I love to travel and one of my favorite travel writers is Nomadic Matt. When Jeff and I were getting ready for our five week trip to Europe, I did a lot of research on ways to make international travel easier. The last time we went to Europe, we expected there to be more free Wi-Fi available. Unfortunately, even in London and Paris, this was not the case. Something that Nomadic Matt's site suggested was purchasing a SIM card in the country you are in. This was something that stuck with me, and it ended up being one of the easiest things that made our trip a bit more enjoyable.
For those of us who use our smartphone regularly, not having connectivity can be inconvenient. It was nice to be able to use a map app to figure out where to go, instead of pulling out a paper map that screams "TOURIST!". We also used town specific apps that gave us ideas for restaurants, pubs, museums, tourist attractions, rental bike locations, city transportation hubs and events. It was also nice to be able to use social media apps for keeping in contact with friends and family while on the go.
We made sure our iPhones were unlocked. You can check with your carrier to see if yours is unlocked, and what you need to do to have it unlocked. We also made sure we knew how to open our SIM card slot on our phone. I put a small paper clip in a book I took with us so we could pop the slot open once we reached our destination.
What is a SIM card?
This is the little card inside all smart phone that store data like location, phone number, network authorization, data plan authorization and other things. When you travel internationally, your current SIM will probably go to "roaming" mode, or may not work at all.
What was the cost?
In most countries, you can purchase a pre-paid SIM card that provides you with voice and/or data connectivity. During our last trip, I was able to purchase nano SIM cards for my iPhone that provided me 1 to 3 GB of data for about €15.
Where do you buy SIM cards?
While in Belgium, I bought my card at a corner night shop (convenience store). In the Netherlands, I purchased a 1GB card at the train station. I also saw kiosks at the bus stations and grocery stores. I had to be sure to purchase a SIM that was nano sized for my iPhone. There are normal, micro and nano sizes, depending on what your phone uses. Some vendors provide a multi-sized option that allows you to punch out the size you need from the package. (See the image above.) Get to know what type your phone requires.
This was the first trip we decided to try out the local SIM card technique, and will be something we continue to do in the future. Happy travels! - Amanda