Our mobile phone solution for long-term travel
Both Rachel and I are bringing our iPhones with us (both are unlocked) on our around the world travel adventure and life reset. Our original plan was to maintain one phone number and cellular plan so that our banks, friends and family, etc., all had the same number for us that they have had for years. With the second phone, we were going to purchase local SIM cards and use those for local calls and local data while traveling.
It sounded like a great plan until I started researching a bit more.
We have been Verizon Wireless customers for years. Unfortunately, their international options are quite expensive for people who plan to travel for extended periods of time. As an alternative, I found several positive references to T-Mobile, which allows you to use your plan internationally at no additional charge (although the data speed is significantly limited).
This sounded perfect – I could simply port my number from Verizon to the T-Mobile plan and be good to go – Easy! Wrong.
T-Mobile 90 Day Rule
The T-Mobile option is solid…if you are traveling less than 90 days. After 90 days they suspend your account until your phone pings on a cellular tower back in the United States. I spoke to several levels of support at T-Mobile and they confirmed this. Rachel and I also spoke with someone at a T-Mobile store and they verified it, as well. Something to note is that this is waived for US troops serving overseas, which we think is great.
Verizon is out…T-Mobile is out…What next?
The online travel community is terrific. We put out a Twitter post asking for suggestions and quickly heard back from several people with great suggestions for us. FYI – if you’re looking to connect with fellow travelers, search for #traveltribe and #ttot on Twitter (#ttot = travel talk on Twitter). There are many helpful people on there!
Our Final Solution
We are keeping our Verizon Wireless plan until we arrive in Australia (our first destination). This way, we know we have a phone number and data during our travel and for our initial arrival. I called Verizon and they activated “Travel Pass” on our account. The way this works is that if we use our plan internationally, we will be charged $10 for the next 24 hour period. A nice short-term solution, but as you can imagine it would get expensive very quickly for the long-term.
Local SIM Cards
Upon arrival to Australia, we will purchase a local SIM card. Once we verify that it works, we will cancel our Verizon plan. From that point forward, we will operate 100% with local SIM cards in each country. Several of our traveler friends suggested that this is the most effective solution, both functionally and financially.
Staying in Touch with Friends & Family
Fortunately, technology makes this quite easy. Our primary methods of communication will be email, Skype, and the message features on Twitter and Instagram.
Banks, Storage Unit, Insurance Company, etc.
We established a Skype phone number for $50/year. This allowed us to have an established phone number that we provided to companies and businesses. We also purchased Skype Credits so that we can call landlines in the United States via Skype for only .023 cents per minute. This will be used sparingly, but it is good to know it is an option.
Some services require a mobile phone number to verify our identity in case we get locked out or need to reset our account. In these cases, we put the mobile phone number in for a very close friend. He and his wife are also the ones who are receiving our forwarded mail for us.
So there you have it, this is how we are handling our mobile phones and numbers for our RTW trip. We’re sure there will be snags along the way and that there will be times that we can’t get in touch with people or they can’t get in touch with us, but that’s ok! That’s part of the fun and adventure of travel!
Do you have any thoughts to share about hitting the life reset button? Please post below or contact us directly!