Should You Get A Cellular Data Plan On Your Next Trip?

Should You Get A Cellular Data Plan On Your Next Trip?

Mobile phones have made navigation, transportation, communication with loved ones back home, and sharing your experiences with social circles easier than ever. When traveling, however, you may need a plan to use your device. 

Luckily, cellular and e-data companies are keeping up with travelers’ needs, providing travel plans that allow long- and short-term travelers to purchase a plan that works for them. On the newer end of the spectrum are e-sim cards, which can be installed via a downloadable app to your device. Plans are priced depending on period of time, and breadth of data. So if you want unlimited data for a month, it will cost you more than a two week 5 gigabyte plan. 

However, these plans will make your current cellular number inaccessible, and will disconnect you from your cellular provider back at home. For this reason, many travelers, especially those on shorter trips and vacations, might want to stick with their cellular provider’s travel plan. 

Sticking with your cellular provider’s travel plan

These plans vary depending on company, but for the U.S. ‘s two top cellular providers, AT&T and Verizon, frequently preferred plans hover around $10 per day for unlimited data. These plans allow you to call and text from your normal number while abroad, and use your data as usual to roam social media and post photos from your trip. However, this plan is oftentimes the most costly option, so it works best for those who are traveling for shorter stints. You can also opt for longer term plans like Verizon’s one month, unlimited data plan, which costs $100. 

Explore your travel plan options with AT&T here.  Explore your travel plan options with Verizon here. 

You can also opt for the new Google Fi wireless travel plan. Various plans with Google Fi offer access to data around the world. Get the most bang for your buck with the Unlimited Plus plan, which allows you to make calls to other countries with little or no additional cost, and free international texting. With this plan, get international data in over 200 destinations. All Google Fi plans also include data, calls and text within the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Learn more about Google Fi’s travel plan here.

Getting a new sim card while abroad

If you’re settling into one place for a while, you might want to consider getting a new SIM card for your device at a kiosk in your destination. Popular tourist destinations have these kiosks in high-volume areas. You’ll need to remove your home carrier SIM card from your phone manually and place the new one in. This will put you under a data plan with the carrier kiosk in your destination, meaning you’ll be given a new number and no longer will be operating under the terms of your home cellular provider. You can select different data plans for varying periods of time and amounts of data. If selecting this option while abroad, be sure to understand the limits of your plan, as kiosks can’t always account for travel to other countries. If you know you’ll be traveling between countries, select a plan with wider coverage. Also be aware that some of these carriers are also known to take advantage of tourists, up charging them, and sometimes charging for a faulty plan. 

Opting for an E-Sim

An E-Sim is the newest solution being offered to travelers. An E-Sim takes away the third party and simply provides an application for obtaining a digital sim card with the same benefits as a physical sim card obtained from a carrier kiosk. Download the app, choose your destination country, select a period of time and desired data usage.  Popular options include easy-to-use Airalo and Saily. Then you should be able to switch plans in the settings of your device. This simple option is great for the basics, though it may not work as quickly as your home provider’s travel plan, it allows you to communicate with loved ones, navigate, shop and post online as you please during your travels. Just make sure to pick a plan that fits your data usage!

After you install the app, you will no longer have your original home country phone number, but you can easily use data to contact your loved ones on messaging apps like Whatsapp, which uses your phone number as an identifier between you and other users. So if you have an iPhone, this app will take the place of iMessage during your time abroad. An E-Sim still allows you to use data to utilize video calling applications on your device, typically through the email associated with your device’s account. You will not receive a new number, so make sure you have a plan for using your data to message, email, and call.

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