How To Handle Cell Phone Plans As A Digital Nomad – Chapter 6

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
    1. 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
    1. 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
    1. 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.
    2. Full details on how to execute this.
  4. Use Gmail or Skype to make calls back to your home country
    1. 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