The budget backpacker has a few options when it comes to staying connected on the road. Some networks offer the option of using an international plan while staying with your local network. Google’s Project Fi, for example, might be a good choice for some.
Alternatively, you could use a global SIM, offered by companies like WorldSIM. These tend to offer more expensive rates, but give greater convenience. They are useful for the business traveler, or for anyone who needs to remain immediately reachable wherever they are.
Sometimes, a period of disconnection is valuable. It offers time to ponder, to process, and to build self-reliance, but if you absolutely need to stay connected, then for the budget-conscious traveler there is only one way to go. Use a local SIM! It will not only give you cheaper rates, but can get you access to some local promos for calls and data usage.
Read more: 8 Most Important Do’s and Don’ts of Traveling Alone
Here are a few things to consider when buying local SIMs to beat the roaming rip-off:
1. You need to ensure that your phone is unlocked.
If your phone is not unlocked then you will not be able to fit it with any other SIM. Contact your network provider to do this. You also might want to use a dual SIM phone, which would allow you to stay available on your home number and your new local SIM.
2. Do some research on your destination.
In some countries, foreigners are forbidden from purchasing SIM Cards, and others make it quite difficult. In Pakistan for example, it is very difficult for a foreigner to buy a SIM, but other foreigner-friendly countries like Thailand will greet you at the airport with the opportunity to buy a local SIM.
Read more: 5 Places to Visit Bangkok
3. Check the network coverage in your destination.
If you are heading off the beaten path then it is worth knowing that you will have a signal. Coverage maps are usually available on the network provider’s website, or alternatively, you can use Open Signal to check.
Buy the right local SIM and those at home won’t be out of reach
In Sum, being on the go doesn’t necessarily mean being disconnected or breaking the bank. There are other options to stay connected that can also support the local economy. By getting a local SIM you can immediately inform your friends that you have arrived, coordinate your travel plans, phone your accommodation, book a taxi, or tap into 4G and use google maps to find your way.
Find the ideal local SIM for your destination at SIM tourists, along with budget travel advice.
Bicycle flâneur, landscape architect, and writer at SIM Tourist, Kieran Smith hails from the English Midlands and specializes in travel and environmental issues.
*Photos do not belong to Wellington World Travels or SIM Tourist – they were found online and are free to use under Creative Commons
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Author's Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the company in question before planning your trip.
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8 thoughts on “Beat the Roaming Ripoff – Buy Local SIMs”
We got the T-Mobile One World plan in the US which gives us international roaming and texting (albeit at slower speeds). It’s a really handy plan to have, but whenever we enter a country that doesn’t have T-Mobile, we wind up getting the local SIM cards! I do wish that American phones came unlocked. I think so many people have it so lucky to get unlocked phones from the get-go.
We are also using T-Mobile!! It gives us unlimited data, but yeah sometimes it is very slow. At least with unlimited data, we can call and chat for ‘free’.
Super helpful, I needed this. Thank u
Glad you find it helpful! All the best! x
A very helpful post! I pinned it for future reference as my family and I are hoping to do increase our “off the grid” camping and hiking experiences now that the kids are getting older. Thank you!
Thank you so much! Good luck to your off the grid camping and hiking 😀
I agree sometimes it’s really nice to be ‘off the grid’ – I love times where I’m forced to disconnect because it helps me better connect with my surrounding and even myself more! When I was traveling in Europe I just bought a cheap phone from a local country that worked in the UK (where I was studying) and a few other countries, which was great for when I traveled for the weekends! It’s another good alternative to buying a local SIM
I totally agree with you! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a good day.