Disclaimer: The author of the post is not affiliated with, and does not receive compensation from, T-Mobile US, Inc.
When you travel every now and again, going off the grid might be part of your vacation goals to relax your mind, body and soul. However, when you’re a frequent international traveler, you might have to stay connected with family or your boss, especially if you work remotely. Thanks to T-Mobile, staying in touch is easy and inexpensive.
There are a couple of different ways to use your phone abroad to save on outrageous roaming charges many U.S. cellular carriers impose. You can unlock a smart phone and insert local SIM cards when traveling to international destinations. However, that method requires quite a bit of planning. Not only do you receive a local number and cannot keep using your U.S. number in that case, you also have to spend precious vacation time looking for a local wireless carrier only to realize your phone cannot be unlocked, depending on the U.S. carrier you use. But now it’s too late and you end up purchasing a “burner” phone to stay connected.
Unlimited Data and Texting
The other way, my favorite way, is simply switching to one of T-Mobile’s Simple Choice plans. The Un-carrier covers more than 140 countries (with Belize as a recent addition to the list) and offers unlimited data and texting to its customers. Although standard data speeds are about 128 Kbps, it’s enough to reply to important emails, use Google Maps for directions in new cities and upload photos to Instagram. You can send as many texts as you want to your friends and family who do not get charged any fees to text you back, either. Unfortunately, you might end up in some countries that are not covered, but luckily it’s a short list. Once a border is crossed, T-Mobile sends you a welcome text message detailing your coverage in every country you visit.
As a bonus, T-Mobile is offering 4G LTE data speeds to travelers to Europe this summer, July through August. You can “share, skype, snap & scope every moment of your European holiday,” as stated on Tmobile.com. The calls are 20 cents per minute.
Coverage in Canada and Mexico
If you travel to either Canada or Mexico, T-Mobile offers unlimited calling when you’re in those countries (4G LTE data is included), but also unlimited calling to either of those countries’ numbers when you’re located in the United States. You get coverage in three countries for the price of one.
One Hour of Free Gogo Internet
In a recent move to attract more customers, T-Mobile began offering one hour of free in-flight Internet on Gogo-equipped domestic flights after making a Wi-Fi call prior to boarding. You will receive data access on your smartphone to text and send pictures through apps like Viber, Google Hangouts or WhatsApp. Side note: when you’re abroad and you don’t want to pay for a call to the U.S. (even at 20 cents per minute), use Wi-Fi calling (on a hostel’s network, for example) to your advantage.
This customer appreciation program isn’t 100 percent travel-related, but it’s a cool feature nonetheless. Every Tuesday, the Un-carrier releases free stuff to its customers as a way of thanking them for their business. In the past several weeks, the “loot” has included free Vudu movie rentals, a free pizza from Domino’s and Lyft rides. Already I’ve used a couple of $15 Lyft credits locally, but they can come in especially handy when traveling in a city where the ridesharing program is available. Additionally, T-Mobile is offering unlimited data to Pokémon Go players for a year starting Tuesday, July 19.
No matter how you slice it, T-Mobile offers a lot to frequent travelers in terms of costs and simplicity of use. It’s easy to say, “Well, domestic coverage isn’t as great as with Verizon or AT&T,” but for someone who lives in a major U.S. city with decent coverage and who loves to travel, the international perks and the price make T-Mobile a no-brainer.