How to Get Your Phone Ready for a Family Vacation

by Micki
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Ready to take off on vacation with your family? Perfecting your travel game goes beyond packing – it’s also all about gearing up your phone to make every journey a snap.

We share our cheat sheet for travelers and parents, spilling the secrets on turning your smartphone into your best travel ally. From cloud backups to make sure your memories are safe, to quick tips for keeping the little ones safer, this article is loaded with savvy advice to smooth out your adventures.

woman on a beach chair with phone for article How to Prepare Your Phone for a Family Vacation

13 Helpful Tips to Get Your Phone Ready for a Family Vacation

Let’s discover how to elevate your phone to your most reliable travel partner.

Turn off roaming for your home cell plan

Before you start your family vacation, turn off roaming for your home cell plan. This is crucial to avoid a hefty and unexpected bill. Roaming charges can pile up really quickly, especially when traveling abroad.

Get an eSIM

Opting for an eSIM like Holafly is a game-changer for travel. Unlike traditional SIM cards, an eSIM gives you a significant amount of data at more affordable rates. You can even pick up an eSIM online before departure.

You won’t get a local phone number with your eSIM, but you can stay connected through apps like Google Voice, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger, ensuring you’re always in touch with loved ones.

Not all phones support eSIM technology. You’ll need to have an unlocked GSM phone to use an eSIM card.

If your phone isn’t eSIM compatible, don’t fret. You have alternatives, like buying a local SIM card upon arrival or exploring roaming plans offered by your home cell carrier.

Colorful artistic image of a woman on a beach holding a smartphone created by DALL-E

Load your phone with travel and entertainment apps

Travel apps can simplify navigation, provide language assistance, and offer local recommendations, enhancing your trip’s efficiency and enjoyment. Entertainment apps, on the other hand, are perfect for keeping both adults and kids entertained during downtime or long travels.

Here are a few of our favorite apps:

  • Currency conversion apps
  • Translation apps
  • Hotel and accommodation booking apps
  • Google Maps
  • Airline apps
  • Weather apps
  • Specialty apps, like the Disney Parks app

Pro tip: download an offline map of your vacation location in Google Maps, in case you’re somewhere without Wi-Fi or a cell signal for data.

Social media icons on a smartphone

Download movies and shows ahead of time

Downloading movies and shows before your vacation lets you and your family have access to entertainment without relying on in-flight Wi-Fi or using precious data. This can make the journey more enjoyable and help manage your children’s screen time with pre-selected content.

Turn off automatic downloads

To avoid unnecessary data consumption and potential additional charges, it’s wise to turn off automatic downloads. Turning off downloads prevents apps from updating in the background, which can use up your data plan without you even noticing.

Pack chargers, adapters, and cables in your carry-on

I always pack chargers, adapters suitable for my destination, and cables in my carry-on luggage. This foresight prevents battery drain emergencies and ensures my devices are always powered up. Because they’re in my carry-on, they’re always close at hand.

kid on smartphone

Learn your battery saver settings

Whenever I’m on vacation, I tend to use my phone a lot more than at home, as I take so many more photos and videos. Because I use my phone so much, my battery drains quickly. When I don’t have a charger handy, I use my phone’s battery saver settings to extend my battery life. Activating battery saver settings reduces the phone’s power consumption by limiting background activity and adjusting screen brightness.

Snag a VPN

A VPN is a Virtual Private Network. A reliable VPN safeguards your online activities by encrypting your data, ensuring your passwords, usernames, credit card details, and other personal information remain secure from prying eyes.

If you haven’t booked tickets yet, you may even be able to use a VPN to get a cheaper flight!

Make sure you have plenty of storage for vacation photos and videos

Imagine this: You see that once in a lifetime sunset, or the perfect picture of your kids playing together in the waves, and just as you go to shoot, your phone warns that it’s out of storage!

Before you get to your destination, take a minute to check if you have extra storage for all of those vacation videos and photos.

Young girl at the beach holding up an airplane toy

Upload your photos and videos to the cloud

To safeguard your vacation memories, ensure all photos and videos are automatically uploaded to a cloud service. This step acts as a crucial backup, protecting against loss or damage to your device. By enabling cloud backup, you can focus on creating more unforgettable memories with your family.

Take backups of your important documents

Before you head out on your trip, snap a pic of your passport, driver’s license, and credit cards, then chase it with screenshots of your travel insurance and all your bookings. This digital packrat approach means you’re always a few taps away from proving your identity or catching that flight, even if your documents decide to take a separate vacation.

Take a quick snap of your suitcase

Think of your suitcase as a treasure chest on wheels. Before zipping it shut, open it up for a photoshoot showcasing its guts—especially the valuables. Then snap it shut and capture its ready-to-roll glory. This visual inventory is your golden ticket in the unfortunate event of a luggage-napping, making insurance claims smoother than your flight’s takeoff.

Pocket-sized emergency contact kit

Transform your phone into a beacon of safety by loading it with essential contacts: your doctor, hotel, and roadside assistance. Elevate your prep game by pinning the nearest hospital at your destination in Google Maps.

living options for aging parents

Safety first

Launching a day of adventure with kids in tow? Capturing their daily ensemble on your phone isn’t just for the ‘gram—it’s your ace in the hole if you get separated. With these photos, describing their outfits down to the last sparkle or superhero logo becomes a cinch.

Bonus tip: Use your phone camera to take a photo of where your car is parked in the airport. Those lots are huge. Do the same on vacation when you park your rental car.

And there you have it, the digital toolkit to turn your phone into the MVP of your travel squad!

We’re all about swapping tales and tips, so if you’ve got a genius hack or a nifty app that’s made your travels smoother, don’t keep it to yourself. Share your best tips in the comments below! Let’s make every trip not just memorable, but downright effortless.

Who knows? Your tip might just be the lifesaver someone needs for their next adventure!

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