Taking an international trip used to wreak havoc on your cell phone bill. But these days, it’s surprisingly affordable to stay connected when traveling abroad thanks to a variety of options.
Before you leave, contact your carrier to see if they offer free international roaming or daily roaming passes. For example, T-Mobile lets you roam for free in many countries while AT&T and Verizon typically charge $10 a day. Just keep in mind data speeds may be slower than what you’re used to at home.
Pro tip: check with your carrier to see if you’ve banked any free roaming days with your plan for being a longtime customer.
Before you go, make sure to enable Wi-Fi calling on your iPhone or Android so you can make calls and send texts over Wi-Fi hotspots overseas. If you want to avoid the headache and confusion of roaming charges completely, be sure to toggle Roaming off in your settings before you takeoff.
When you land, you can purchase an international SIM card at the airport to get affordable data on a local network. Just be sure to call your provider first to be sure your phone isn’t locked to their network. If it is, you might not be able to use it overseas on another carrier.
Bette yet, if your supports eSIM technology, which many modern devices do, you can buy and install a prepaid eSIM before you go. Then, when you land all you have to do is toggle it on in your phone’s settings. My favorite provider is called Airalo. I’ve used them in various countries and only had a small issue with it not working once due to my phone being incompatible.
If you’re traveling with a group or you’re a frequent traveler, consider a dedicated portable Wi-Fi hotspot. I tested the $400 Solis 5G on a recent trip to Berlin and it worked great. It’s especially convenient because you can connect up to 16 devices. Keep in mind you have to purchase your data directly from the device’s manufacturer, so you can’t shop around. But their prices are competitive and there’s no contracts.
You used to be able to find lots of companies that would rent you a portable Wi-Fi hotspot but they’re getting tougher to find since roaming has become so cheap, and phones can now do the same thing.
Bottom line: with a little planning, you can easily stay connected overseas without spending a fortune.