- International phone plans offered by your home service provider
- Pro: Retaining your existing number.
- Cons: low data speed, additional costs
Beware of high postpaid bills. There are many sad stories about excessive roaming charges levied by home carriers.
- Local SIM cards
- Pro: cost-effective
- Cons: difficult to obtain
In some countries there are special regulations on getting a local SIM card, which can make the process time consuming and potentially nerve-wracking.
- International travel phone plans from global carriers
- Pros: a single SIM card that can be used at home and abroad for a fixed price; an international number; best connection for the majority of travel destinations; special calling and data plans.
- Con: potentially expensive
Why not home providers?Even though international phone plans from your home provider can appear quite tempting, you will discover numerous suspicious hidden charges, probably after your vacay, such as additional or high data and text charges or charged incoming calls. In addition, home providers do not usually provide as wide coverage as the international ones. However, home providers can be a reasonable option if you don’t travel a lot or plan on a short trip. In any case, make sure you learn more about roaming charges of your home carrier before making a choice.
Why not local providers?It’s the perfect solution if you are planning a long trip of more than six months. You can avoid using conventional physical plastic cards with the new eSIM technology, which is now available in some countries. However, there are certain technical requirements for your device to support this feature. If your device doesn’t support this feature, you will have to go about it the old way. Keep in mind that getting a local card on the spot can be subject to local regulations. Moreover, you may spend extra time locating the nearest service office. Even a language barrier can be a source of inconvenience. Plus, you cannot use your home number while using the local one.
International phone plans: why do you need them?
International phone plans from global carriers were devised specifically for travellers who need to constantly stay connected during their trip. It will best suit those who travel extensively, for example, celebs, sportsmen, pilots, ship crew, and those staying abroad for long periods of time, ranging from one week to up to three months or more. The purpose of the trip doesn't really matter: whether you're vacationing at Ibiza, exploring the Machu Picchu ruins, or networking and doing business in Paris.
Several factors that determine your choice of international cell phone plans:
- Coverage. Global providers specialise in getting us the best possible connection in our travel destinations. Their coverage is quite impressive (ranging from 160 to 220 countries depending on the carrier), while home providers offer coverage in the most popular travel spots and usually do not cover some remote areas or some parts of Asia and Africa.
- Data. Today we cannot get along without data at work: we use it for checking emails, work chats, and working with CRMs. In our routine life, we use it to access social media or entertainment (e.g. YouTube, Netflix). The same goes for traveling. We need to use Booking, Airbnb, Google Maps, Uber, and many other applications and resources for route planning, booking, and scheduling. Most global carriers offer special data packages, with limited or unlimited data in roaming.
- Calling and SMS. International carriers offer beneficial limited and unlimited options for calling and texting. You can easily stay in touch with your family, friends, and colleagues wherever you go. Finally, being connected gives you the ability to call for an emergency immediately.
Important: If you are going to use an international provider's services, ensure that your phone is unlocked before you insert a new SIM card different from the one of your home carrier.
Best phone plan for international travel
Here, we compare the five popular international service carriers on the following criteria: coverage map, packages and features.