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If I'm traveling around the world, what do I do about my iPhone data?

I am traveling around the world- starting in Thailand, then going to Cambodia, Laos, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, etc. My iPhone is unlocked and is with AT&T, but I wasn't sure if it's best to use it on only WiFi and stick with my current plan, or get local SIM cards in each country so that I am able to get Data available. I work from my computer, so having a hot spot and data available on my phone might be very beneficial. I just wasn't sure if it's hard to find local SIM cards in each country... seems like it would be a pain and might be hard with the language barrier.

Does anyone else travel from country to country and have any suggestions? Thank you so much!!

13 Answers

answered by
Michael from New York City

You should be able to find a local SIM card in the airport you land in initially.  Then if you are traveling by land from country to country, they are a dime a dozen, in little shops and kiosks.  

2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Doug from Angelika Film Center & Cafe

Just completed a 5 month trip through Asia. I switched to T-Mobile from ATT and so glad I did.  Free data in almost every country.  Just use wifi otherwise and download apps that work offline.  Also, use good old printed maps. Thailand and Vietnam in particular, make sure you have maps in English with corresponding Thai/Vietnamese.  Also, always take a business card from the hotel or Airbnb you are staying at with directions when you leave for the day.  A big help when you need to get back in a cab or tuktuk. Have fun!

1 thanks

answered by
Aizik from Bangkok

Each and every place I visit for more then a week, I buy there a local SIM card with data, sometimes also SMS and calls. Usually it cost about 35 US$ and change your life....

1 thanks

answered first by
Josh from Baton Rouge

Sim cards are very cheap and very easy to find, especially in Southeast Asia.

You'll be fine.  It will likely be much cheaper then going through your U.S. service provider.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Southeast Asia (attraction)
1 thankscomments (1)

answered by
terrell from Malibu

Whatever you do turn off your camera's ability to auto roam. Turn off the DATA. I think ATT does provide special SIM for international travel. You'll have to check. I have always just bought a pay as you go phone in country for data. If you know there will be wi-fi available you can just wait to get to those areas for data upload, instagram sharing etc.

answered by
Shahbaz from Chunian

Keep Backup on Icloud or any other cloud website... Then your data is safe.

answered by
Jae from Singapore

Get local sim cards- they are so cheap and generally pretty easy to have installed! If you're concerned about where to get or install them, I've been compiling a list of them for each country and should have all the ones on your list covered here: Tech Guides for Asia.

With the exception of India (where it takes a lot of paperwork to get a sim card), it'll take you under 10 minutes to buy a sim card, have it installed, and have someone sign you up for a cheap data plan.

answered by
Johnny from Manhattan Beach

answered by
Diana from Willow Grove

My husband traveled internationally a lot in the past. We have Verizon. But 1) he used wi-fi as much as possible, 2) changed email so it was manually pulled through versus automatic so he didn't use data unnecessarily and 3) we 

Purchased packages before we left. About $25-$30 for a certain GB. then, 

If he reached the GB, we got an email and it automatically charged us $25-$30 again so we didn't get screwed a paying the INSANE per GB rate. It worked well and we felt safer. Not to mention, what he didn't use of the package when he returned they refunded us. Good luck, safe travels and enjoy each moment!

answered by
Harold from Springdale

I traveled six months in Europe and the UK. My old Apple was not Quad band so buying local SIM card for it was not an option. Had to buy the entire phone + the chip + minutes which was all a pain. I specifically up graded to iPhone 6 so I could buy local chips and use my phone. Stores selling chips, phones & minutes are easy to find. Sometimes there was a complete language barrier but you show them your phone and the work with tourists all day long. Make sure it all works before you leave the store as the instructions will not be in English. Have the shop employee dial in to do the activation. They know how to do it and always seemed happy or at least will get to help. Also make sure you know the code to dial within the country you are in and the next country you are going to. I had an Italian phone, Irish phone chip trying to dial a third country. It is all part of the experience. I say buy the chips and you will at least have a phone you're familiar with and in English.

answered by
mona from Fayetteville

You will find access to wifi in most anywhere worldwide. I've always gotten an international data plan from my provider...they only require a 30 day commitment and cost about $25...then have to be manually renewed in 30 day increments. This way you have gps and travel info when needed...not just when wifi available.

answered by
Meir from Tel Aviv

Although I'm an 'androidian' I guess the following info is still valid...

1. Usually sims sold at country of destination will be much cheaper than a program sold in country of origin. In most cases these sims are sold with a certain credit which you can update in the easiest ways - like ATMs, etc. Even before leaving the airport upon landing, look for the boot that sells them, they will always be aroud.  

2. I have all my contact data on google, + I have whatsapp, viber, which I update whenever I insert a new sim - this way I am always connected with my contacs regardless of phone no. on the sim. In case any of your contacts prefer to call you the old way - all you have to do is mail them the new cellular no. and let them call. In most of the cases calling you from 'home' to a local no. would be much cheaper than having you call them via a program you bought before leaving... And yes, same about calling using the sim you are buying. Needless to remind whatsapp, facebook msngr allow voice calls.

3. Reminding you - the credit on these sims can be updated, therefore keep your sim even after leaving a country in case you may return,,,,

Answer by Meir Jacob, founder of Trips 4 Photographers, you are kindly invited to visit our website: 

answered by
Maja from Stockholm

Hello. Two years ago I canceled my AT&T contract as it was costing me an arm and a leg when I was outside the USA.  

You will quickly find when traveling outside the USA that the entire rest of the world has more wifi and it is everywhere!

I've been in Europe (and wifi is EVEN better in Asia) for 6 months and have not missed having cell service once.

So between using Skype, Google Voice and iMessage (all 3 free when using wifi) has saved me a TON of money!

The one thing I would suggest you get is an International Boingo account for either your mobile device or your laptop, as many airports will have reduced speed wifi, but with the Boingo Account ($8.99/month) you will never have to worry about not having high speed internet.

Hope that helps and have a great trip!

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