man traveling with International cell phone plans

Cell Phone Plans for International Travel

Everyone needs to take a vacation to relax and recharge from the daily grind of the office or school schedule. Whether your idea of a perfect trip is by the ocean, in a new and upcoming city, or hiking Machu Picchu, nothing feels better than visiting a location on your bucket list! After you’ve booked your flight, lodging, and some activities, the last thing that is on your mind is your cell phone. However, you should think about whether or not you’ll need an international cell phone plan during your trip and what accessories and cell phone gear to bring (like appropriate chargers!). There are pros and cons to taking it with you or leaving it at home to completely disconnect, so there is no one size fits all answer on what is best. If you are a parent, international cell phone plans may be just what you need to check in with your children everyday without racking up pricey charges. If you only want to use your phone to connect to the internet or use maps, you can get away with keeping your data turned off and your wifi on…no international data plan needed! Not sure what type of international cell phone plan you’ll be able to get through your carrier? Let’s take a look into a few options you have with your own carrier or others while traveling internationally with a phone.

 

First and foremost you should contact your cell phone provider to see if your contract includes any international data plans or if there are certain countries that you can call from without accruing additional charges. If your plan doesn’t include any international data or calls, you can easily add on global packages to your plan for the duration of your trip, though be careful to read the small print. Not all of these global data packages include calls! AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and other carriers offer different levels of international cell phone plans so you can easily find one that suits your needs. Here are a few highlights from their plans:

  • AT&T offers 3 levels of international cell phone plans. $10/day for unlimited texts and calls, $40/month for unlimited texts and 200MB of data, or $2.05/MB of data used during international travel.  
  • Verizon offers various plans depending on whether or not you have an unlimited plan through them. However you can join their TravelPass program and use your phone as you normally would in more than 100 countries for $10/day.
  • T-Mobile offers built-in international data plans to their general cell phone plans. If you have a T-Mobile ONE, Simple Choice, New Classic and Select Choice plan, you automatically get unlimited text and data in more than 140 countries.  
  • Sprint offers their International Connect plan for $15/month.  This plan lets qualifying plans call more than 60 countries’ landlines and more than 35 countries’ cell phones without an additional charge. Unlimited texting is also included in more than 180 countries.

 

If you will be staying longer than a month, most international cell phone plans get pricey but you can avoid these charges by purchasing and using a SIM card from the location you are visiting. This will switch your service to a local provider which means for the rest of your trip you will have a new phone number that is local. Don’t worry about losing your original number though because as soon as you place your old SIM card back in your phone, it will return to the number you had stateside.

 

If you don’t plan on bringing your phone but still want a way to get in touch with anyone back home, you can purchase a prepaid calling card which can be used from a payphone or landline. If you’ll be bringing your phone but won’t be adding any international data plans you can still keep in touch with friends and family, as long as you have access to Wi-Fi! Prior to your trip or while you are connected to the internet, you can download maps that will work offline and messaging apps like WhatsApp that will allow you to text when you are connected to Wi-Fi. These are a few of the most budget-friendly options.

 

Now that you’ve figured out what to do with your cell phone while traveling internationally, all you have to do is make sure your passport is ready! You’ll want to make sure it is still valid and isn’t near it’s expiration date prior to your trip. If you need any help getting a new passport and need vital records like your birth certificate, simply visit VitalChek. We can help you get a certified copy of your birth certificate quickly so you can apply for your first passport or apply to renew your current one before your trip!

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