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Summary: I enjoy overseas travel and after trying several methods for connectivity I now never leave the country without my Tru SIM. There are so many advantages, including significant cost savings, that it really is a no-brainer for the international traveler.
I enjoyed a nice conversation over coffee with my friend Andy Abramson on Friday and he showed me video that he has been working on with his clients (embedded below) that is now live for all to enjoy. I travel out of the country a couple times a year and have tried multiple ways to stay in touch with clients, family, and friends and after discovering the Tru SIM solution in 2010 my world travel communications are simple, inexpensive, and effective.
In the past, I tried just paying my cellular carrier’s roaming rates and for emergency calls and very short conversations I could stomach the high cost per minute for calls. Data was out of the question though and with smartphones today I was constantly worried about turning my phone off and on to limit how much data was being consumed. Calls to check your voicemail were also charged to your carriers roaming plan. In many cases you have to setup the ability for international roaming before leaving the country as well and there really is just too much to worry about with this strategy.
I also tried just picking up a local SIM in the country where I landed. This worked reasonably well, but you have to find a place to buy the SIM, often leave a photocopy of your passport with the reseller, contact all the people you need to stay in touch with to give them your new temporary number, and then try to use up all the credit you pay for or you could end up losing it if you don’t return to the country before it expires. I also found that the data speeds were not that great with some carrier SIMs and calls made outside the local country were often charged at a very high per minute rate.
If you travel overseas, then I highly recommend the Tru SIM for several reasons:You can buy it now before you travel and get a local US number on it so that clients, family, and friends can have the number in advance and know how to text or call you. It is $29.99 and comes with $15 of credit loaded onto it.You can also get multiple numbers on the Tru SIM (US, UK, and Australian at the moment) so if you need a local UK number to stay in touch with clients there you have that option on the same SIM. There is an $8/month fee for these additional numbers.You can load it up with credit before you travel and even set it up to autofill when it reaches a certain level so you never have to worry about not being able to connect.You can use the rate checker in advance so you can plan a budget for travel. UK rates are dirt cheap and I doubt you can find any deal better than this Tru SIM plan.You can simply put the Tru SIM in your phone, turn it on, and go about your business or vacation without worrying about extremely high carrier roaming rates. The peace of mind I get with a Tru SIM alone is worth the small cost to buy one.You can add as much credit to it as you want and rest assured you can use it on your next trip without having to “use it or lose it.”
Check out this video of Savvy Sue and Premium Paul that matches my exact experiences while traveling overseas.
I wrote about SIM unlocking the new Verizon iPhone 4S and on my recent trip to London for Nokia World I popped in my cut down Tru SIM (I made it a microSIM for the iPhone 4S) and was able to call, text, and even use my iPhone 4S as a WiFi mobile hotspot for connectivity. While many others at Nokia World were having major connectivity issues with local SIMs, my Tru SIM was able to maintain a decent connection and keep me connected most of the time.
The great thing about traveling to the UK is that incoming text messages from my family are free so they can text a local Seattle number I have all they want at no cost to me. I topped up my Tru SIM with $45 before I left and ended up only using about $15 over the three days in London with texts, calls, and data being used on a regular basis.
Tru advertises that you can reduce international mobile roaming costs by 30-90% with the Tru SIM and as I mentioned above there are many other benefits in addition to just the cost savings. They also have business plans for the serious international traveler, but I have only used the individual plans for myself. I am a true believer in this solution because I have tried multiple methods and find this to be the best for me.
Matthew Miller started using a Pilot 1000 in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since.