When I’m abroad, my phone is an essential tool: it is my link with my friends in France as well as with the new people I’m meeting while I travel (friends, accomodation, activities, etc.). What I discuss in this article applies if you’re on vacation for a few days or a few weeks in the country.
I usually try to buy a sim card on site. It often is the cheapest solution – and the more convenient one when you get the card.
But before going abroad, be sure that your phone is not SIM locked.
In most countries, you will have the possibility to buy a SIM card as soon as you arrive at the airport. In countries with lower living standards, choosing a SIM card is easy (they’re not really expensive, anyway). Ask the person who sells you the SIM to install it with the credit you bought. Don’t forget to ask him how to check on your account balance. And, of course, make sure that the credit you bought is credited to your account.
For example, when I was in Bali, I didn’t really understand what the operator was telling me but I could see how many minutes I still had on my account balance 🙂
In Thailand, I had a 3G SIM.
Here are some solutions for a couple of countries:
Optus Prepaid Social is probably the best plan I’ve had in my life! For AUD 30 (€ 23), you get 500MB of data and a credit of 250 minutes that you can use to call 23 countries, including France. With this cray package, I was able to call ALL of my friends on New Year’s Day 🙂
T-Mobile Pay by the day seem to be the only ones who can provide you with a 3G SIM for iPhone in the USA. That’s a good deal: for $3, you get US phone calls and unlimited SMS; also, you get unlimited date for a 2D phone (edge) and 200MB per day for 4G phone. The service sucks a bit, though.
Tim For €5 per week, you get 2 Go of internet, 100 SMS and 100 minutes of national calls.
These offers often change and I just wrote them here as an indication.
If you go as a group and just need the internet, you can go for a MIFI: a small and portable modem, with a SIM card. You buy only one SIM and everybody can connect to the wifi as long as you’re near the one who’s got the modem.