This is chapter 6 of a 15 part series about digital nomading and location independence. To see all of the other chapters, click here!

There are two phone plan options when you’re traveling: use a home country plan abroad or buy a new plan in every country.

My Recommendation:

It will be much cheaper to ditch your home country plan and buy a SIM card in each country. Plus, you’re likely to have faster data than if you bring your domestic plan abroad.

Here’s how to do this:

1.  Make sure you have an unlocked phone

  • Without an unlocked phone, you won’t be able to use SIM cards from international carriers.

2. Buy a SIM card when you arrive in each country

  • I always Google which provider to use and how to buy a SIM card before arriving in a country. You can usually buy a SIM card at the airport – but not always.

3. Maintain access to your U.S. number for $20 with Google Voice

  • You can port your existing phone number to Google Voice for a one-time fee of $20. This enables you to text over Wifi or data for free using your current number.

4. Use Gmail or Skype to make calls back to your home country

  • With Google Voice, you can call American numbers for free via Gmail. And with Skype, you can call any number at a low rate.

If You’re Dead-Set On Keeping Your Domestic Plan:

  • Using a home plan abroad will be significantly more expensive (and provide slower data) than buying local SIM cards. But if you want to keep a domestic plan, Google Fi and T-Mobile (Americans Only) are the most popular options.

From my experience, data in most developing countries is 5-10x cheaper than in the United States. Plus, if you’re using T-Mobile, you will frequently experience 2G or 3G speeds.

Also, if you’re in Europe you can find EU-wide coverage so that you won’t have to constantly switch SIM cards.

Keep Reading: Click here to read Chapter 7: Credit Card and Banking Recommendations For Digital Nomads