Traveling should allow you to disconnect from your day-to-day life and leave all those emails and phone calls waiting for you at home. We all know that when you travel you have to turn off your data or leave it on and get a huge data roaming bill. Turning off means you become a slave to free WiFi, which is fine if you want to stay in the hotel all day, or don’t mind scouring the streets for a café that offers WiFi. But, what about the times when you are lost, can’t find any free WiFi spots with a secure connection? You’ll definitely need an alternative. No problem, there are a few solutions….
These are the 2 options for you if you want to use your phone while in another country:
Data Roaming Bundles
Use a WiFi Router. Don’t worry, it sounds very high tech and complicated but it’s not! It’s a pocket-sized device that you insert any SIM card into, switch on and it gives you internet anywhere in the world. You can use a worldwide data SIM as mentioned above, or you can use a local SIM if it gives you better rates. The good thing about portable WiFi Routers is that you can choose the SIM for the destination, meaning you get the best deal on data wherever you go. Most portable WiFi devices will enable you to set up your own private WiFi connection for 10 devices, however, there are some models like the Alcatel Y858V 4G WiFi Hotspot that enable you to get online on up to 15 devices.
Use a Data roaming USB
A data roaming USB is great to have if you are traveling with your laptop. Just pop a SIM card inside, plug into your computer and start browsing. They are like the portable WiFi routers mentioned above but you can only access the internet on the one device (your computer) unless you use something like the Huawei E8372 4G WiFi USB which enables you to browse on up to 10 devices.
Use Apps That Don’t Need Data Roaming.
If you think you have enough free WiFi options to get you by the majority of the time you might need something when you are on the move. For example maps.me is essential on any trip as it doesn’t use data (download the map of the country you are visiting before you leave or download it when you have free WiFi). You can plot all the places you want to visit and where your hotel is so you can always find your way back – it’s a lifesaver. Other apps like Triposo are pretty good offline travel guides and Pocket enables you to read articles offline. These apps are all free and do not need an internet connection to operate.
FreedomPop (in the US) also claims to have a “100% Free Basic Plan – 500 texts, 200 minutes, and 500 MB each month” it does work, we tested it, but make sure to cancel the bigger (not free) plan in which they will automatically enroll you for free, but for the first month only! It is easy to forget it and one has to pay the $30 fees for this one at the end of the month! But if you do cancel it before, it is very useful and free.
Local prepaid SIM card
The best option, in my opinion, is the local prepaid SIM card. It is usually much cheaper than back home.
This option is great if you plan on visiting only one country or 2 countries during the same month, otherwise the fees can add up quickly. Some companies are starting to offer international SIM in your tablet or iPad, in a portable WiFi device or in any other WiFi-enabled device. It will enable you to access the internet in 188 countries, for up to 85% less. What’s more, you can add data bundles to your data SIM card which give you massive savings in many destinations including Europe, USA, Canada, Asia and Australia to name a few. You can grab a free data SIM card pay for the bundle or pay as you go. You will need to ensure that your device is unlocked to use the new SIM card’s network. They tend to be more expensive than most single-country SIM cards obviously. You can also buy an unlocked phone from any local phone company. Amazon has many options to choose from.
It is possible to stay connected while traveling and not break the bank with international roaming fees. You can either add a travel bundle to your existing phone plan or get a local SIM card in the country you are traveling to.