What to do When Something Happens to Your Phone While Traveling
“This is my 5th iPhone in one year.”
I don’t know when my luck did a total 180, but I am that person who always loses her phone or has something happen to it when she travels. I’ve mysteriously lost a phone in Sweden, drowned a phone in Bali, and got a phone stolen in Thailand. I’m cursed.
This bad luck is expensive and frustrating. And I absolutely hate that it’s to the point where I kind of expect it, because the last time it happened, it didn’t phase me. How bad is that?
A lot of people ask me what I do when something like this happens while traveling or living abroad. Like it’s the end of the world or something (it is). But don’t worry, the world keeps spinning and you’ll be reconnected with the interwebz soon.
Here’s my advice for what to do when you have bad phone luck while traveling. May the odds be ever in your favor.
Keep calm & don’t let it ruin your trip
I know you’re mad and confused and hate everyone right now, but keep your cool. It happened and there’s no getting it back (unless by some 1% miracle that a good person out there finds and returns it). The first time I went to Europe, I met a group of Australians who got all of their electronics – GoPro, iPads, Phones – stolen at Tomorrowland. But they talked about it like it was no big deal. They just brushed it off and said, “That’s life. There’s nothing we can do about it.”
I was stunned. If that happened to me, I would be a lost puppy and probably want to go home right away.
Then it happened to me and I had the same attitude that they did. There’s really nothing you can do about it. Move on and don’t let it ruin your trip. I mean, people have traveled FOR YEARS without phones. Why can’t you do the same?
Reach out to friends to see if anyone has a spare
Before you march straight to the next mobile store, check to see if any of your friends have a spare that you can use when you get home or send to you.
You’re probably thinking, with what device do I communicate with them on? Maybe your current non-stolen iPad or laptop that you most likely brought on the trip? If not, go to an Internet cafe. They’re still around.
I got really lucky (major surprise) when I lost my phone in Sweden. A new friend that I made the night that it happened offered me his old iPhone 6 plus! I was absolutely astonished by his generosity and I used that phone until it got stolen a few months later while swimming with monks in Thailand. Merp.
Search Gumtree, Facebook, Craigslist, eBay
If none of your friends can help you out, search these websites to see if anyone is selling a cheap phone. (For Facebook, just search different groups in the city that you’re in. They’re most likely called “buy and sell Stockholm ”).
I knowwwww it’s sketchy. I know. BUT my friend Emma did find a decent iPhone 6 on Gumtree for $350, which I later bought off of her when she upgraded. Still works alright! You just never know.
Go to a sketchy electronics shop
Alright so you asked friends and searched questionable websites, but no luck. So it’s time to go to the second most expensive solution— the city’s electronic shops. Ugh.
Based on where you are in the world, it could be a very sketchy situation. Like when I was in Chiang Mai and the man behind the counter asked for a deposit, then got a messenger to go out and retrieve the phone I wanted (probably from a warehouse full of stolen phones), and then he set it up and I bought it.
You’ll walk away wondering what flaw this *supposedly* “brand new iPhone 5” (emphasis on the air quotes) has. But, oh well.
This will usually cost you anywhere from $200-$400 less than if you were to buy it at the actual Apple, Samsung or whatever phone you have’s store. That “brand new iPhone 5” had a shit battery, by the way. I’ve heard that usually happens when buying from these places because they want you to go back and pay them to replace it. I hate people.
Get a new SIM
Once you get a new phone (who dis?), don’t forget to buy a new SIM card. You can get these for the country you’re in at any 7-Eleven. You won’t have the same number, but you’ll be able to use data on your phone.
When you go back to the motherland, you can sort out a new/old phone number with your provider. In the meantime, go out and have an adventure! There’s a whole world out there ready for you to take pics with your new phone.