When I moved to South Korea in 2017, going 50/50 with my friends became pretty hard when we realized you couldn't get Venmo without a U.S. phone number. It also became pretty hard for me to call back to the United States to deal with issues such as; 'what jobs do you have open for my next PCS?', 'where is my car title and how do I get that?', and the 'hey please don't tell my mom about the weapon I've been storing in her basement for the past year when you pick up my Household Goods, ask the younger woman'. That last phone call was pretty pointless, because they asked my mother to show them the weapon as soon as they got there.
So to help you before your big move abroad, here are a little tips for your smart phone before you leave.
1. Hold your U.S. phone number
If you are in the military or work for the government, you can put your phone service on hold, keep your phone number, and pay $0 for that line while you are on orders. Just call your service to ask how. For Verizon, I just had to show them my military orders and my phone number was frozen.
2. Payment Apps
Venmo is a great way to split a cab, drinks at a bar, concert tickets, or a hotel room. It came in handy during Saint Patrick's Day in Seoul when the line for drinks was SO long so one person ordered the rounds. However, my boyfriend didn't download Venmo before he left, and we did everything together. Concert tickets, plane tickets, hotel rooms, taxis, etc. I was weeks before either of us could get cash and pay each other back, it was a headache.
I was super disappointed when I found out my playlists on Pandora didn't work in South Korea. I had to download another free app called Musi, which I do recommend, I just had to completely remake my playlist. But, first world problems. I Heart Radio is also a good app for music, that you can only download while you are in the United States.
4. International Calling
Whenever I had to make international calls to businesses in the United States, I couldn't just use Facebook or WhatsApp. It was also late at night due to the time difference in South Korea, so I couldn't just use someone else's app at work. I ended up using my boyfriend's phone since he had Talkatone downloaded already. With Talkatone, you can also get a notional U.S. phone number that businesses can call you back on. Talkatone is free! But in case you want to shop around some more, click here.
Note: There were times that my banks wanted to text my American phone number to verify it was me. I was lucky when they asked for my email. And at times, the USAA App saved me. If you want to be extra careful, get a fake U.S. phone number through an app, and connect it to your bank accounts.
Other than those crucial apps, most apps should be available all over the world! Let me know if you can think of any more!