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.

  • Are you in the UK? If so, would be helpful to edit your post to reflect that.
    – victoriah
    Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 20:42
  • Nope, Germany. This shouldn't really influence the answers though...
    – Jan
    Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 20:46
  • 1
    Pick up a local pre-paid sim or rent a handset in the airport if your phone doesn't support their network
    – nolim1t
    Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 5:07

9 Answers 9


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.

  • 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
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 0:15
  • 1
    I know this is relatively easy for voice/text, but how well does this work for data connections? Have providers caught up?
    – Jan
    Commented Jun 24, 2011 at 8:16
  • In northern africa too
    – Eineki
    Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 10:15
  • @IntuitionHQ please clarify w/ regards to data options, so I can accept your answer :-)
    – Jan
    Commented Jul 4, 2011 at 10:21
  • Done. Hope that helps.
    – Ciaocibai
    Commented Jul 7, 2011 at 3:40

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.


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.

  • 1
    So it's possible to use the experimental browser in another country for free? Surprised no one has hacked the system to turn that kindle into a wi-fi/usb hotspot.
    – kiradotee
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 21:22
  • 1
    @kiradotee yep, as long as country is supported by whispernet, but it (when I used it 5 years ago) was SLOW. AS. A. DOG. Only really useful for checking email, you don't want to be browsing or sharing your connection.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 8:48

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.

  • 2
    -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
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 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
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 21:25
  • Exactly -- and if they improve, the answer will no longer be accurate.
    – HedgeMage
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 21:31
  • 1
    @HedgeMage: Even so, a general idea of the prices will still be useful
    – Casebash
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 1:17

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.

  • 5
    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. Commented Jul 7, 2011 at 13:52
  • 4
    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
    Commented May 14, 2012 at 21:22

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.

  • 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
    Commented Feb 21, 2012 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
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 1:15

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.

  • 1
    This question is about avoiding data roaming fees
    – Casebash
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 1:19

It's not an all-countries-proof method but if you're from the UK you could get a Three sim card, they have a Feel At Home system that allows you to use your plan in other countries*.

* At the time of writing (updated on April 2017): Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Channel Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, United States.

  • (+1) Quite an odd list but interesting nonetheless.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 21:30

There are quite a few pocket hotspots which have global or multi country data plans at much lower price points than roaming. I have a Glocalme U2, I have heard good things about the Pokefi which seems to be cheaper but covers a lot fewer countries. Also, the Glocalme U2 allows for -- but does not require -- a local SIM. Similar devices include the Skyroam and the Keepgo but I know nothing of those but seem to be much more expensive than either the Glocalme U2 or the Pokefi.

These are data only solutions but the question was about data in the first place, second VoIP is your friend if you need to make phone calls.

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