Often online I see people who are looking to travel to a new country or continent but they have questions in regards to their cellular service coverage. Having the internet is essential these days. We no longer need to pull out a physical map when you can load Google Maps on your phone and it tells you exactly where to go. Let me explain to you how I get coverage and my progression to what my personal solution has been.
For some of you, you might have an International Package with your cellular provider that you pay a fee and you’ll be able to use your data and make phone calls abroad but for myself, my provider does not have this option. I don’t even have the option of Roaming, so abroad I go completely dark with cellular service. With this knowledge, I came across OneSimCard.com. With their cellular service, they offer you a variety of SIM Card options that give you cellular coverage from 50 countries to 300 countries. Note, their SIM Cards are GSM SIM Cards, not CDMA. In the USA, Sprint, Verizon and U.S. Cellular are on the CDMA Network. AT&T and T-Mobile are on a GSM Network (Reference). If you are using a using a cellular reseller, check which network they use (Example: Cricket Wireless uses the AT&T Network). Ultimately, if you have a CDMA phone, this SIM Card will not work in your phone even if it is unlocked.
I decided to go with the Europe & More. Receiving the SIM Card in the mail took less than a week. My next hurdle was realizing that my cell phone was actually locked. Let me explain, if you purchased your phone directly from your cell phone provider, it will be “locked”, which means if you attempt to put another SIM card from a different provider, it will not work. The process to get it unlocked means you have to contact your cell phone provider and follow all their procedures to see if they will allow you to have it unlocked. Honestly, it would have been a pain for myself and it will probably be a headache for you as well. What I decided to do was purchase a cheap unlocked cell phone off of Amazon… Alcatel OneTouch Ideal 4G LTE AT&T GSM Unlocked 4060A Android 5MP 8GB Smartphone – Black
This initial plan was extremely successful. First good thing with OneSimCard is that you can activate your SIM card in your home country before you travel. I would arrive at my destination, turn on the phone and usually in a few minutes I would grab the signal. If you have trouble, you can also try and select from multiple providers in the area. The phone itself is a little on the slower side but that’s fine since you’re only using it for maps, maybe social media and phone calls. I would also suggest setting up “Auto Recharge” on their site in case you use too much data or cell minutes. This will prevent you from being in a situation where you run out and have to find a way to go to their website while in a foreign country, which wouldn’t work great if you’re having an emergency situation.
Ok, so I mentioned that this was my initial plan because I had a slight situation while I was in Hamburg , Germany. I was getting out of a taxi and I typically check and see if I have everything. I felt that I had my wallet and phone but 5 minutes later, after getting out, I realized I didn’t have my 2nd phone. What I was doing was carrying my normal phone since it’s faster and it works on WiFi, then I had the small Alcatel for International Cell usage. This was actually a blessing in disguise. The next day I took a train to Berlin and went to an electronics store to find something cheap to finish off my trip and buy an Vodofone “Pay as you go” SIM Card. In the store that’s when I discovered that Motorola sells Unlocked Cell phones that are Dual SIM!
The Motorola phone that I bought was alright but I decided to buy a nicer Motorola phone that was Unlocked and Dual SIM once I came back to the States. I ultimately chose the Motorola Moto G (4th Gen.) Unlocked – Black – 16GB.
This phone works great. I use it everyday and it holds my Cricket Wireless and OneSimCard SIM cards. I no longer need to carry 2 phones when traveling and risk losing one of them again.
One Last Suggestion: If you are carrying your phone and you’re going to be out exploring, I HIGHLY suggest buying an Portable Charger. I purchased the RAVPower 16750mAh Portable Charger, Time-Tested Phone Charger with Dual 2.0 USB Ports & Flashlight, 4.5A Max Output Cell Phone Battery Power Pack. I absolutely love this unit. Fully charged, I can charge my cell phone and my digital camera with ease while still having lots of battery power left over.