If your carrier doesn’t support international calling (I have T-Mobile, which does), the cheapest way to maintain a functioning phone is usually to purchase a local SIM card, especially if you’re traveling for more than a few days and you can “unlock” your phone (see what that means here). In short, you take out your phone’s normal SIM card (it looks like a small computer chip) and swap in the local one, which you can usually buy for cheap in an airport or electronics store. When you return home, you simply remove the local SIM card and pop your normal one back in.
In a great post for the New York Times, Geoffrey Morrison offers help finding and using a local SIM card. There are a few things to note, including the fact that your phone number is different while the local SIM card is in, but as he writes, once you know how to do it, your international calling and data troubles will be over (or a least lessened):
“For years that’s how I’ve gotten cheap data in dozens of countries all over the world. I’d arrive in a city, head to a local cellphone company store (like Vodafone, 3, or Orange), and buy a SIM and a month of service. These would have different names, like ‘pay-as-you-go’ or ‘prepaid.’ but in every store I’d just say I was traveling and wanted a SIM for a few weeks, and they all knew what I was looking for. Put the new SIM in your phone (make sure you don’t lose your old one, you’ll need it when you go home!) and you’re all set. If you’re not sure how to do that, the store will probably do it for you. You can be in and out with cheap high-speed data in less than 30 minutes.”
- This Website Helps You Make International Calls Anywhere in the World
- The App That Makes International Calling Cheap and Easy
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