Enable iPhone Airplane mode, keep WiFi while traveling

Traveling internationally with an iPhone can be extremely expensive. Even if you arrange for an international plan with your provider, it’s possible to find a staggering bill at the end of the month. Your best bet is to disable cellular data and restrict Internet access to Wi-Fi, but how can you be sure you’ve set your iPhone up properly? It’s easy with Airplane Mode and the Wi-Fi settings. Here’s how.

Airplane Mode terminates all communication to and from your iPhone. Specifically, it switches off:

  • Cellular (voice and data)
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • GPS
  • Location services

To enable Airplane Mode, follow these steps:

  1. Tap Settings
  2. Move the Airplane Mode slider to the On position

You’ll know you’ve done it when an orange airplane icon appears in the upper left-hand corner of your iPhone’s screen (see above). The good news is that it’s possible to enable Wi-Fi while keeping those other protocols shut down. Follow these steps while in Airplane Mode:

  1. Tap Settings
  2. Tap Wi-Fi
  3. Move the slider to the On position

Your iPhone will look for an available or known Wi-Fi network as it typically does. The Wi-Fi indicator appears next to the orange airplane icon.

Now you can make video calls to far-flung friends and loved ones with FaceTime or Skype for iOS via Wi-Fi without incurring huge roaming data costs. FaceTime requires both participants to have an iPhone, while Skype removes that restriction. FaceTime is free, but even Skype Premium and monthly subscriptions are nothing compared to international roaming fees. Imagine video chatting from Barcelona with family back in Scranton for free! My sister and I recently had a video chat between Amsterdam and Massachusetts and it didn’t cost either of us a thing.

While traveling internationally with your iOS device, enable Airplane Mode, flick Wi-Fi back on and video chat via FaceTime or Skype for significantly less money that an international calling plan.