Hi Fellow Barclay Travel Community Members:
One of the challenging aspects of overseas travel is finding smartphone data/talk/text plans that do not result in massive surcharges and other nasty surprises. I am probably going to switch carriers soon and I would like to find a plan that gives me at least some basic text/data while in Europe (the UK in particular) and perhaps Australia (bucket list).
I am not interested in streaming videos or consuming massive amounts of data. (seriously, who wants to watch streaming TV when they could be exploring a foreign country?) I just want to be able to send a text "just landed - got to hotel, etc" and do basic stuff like look at maps, check weather forecast, etc.
Has anybody found an international data/text/talk plan that they are happy with? Has anybody tried using Google Fi, etc? Conversely, have you been beset by unpleasant charges and other surprises?
I use fi. It's worked well when I travel. Data is the same price overseas. Depending where you are there can be a slight per minute charge for talk, but if you are conected to wifi it will route through that instead. Hope this helps!
I have gotten around this in multiple ways! The easiest is "WhatsApp". Download it and load your contacts in before you head out and its a third party text/call app that has never let me down. Though you do need WIFI to operate I've never had issues finding wifi when I travel.
Another option is sticking to good ol Facebook Messenger. If you have the app it will allow you to message and call people (again with wifi).
2 other options are RingCentral and Skype as apps. Both are "pay as you go" but you can talk/text with WIFI, but both offer international options that allow you to use cellular networks. $5 for 1 60 minutes of talk time isnt bad and both can be used on a computer as well to make calls for free.
You can always "jailbreak" your phone which I did on a 3 month working holiday in Scandinavia. Basically you head on over to a cell phone store and they can give you a SIM card for much cheaper than what you will pay for a phone plan in the US. Then you upload an international plan into it (This cost me $60 a month) and you are home free to talk/text/utilize data whenever and where-ever you want. The caveat is if your US cell network catches on they can fine you or cancel your plan.
Good thoughts all around. I will plan to make use of Messenger. Hopefully my messenger contacts can pass the word to friends and family who don't use these services.
I like your username. I understand that my last name is very common on the Isle of Skye. I need to get over there!
BelfryBat, I have Sprint and have used it all over. I have the Sprint Unlimited 55 plus. There is an unlimited plan for under 55 also but I don’t know the price. I get free text and data in most of the world. Plus in most places it is only 25 cents a minute for calls. I don’t use voice calls unless I’m calling through WiFi. Plus we get a personal hotspot on each phone. For the 55 plus program it’s $75 a month plus all the extra taxes and fees. Coverage has been great but the data is pretty slow but I don’t have a problem with that. If you want to send pictures via text just don’t send too many at once. Check it out. I won’t change.
Thanks Gefe. I was looking at Sprint fairly strongly. They seem to have some pretty good plans for overseas. I really do not like shopping for cell phone plans so I appreciate all the good advice on here.
I forgot to mention, in Mexico, Canada and much of the Caribbean voice calls are free as well. There is list somewhere on the Sprint site that tells what is included in the plan. I wish I could tell you how to get right to it but I always seem to spend time searching. I love the plan and my old man discount. HaHaHa!
Hi BelfryBat, we use t-mobile and its very similar to what @ Gefe57 is describing. We have service in 120 countries. Our plan at home includes unlimited text, 6 GB data (thereafter it just slows down) and unlimited calls (including Mexico and Canada). When we travel internationally, we still get unlimited text, data at 2G and calls vary between 12 and 25 cents. We also use the Skype App. We have a grandfathered plan (we use the service since years) for unlimited calls to landlines in 120 countries, some of them include calls to mobile phones. Costs us $ 99 annually but it is more expensive now for new customers. T-mobile is a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom who are one the leading providers in Europe. In my opinion, they are the to go to provider. Germans travel quite a bit, so Deutsche Telekom has to make sure their main customers are satisfied (just a thought). T-mobile is merging with Sprint if our politicians get their act together and outlay the rules for the merger. It is dragging on for quite a while and Sprint needs a partner for the 5G rollout as this will be expensive.
I use a combination of WhatsApp and Verizon. I keep my cellular data turned off, so I can only use WiFi when traveling. However, my Verizon plan has an international feature that gives you voice, text, and data for $10 per day. Here is the advantage of that... you only pay when you actually use it. So if I am overseas (like I am at this moment) and I need to do something, but aren’t connected to WiFi, I simply turn my cellular data on. Verizon charges me $10 for the next 24 hours. When I am done doing what I needed to do, I turn my data off again. Typically, I can get away with never using the service, or for just a day or two. This has been much cheaper than getting a formal plan.
Another option is using an old phone and buying a local SIM card when you get to your destination. This can also be very cheap, but you will be using a new phone number, so that option might be confusing for family members. Good luck!