if I was calling internationally. The SIM card also had a local Spanish number so any local calls I made from my phone were cheap and affordable! But the absolute best part is that I was able to use my data plan from my German SIM while in Spain. I pay for unlimited internet access on my phone here in Germany, so I was able to enjoy the same while in Spain. AMAZING!

Setting up the SIM card only took a matter of minutes and they provided a short document on how to do it properly as well as details on how to contact for customer support.

One quick note about Holiday Phone: I never successfully set up the call forwarding so anyone who had tried to contact me through my German number while I was abroad didn’t get through to me. Not sure if this was user error or if the process for setting it up was just too complicated for me, but the fact that I could get unlimited internet access through my account was enough for me. It’s all I really wanted anyways.

The Holiday Phone SIM and the Nokia Lumia 800 were both trial versions given to me for the purpose of this review.

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