Step 2: Compare cellular and data service providers

If you have a GSM phone, or a CDMA “World Phone”, you have options.

There are dozens of choices when it comes finding the best cellular and data service provider to meet your needs when you are traveling, and the options keep growing with technology.


The simplest option is to keep your existing phone number and simply “roam” with your home service provider. The local provider in the place you are visiting bills your home provider at a rate determined through a roaming agreement, and your home provider bills you.

International phones and SIM cards

For people who travel a lot, it might be worth purchasing an international SIM card, allowing you to have one international phone number wherever you go, but providing you with much cheaper local rates for calls in 180+ countries.

Local SIM cards

If you are planning on spending a lot of time in one place or region, the cheapest option for you will be to purchase a local SIM card in the country you are visiting and slide it into your GSM world phone.

It will be more expensive for your family and friends back home to reach you, but there are enormous benefits in terms of connecting with locals when you have a local phone number. And you can always forward your home number to a VoIP forwarding service to re-direct your phone calls to your new local number for free.


Data service can be very expensive even with a local SIM card or international SIM card, and your best bet may be to join Wi-Fi networks instead to use services requiring data like surfing the web, using apps, downloading maps, and sending MMS message. And if you need to place a phone call, you can use a VoIP service instead of your cellular network.



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