Cell Phone-less Abroad




One of my greatest challenges while living abroad was learning how to live without a cell phone plan. As someone who’s majoring in information systems, I’m always using technology. I always need to feel connected. I’m constantly using Instagram to upload pictures or I’m usually messaging my friends and family.

So I knew I wanted to get a phone plan when I was abroad, not just to keep in touch but to be able to use google maps. However, the phone plan wouldn’t work on my phone so I couldn’t rely on maps to get around. I also would not be able to use Uber. Because of this adjusting to not having a phone plan was really difficult, especially when I would go on weekend trips by myself. I also had to wait until I had WiFi to keep in touch with family.

One of the pros of not having cell phone signal was that I was able to live in the moment. I noticed it this weekend when I was out with my friends. We went on a hike and I was there enjoying the views but one of them was desperately trying to get her phone plan to work. When it wouldn’t, she said, “How am I supposed to update everyone?” I noticed how I don’t worry about that as much anymore. I just wait until I get back to my hostel or dorm to post anything.

Another pro was all the people I got to meet. Whenever I met another solo traveler in my hostel, I would ask if I can tag along with them. They always said yes and I was able to make a new friend along the way.

Unfortunately, I’m not the best at reading maps and because of this I would often have a few close calls when it came to catching my flight or train back home. I did, however, learn not to be afraid to ask for directions and that would usually put me on the right path.
I would also not be able to use Uber so getting around would be kind of difficult. I’ve had to use public transportation and a map or at times, have to hail a taxi.
I remember when a couple friends of mine came to visit. When I was walking them out of the old town square so they could get to their Uber, they asked how I would get home. I told them that I sort of have an idea of where to go and that I’ll keep walking until I found a tram stop. They looked at me in horror and asked how I could do that and that they wouldn’t know what to do without phone service. I didn’t know what to do in the beginning too, but it made me learn how to be more adaptable.

Although traveling without a plan is tough, it’s still manageable. I found that even though I usually get lost in every country that I’m in, I always find my way back. If anything, I learned how to be spontaneous and flexible.

Enjoying the view.