With this post, we’re starting a series on data roaming. Perhaps some readers may be asking themselves does it have to be the full world tour at the beginning? Will there even be a need for other blog contributions? Aren’t all countries covered by a world trip? No, not by a long shot! Just as every country has its own peculiarities, a world trip also has its specialties. Seldom on such a journey are you in any country for so long that it’s worth purchasing a local SIM card, and in some cases it can be quite bureaucratic. So the topic of data roaming on a world trip is an excellent way to address this a fundamental question.
Preparation is Key!
Assume that even the best solution for data roaming will still cost quite a bit. And do you want to call? Then it can be complicated, because many cheaper data SIM cards don’t allow you to call. Although it’s possible to use a mobile data router, it should be noted that almost every smartphone uses a different amount of data depending on whether it’s in a Wi-Fi or mobile network. A mobile router presents the mobile network as a Wi-Fi network, and can therefore lead to quite high costs. So avoid such routers, and make the change to IP phone solutions including Facetime, Skype and Google Hangouts. With WhatsApp, it’s even possible to keep the original mobile number despite the SIM card change.
What’s important to check before your trip is which services your smartphone uses mobile data for, and to turn off the majority of them. There are also data drains within apps. For example, you might want to disable automatic playing of videos in Facebook or loading images in mail apps. Disconnecting all photo syncs, e.g. via iCloud, is obvious, unless you are willing to take on the cost of backing up your photos. Since you are likely to change your SIM card several times on the world trip, a SIM card case can also be a sensible purchase.
My Recommendation for Worldwide Data Roaming: KeepGo
There is a range of SIM card providers which allow almost worldwide data roaming, my personal opinion is that KeepGo stands out as particularly good. As with almost all cards, data volume credit can be paid for from anywhere in the world via a simple web interface and using Paypal. The key thing with KeepGo is that this volume can be used in almost every country and, above all, doesn’t expire, or at the earliest if no credit has been added for at least a year. For me, the KeepGo card is the SIM card which I can use most widely and acts as a backup card even in countries where I purchase a local SIM card. For example for the time between landing and purchasing a local SIM card. You can get the card here, and by using that link you’ll get a 15% discount.
Keep in mind that changing SIM cards is always a better option when compared to a mobile router. KeepGo doesn’t work in every country though – for example Cuba or Morocco, or Europe where the EU’s new roaming regulations mean you can usually use your own SIM card. But even here, there are certain exceptions which I will take a closer look at in the following blog posts.