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.
Using your phone abroad needn’t be expensive, or inconvenient.
Here are a few things to consider when buying local SIMs:
Firstly 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.
Secondly, 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.
Third, 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 providers 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 tourist, along with budget travel advice.
About the author:
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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Booking a Flight. When finding cheap flights, we try a combination of search engines to ensure we’re not missing out on the best deals. We use SkyScanner, Expedia, Kiwi.com, Kayak, and Google Flights, then compare them to the prices shown on the airlines’ website.
Booking an Accommodation. We prefer staying in hotels. Booking.com is our favorite when it comes to finding the cheapest rate. Again, it won’t hurt to check the hotel’s main website. They usually offer discounts for booking directly with them. For last-minute booking, check out HotelTonight. There are also other types of accommodation like Airbnb, hostel (Hostelworld has the largest inventory), and Couchsurfing.
Sightseeing & Tours. We like DIY tours – it gives you freedom and flexibility. You can take advantage of the CityPass and Sightseeing Pass. But we have joined in several tours that maximized our time and made our trip easier. Feel free to check out Intrepid, and Trusted Tours & Attractions for discounted offers.
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