How to Travel with Your Cellphone (Without Expensive Roaming Fees)

by Carmel Vivier

Canadian travellers know using their mobile phones in the U.S. or overseas—even with a travel package—can still subject them to high roaming and long distance fees if they go over allotted plan usage. I like to stay in touch with family and clients while travelling, so reducing these charges is a priority.

I’ve found several cellphone options with unlimited talk/text/data plans, among them Roam Mobility, G3 Wireless and National Geographic Talk Abroad. All offer great cost-saving solutions to keep roaming and long-distance calling charges to a minimum. The best part: these plans are prepaid, so no contracts or surprise charges.

Roam Mobility

Roam Mobility offers unlimited talk/text/data plans for use within the U.S. and back to Canada for reasonable rates. Their products include a SIM card, unlocked quad band mobile phone and wireless hot spot device with versatile plans—you pick the product and plan that best suits your needs. They also issue a U.S. telephone number—yours to keep, as long as you activate a plan once a year.

G3 Wireless

G3 Wireless offers plans similar to Roam Mobility’s, but they also offer international SIM cards. Again, you pick the product and plan, and you can have either a Canadian or U.S. telephone number. Internationally, their service covers about 70 countries.

National Geographic Talk Abroad

National Geographic Talk Abroad is great for travel in Europe or Asia. Their plans are very similar to both Roam Mobility and G3 Wireless, but are geared for the overseas market. They list 200 countries currently serviced—all covered by one SIM card. There are also many cost-saving options listed on their website.

Several things to consider if using these services:

  • SIM cards from these companies only work with “unlocked” or “jailbroken” cell phones. It can cost $25 to $50 to unlock your personal mobile phone.
  • Cellular service in Europe uses a different frequency than in North America; ensure mobile phones for overseas usage are “quad band.”
  • In Europe you can also purchase international calling cards (with 1-800 numbers) to use with your cellular service. Most cellular services allow free 1-800 number calling (check first); you could save even more on long-distance calls.
  • Read the fine print before purchasing any plan and be informed of how the products and plans actually work.

I purchased a plan through Roam Mobility because it best suited my needs; the service and products worked really well. Having my own wifi hot spot allowed me to tackle a client’s emergency while travelling, and staying in touch was much easier knowing I didn’t have to keep track of my usage.


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