How to Stay Connected While Traveling Internationally

Local SIM cards are the best for most travelers, but if you want the best connection, combine a local sim with a good carrier.

Travelers can use the best international sim card and data plan.

Why is internet access so important?

It is possible to plan less before traveling with consistent internet access. I have gone as far as not planning to go to a different country until two days before the trip.

I can keep an eye on the essentials and plan the non-essentials as late as possible when I arrive in the new country, thanks to internet access.

Is an international sim card worth it? During the last year of international travel, I’ve found an international data plan to be helpful.

  • It saves money and avoids being ripped off to use local ride-sharing services.
  • Facetiming with friends and family at epic sites so they can experience the travel with me.
  • History and culture are brought to life when you look up information about a site or location while wandering.
  • Planning and booking accommodations, transportation, and tours during long stretches of travel, such as on buses or trains, to make good use of seat time, and spend less time planning when I am in a destination or before travel.
  • Last minute planning and checking include visa information, or searching for common scam in a country.

World Nomads provides travel insurance support. If I keep their number handy, I can call for help or confirm I am covered before a potentially expensive doctor visit. I did the Everest Trek.

  • Access to local public transport schedules on demand
  • And the list goes on…

Getting a sim card and keeping access to the internet is a cheap way to stay safe if you are moving quickly or taking a lot of risks.

T-Mobile, local sim cards, and Google-fi are the best options international data sim europe for staying connected.

The best ways to stay connected while traveling.

You can purchase a local T-Mobile One for each country and region.

The options have pros and cons. When moving frequently between countries and a local sim card is your best option, as it will give you the best coverage and save you money.

Option 1: Using local Sim Cards

If you’re stuck in one spot for more than two weeks, a local card is the best option. If you have a unlocked cell phone, they are easy to start on. If you don’t know if your phone is unlocked, you should contact your provider. Call your service provider to have your phone unlocked if it’s locked.

While I write this article, I am practicing what I preach.

If your phone provider won’t let you use it, you should consider buying one abroad. There are a lot of cheap phones that can give you the processing power of a S9 on anANDROID platform. The best part is that they are only about $100USD. You can find the phone you need if you head downtown. You can buy an unlocked phone on Amazon.

The airport and bus station have information desks.

You can start by stopping at the information kiosk in the airport or bus station. You can either buy a sim card from the information kiosks or from the desk.

There is a cell phone service vendor in the airport.

Outside of the airport or bus station, you can find the sim cards at kiosks. Look for a picture of a card or sign.

If you know what neighborhood this is in, you’ll get extra points.

I picked up my phone from a kiosk in the Canggu area when I arrived in Indonesia. I paid $4USD for one month of 4G data. I will suspend my T-Mobile line for $10 a month, saving me about $55 a month on my phone bill, and allow me to sidestep T-Mobile’s “3 months abroad” rule**, because I’m here.

Local sim cards are an option for data while traveling.

Pros of using a local SIM Card

The cheapest option is usually between $5 and$15 for 3 to 7 gigabytes of data.

Cons of Using a Local SIM Card

  • You’ll need an unlocked phone

By the end of your trip, you may have 10 different cards in your bag.

Option 2: Using T-Mobile One for International Travel

I use T-Mobile One to stay connected abroad and I have used it for a year. I can arrive, turn on my phone, and be connected in over 200 countries with T-Mobile One. It was easy.

Vietnam, Laos, and Lebanon are the countries I haven’t been able to use T-Mobile in. I have tested T-Mobile in 19 countries and only 3 of them weren’t covered, and I picked up a local sim for less than $5 in each of those countries.

What is T-Mobile? It’s the best option for international travel of less than 2 weeks.

T-Mobile One is a flat $70 per month plan that offers unlimited text, voice, and data in the US and unlimited text and 3G data in over 200 countries. You can keep in touch with friends and family wherever you are.

You can use your number abroad with this plan. It’s possible to send a verification text for security when your bank, or other financial institutions need it. When you are outside of the US for more than a few months, this is more useful than you think.

…But… there are two catches to T-Mobile One…

You have to setup T-Mobile One in the US before you can move to another country. If you want to use T-Mobile One, set it up early.

You can only roam internationally for 3 months with T-Mobile One before returning to the US. If you travel internationally for more than 3 months, they will suspend your service until you return to the US, but there is a travel hack that can keep your service up.

Simply suspend and restart your service if you want to maintain your T-Mobile One service past three months. Wow! The clock for your three months of international roaming starts at zero and restarts.

