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I'm looking for data plans I can use while touring different countries within a region without having to worry about being eaten by roaming fees. If such plans exist at all, I suppose mostly big telecommunication providers like Vodafone or T-Mobile will offer them.

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Are you in the UK? If so, would be helpful to edit your post to reflect that. –  victoriah Jun 21 '11 at 20:42
    
Nope, Germany. This shouldn't really influence the answers though... –  Jan Jun 21 '11 at 20:46
    
Pick up a local pre-paid sim or rent a handset in the airport if your phone doesn't support their network –  nolim1t Aug 1 '11 at 5:07

7 Answers 7

up vote 34 down vote accepted

My personal experience has been that it's best to get a SIM card for each country I travel in. Local providers almost always have the best deals, and buying SIM cards is relatively inexpensive.

Especially in Asian countries (where I have more travel experience) you can easily pick up SIM cards at shopping kiosks almost anywhere, and the rates are really very cheap compared to where I live (New Zealand).

Data roaming from international providers is also very expensive; as an example with my New Zealand cellphone provider in China I would pay $US25+ a megabyte, whereas buying a local SIM card it cost me $US8 for 250 megabytes.

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I've used this method as well. It works great for any unlocked mobile. However some countries such as Japan don't use SIM cards. –  justinl Jun 22 '11 at 0:15
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I know this is relatively easy for voice/text, but how well does this work for data connections? Have providers caught up? –  Jan Jun 24 '11 at 8:16
    
In northern africa too –  Eineki Jun 29 '11 at 10:15
    
@IntuitionHQ please clarify w/ regards to data options, so I can accept your answer :-) –  Jan Jul 4 '11 at 10:21
    
Done. Hope that helps. –  Ciaocibai Jul 7 '11 at 3:40

While fairly slow to use, the Kindle 3G web browser works well enough for email and some browsing, and the 3G SIM is contract free and works throughout most of the World. Bar the cost of purchase it makes it free to use the internet for a lot of travelling.

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and keep in mind that the latest versions have disabled the web browser functionality (apart from wikipedia and amazon.com) when using 3G rather than WiFi. –  jwenting Feb 21 '12 at 6:33
    
There's no guarantee that Amazon won't disable general 3g browsing eventually. If you want to use this method, then you should obtain a Kindle 2 or 3 –  Casebash Mar 27 '12 at 1:15

My own best way to avoid data roaming fees when travelling is simply NOT to bring a cell phone abroad.

Making a phone call is easy from anywhere without a cell phone and internet connections are provided in many places in cybercafés.

Moreover, this is one object that you won't get stolen if it stays at home.

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I do this too. But if I had a smartphone with Google Maps or similar I'd bet I'd want to find a cheap way to bring it. –  hippietrail Jul 7 '11 at 13:52
    
quite wise of you, although I normally take my cell phone so as to use the Wi-Fi opportunities which cafés, restaurants and hotels normally offer. Going to internet cafés is more expensive and sometimes you have to queue up. –  Paola May 14 '12 at 21:22

Best rates are generally had if you buy a local SIM. Alternatively talk to your friends via a Skype account over the internet. If you just want to make calls then there are a number of voice over IP providers besides Skype. If you want to receive calls buying a SIM locally is cheapest.

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This question is about avoiding data roaming fees –  Casebash Mar 27 '12 at 1:19

A possible option is a global sim card, like those from GoSim. They work in nearly every country.

Another sneakier method, depending on what you need the data for and how fast it needs to be, is a 3G Kindle. It has free data to download books on Amazon's Whispernet in almost every country in the world, and has a basic experimental web browser on it. With a bit of effort, I've managed to get GMail, Google Maps, GTalk and more running on it - Facebook and Twitter even mostly work.

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It depends on what countries you are travelling to. If the country uses GSM, in most cases the best plan is to make sure you have an unlocked GSM phone, and purchase a pay-as-you-go SIM card in the country you are going to.

If you Google for "International SIM" you will see that there are tons of websites selling pay-as-you-go SIMs, and in many countries, they are easy to purchase on arrival at the airport if you know exactly what you're looking for.

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I guess you might be in the UK based on the networks you listed?

For within Europe, Vodafone are currently pretty good. Vodafone Passport means it's a single charge to answer/make a call, the rest is at the UK rate. If you're on a £40+/month plan, they'll give you 25mb/day/country of data for free, and 10 free texts a day

When I go outside of Europe, I just pick up a PAYG sim card, sling it in a spare phone and use that. Generally works out much much cheaper, and gives you a local number so people can call you easily from the country you're in.

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-1: This answer contains information that is too localized; companies change their plans all the time and without warning, so this answer risks becoming out of date before long. Remember, we aren't just answering for this person right now, we are building an enduring reference. –  HedgeMage Jun 22 '11 at 20:48
    
Over the last two years, every change Vodafone has made to European roaming has made it cheaper (eg prices reduced, more things bundled), so there's a chance things will improve compared to the answer over time! –  Gagravarr Jun 22 '11 at 21:25
    
Exactly -- and if they improve, the answer will no longer be accurate. –  HedgeMage Jun 22 '11 at 21:31
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@HedgeMage: Even so, a general idea of the prices will still be useful –  Casebash Mar 27 '12 at 1:17

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