3 Hacks for Cheap Cell Service International

These are the tricks I use as a digital nomad to get the cheapest cellular service.  It will also help you avoid enormous phone bills when you get home because your phone accidentally logged you in to your home data network while you were abroad.

1.        Local Sim Cards – in most countries you can get a local sim card that will give you 2-3 gigs of data for the month for $10-$20 USD.  Some of them also come with local calling to connect with your hotel, or make a reservation at the restaurant.  Wifi is in most places now but being able to call an uber or look up the walking directions to get home at the end of a night is super helpful.  Also for those working from the road having a back up way to send an email to your office is peace of mind worth way more than $10 a month. 
Keep your US Sim card in a safe place!  I have mine in the back of my cell case with a sim pin for easy changing of cards when I need to.

2.       T-Mobile – Best Domestic carrier for the Digital nomad is T-mobile.  You can get the unlimited international data plan for about $70 a month, or do what I do.  I have their $3 a month plan.  This keeps my US number alive so that I can use it when I visit the states.  It also comes with 30 mins of calling to use when I land.  Their Wifi Calling feature allows me to make calls to the states on these 30 mins from anywhere.

a.       How to do it – Put in your T-mobile Sim Card

b.       In settings make sure that Wifi calling is on – it will then show up at the top of your screen

c.       Put the phone into airplane mode (I had to be off so that it can connect to the T-mobile server)

d.       Then place your call the first 30 mins will be free and after that it is 10cents a min – which is expensive but
totally worth it in a pinch

3.       Airplane mode – Incredibly important when traveling internationally to leave you phone in airplane mode!  Most of your apps are designed to use the internet in the background.  If you have a standard US cell plan it charges very high rates for international data.  Your phone can use 200mbs a morning without your opening any device which can cost you $10 or more without knowing it.
So, when you get on the plane turn on the airplane mode and then re-engage the wifi.  Leave your phone in this mode the whole trip, or until you get your local sim card

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