Schedule your phone to be suspended for a few days and then restart your service by going into “My T-Mobile” within your online account. You will receive a text when your service is suspended, and you will also receive a text when it is restored. During the period of suspension, you will not be charged the normal $70 per month, just a $10 a month for the period.

One of the benefits of T-Mobile One is the ability to easily suspend your number for only $10 per month and restart your service by hopping online and clicking a few buttons. You will keep the same number when your service is restored.

The T-Mobile One plan costs $35 per line with international text and data.

You can get up to two lines for only $35 and include international text and data, but you have to be over 55 years old.

If you are over 55 years old and know someone who is, T-Mobiles 55+ is the best international sim card and data plan. They like that.

Review of T-Mobile One for International Travel

Pros of T-Mobile One for International Travel

  • For only $70 per month, you can get unlimited texts and 3G data.
  • It is easy to suspend via online dashboard.
  • You can receive text messages at a single phone number.
  • You can cancel at any time with no penalty, since T-Mobile One requires no contract.
  • If your phone breaks or you upgrade your phone, you can switch to another phone.

Cons of T-Mobile One for International Travel

International roaming is limited for 3 months.

It’s more expensive than a local one.

Only provides 3G speeds internationally unless you upgrade

Depending on the country you are in and T-Mobile’s partner carrier, there can be spotty data coverage.

The coverage in the US can be weak at times.

T-Mobile One is a good option for international travel.

It is a great option that you have to set up while at home, but having consistent internet on arrival in most countries is priceless. $10 a month to maintain the line isn’t much, if you decide to use a local sim. If you want to get overseas, start with T-Mobile and cancel later. I switched to T-Mobile from ATT a few years ago and have been using the service for 1.5 years.

I love the plan of the internet company. You can get free data in 170+ countries. Your bill is tiered based on how much data you use and you will never pay more than $60 per month for data and $20 for talk and text, but you only pay for the data you use up to 6 gigabytes. The bill is between $30 and $80 a month, but never more. If you add someone to your plan, you can add a device for free. That is pretty good. Why don’t I recommend it?

You need to own a phone from the company to get on the plan. You will have to buy a phone if you don’t have a phone. If you swap phones abroad, you might not be able to get back on your plan because you broke your phone.

If you own a phone from the company, you can still use the service for international travel. If you decide to use a local phone number, you can suspend your service.

If you are going to be in a country for two weeks or more, you might want to consider getting a local sim for your phone.

Review of Google-Fi for International Travel

Pros of the Google-Fi Plan for Travel

Provides you with data and text in over 170 countries.

  • Easily suspended (when using a local SIM)

Add a device to your data plan for free.

Bill is cheaper if you use less data.

Cons of the Google-Fi Plan for Travel

  • Requires a Google Phone

If the phone breaks while you are traveling, you can’t use the sim on any other phone.

  • Must be activated while stateside

The fourth option is combining T-Mobile and a local sim.

The best option is to combine a reliable US carrier sim, that offers free international roaming in its plan and the option to suspend service easily, like T-Mobile. You can save money by suspending your service when using a local one. If you’re traveling quickly through countries that don’t have a local sim, you should use your existing T-Mobile or Google Fi service. Done.

Cheap calls can be made via a number of methods.

With one of the four options you have data, but what about voice? You will likely need to make a call at some point if you are trying to find a villa, find a tour office, or call home to handle business. You can make voice calls over your data connection with the help of the above mentioned companies.

  • You only pay for the calls you make.
  • You can call friends on their phone numbers, not on Facebook or Facetime.
  • It’s a way to call support lines back at home.

If you want to add credit to your account outside of the US, you have to load it first.

If you want to start using either, you need to download the apps. Just download and use it for free. Having them for redundant is better than having them for only one. You will be able to make calls to anywhere in the world over a data connection.

Google Hangout Dialer

T-Mobile and local sim are the best ways to stay connected while traveling outside of the US.

T-Mobile One is the best option for travelers who want to travel internationally. Including international data coverage is included. If you will be in one country for two weeks or more, you should pay $5-15 to get a local sim and suspend T-Mobile service. This approach will give you the best coverage for the lowest price.

Travelers with a phone from the company should consider the Google-fi program for international travel.

Stay connected while abroad with these useful articles.

  • Picking a cell phone for traveling abroad**

T-Mobile One can be turned off while traveling.

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The links on the Resources Page can be used to book a trip. This keeps the content free and the advertising free.

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