As of May 2013, 51 percent of American adults owned smartphones, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. If you have one of these phones, you’ve probably gotten used to taking it everywhere with you and may be wondering if you should take your smartphone or your tablet when you go travel abroad to teach. Because these two devices serve much of the same purpose, it’s unlikely that you would need to take both of them on your trip. The following examines the pros and cons of traveling overseas with each device:
Smartphone: The Pros and Cons
As a small device, your smartphone is easy to carry and won’t take up much room in your luggage. Chances are, you already have some type of protective case on your smartphone, which will protect it against many accidental dings, drops and other problems. Perhaps the best argument for taking your smartphone is its overall utility: Your smartphone can guide you to local landmarks, help you translate words you see on signs and menus, allow you to call home to connect with friends and family, and entertain you with games while you are stuck in airports.
To get the most use out of your smartphone while you are abroad, you will need to purchase an international plan that covers the country or countries you’re visiting. Worth noting is that you’re only covered when in areas with cell service. If you phone goes to roaming mode, you’ll be assessed stiff charges per minute of usage. To find out exact charges, it’s best to call your company’s customer service line. As Independent Traveler notes, online literature around this topic can be very confusing.
Finally, ensure you’re fully covered before you leave home by picking up a protective case if you need one from a provider like T-Mobile, which has a wide selection, and an international adapter so you can charge your phone.
Tablet: Pros and Cons
Because your tablet can serve many of the same functions as your smartphone, it’s also very handy to have on you when abroad. The largest tablet screen makes it easier and more enjoyable to game, read, watch movies and write emails to people. It does take up more room than your smartphone, so you’ll need to plan accordingly when packing your bags. And because you can’t just slide your tablet into your pocket, you may be more likely to drop it by accident when jostled in a crowded international city. To preserve your tablet, pick up a tough case made from neoprene or leather before you go, and avoid using the sleeve type cases that make you pull out the device each time you want to use it. Additionally, tablets will attract attention overseas. Be prepared to take extra precautions when using your tablet in public, as a thief may try to rip it from your hand.
Like smartphones, tablets can connect to Wi-Fi automatically. When using Wi-Fi, you can browse the Internet and upload photos of your vacation without having to worry about incurring roaming charges. However, if you cannot get a wireless signal you should avoid using data to prevent roaming fees.