When traveling to a different country, if you use your smartphone like you do back home, you might face exorbitant fees reaching hundreds of dollars. To stay connected overseas without breaking the bank, you need a well-thought-out plan. Let’s get the travel phone ready for the long journey.
#1 Use Virtual Cell Phone
Google Fi, a virtual cell phone service provider, distinguishes itself by partnering with local cell phone providers to offer cell, data, and text services instead of owning its towers. Not limited to U.S. providers, Google Fi extends its services to over 200 countries, catering to the needs of frequent international travelers.
Upon arrival in a foreign country, users can easily disable airplane mode and utilize their phones as if they were at home, enjoying unlimited free texting and data at their regular Google Fi rates. The only additional charge may come from phone calls, which are priced at a flat rate of 20 cents per minute for both international and domestic calls.
One drawback of Google Fi is that data prices can be relatively high compared to other U.S. cell phone service options, depending on the chosen plan.
#2 Use an Airplane Mode
Utilize it exclusively (aside from camera functionalities) when Wi-Fi connectivity is available. Certain phones and applications automatically retrieve data when the phone is connected and powered on, incurring charges even when not actively making calls. For voice communication, employ apps like WhatsApp (ideal for sharing photos with friends), FaceTime, Skype, Google Voice, Viber, and Facebook Messenger.
#3 Cyber Threat Protection
At the level of sensations, we all experience discomfort in front of the unknown, and this is normal. Frankly speaking, travel abroad does involve physical and digital risks. To improve the resistance of your devices to hacks, you will need a VPN. What’s more, VPN for iPhone can unblock any website or prevent your bank accounts from being blocked. If you did not know, then transactions from abroad are considered suspicious and the bank can freeze them automatically. The VeePN will protect you from these risks and reduce the risks from cyber threats.
#4 Utilize an eSIM Card
eSIM cards present a cutting-edge solution for obtaining a local number hassle-free, bypassing the need to search for a physical SIM card upon arrival at your destination. Instead, you can simply purchase and download an eSIM directly onto your phone to seamlessly connect to cellular networks and access data while abroad.
Numerous providers offer eSIMs for sale online, providing various options and pricing tailored to your destination and usage requirements. Therefore, it is crucial to conduct thorough research and read reviews before making a purchase. For illustrative purposes, let’s delve into the offerings of one provider.
Airalo, for instance, offers a wide range of eSIMs covering over 190 countries and regions. You have the flexibility to search for eSIMs based on specific countries or regions or opt for a global eSIM that grants coverage in 87 countries.
#5 Get an International Plan
Phone carriers provide their customers with various international plans. Sprint and T-Mobile, for example, offer monthly plans that include unlimited overseas texting and data without any additional charges, as well as phone calls at a rate of 25 cents per minute. However, you can avoid these fees by switching to airplane mode (refer to tip number
For Verizon customers, there is a Travel Pass plan available for $10 per day, which provides unlimited calling, texting, and data. The charges apply only when you use the plan. AT&T also offers an International Day Pass with the same benefits for $10 per day. Google has its wireless phone service called Google Fi, which covers texting and data both domestically and internationally, while overseas calls come at a rate of 20 cents per minute. The Federal Communications Commission maintains a list of select service providers and their contact information for inquiries about their international plans.
#6 Buy a Local SIM Card
Experienced globetrotters may recall the days when obtaining a local SIM card proved vital for staying connected while abroad. However, even today, amidst various alternatives, opting for a local SIM card can still be a wise choice. Consider a scenario where you find yourself in a foreign country or region for an extended period—a local SIM card option emerges as the optimal solution for making affordable local calls.
#7 Analyze Promotions from Mobile Operators
To maintain connectivity abroad without breaking the bank, opt for T-Mobile or Sprint as your cell phone provider. These carriers offer plans with complimentary text and data services for international travel. However, keep in mind that data speeds may be limited with these budget options.
T-Mobile customers with plans such as Magenta, New Classic, Select Choice, or Simple Choice can enjoy unlimited 2G data, unlimited texting, and calls at 25 cents per minute across 210 destinations. It’s important to note that 2G data speeds are comparable to old-fashioned dial-up internet, limiting functionality. For faster data speeds, consider purchasing an International Pass, which provides a set amount of data and unlimited calling for a specific number of days.
Similarly, Sprint customers receive free text messages and 2G data, along with 25 cents per minute calling, when traveling to over 200 destinations. Like T-Mobile, Sprint customers have the option to purchase data packages that enable 4G/LTE data roaming for as low as $5 per day.
The best solution depends on your U.S. cell phone service, travel destination, and data needs. Opt for T-Mobile or Sprint if you only need basic data for emails and directions while abroad, saving you from extra charges.
However, for high-speed data, explore options like eSIMs or getting a local SIM card. And if you desire the convenience of using your cell phone worldwide like you would at home, consider Google Fi or an international add-on plan.