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Travellers' questions that don't fit anywhere else This is an opportunity to ask any question, and post any notice you wish that doesn't fit into one of the other sections.
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I haven't been everywhere...
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  #1  
Old 17 Aug 2022
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Phone options for Aussies when travelling for extended periods

A question for the aussies travelling o/seas. What are some options regarding use of your personal phone while away for an extended period? I won't be using it all the time to ring home or send messages (taking a laptop or Ipad to send emails etc. Roaming charges are very expensive, so is it best to buy local SIMS in each country I go through? Do some SIMS cover all of Europe or the USA, for example. If so, that would make it easier, rather than buy a heap of individual SIMS. I'm an old bloke, so technology is not my strongest suit but hey, I'm willing to learn!

Last edited by Fernbrook; 17 Aug 2022 at 12:36. Reason: incorrect heading
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  #2  
Old 17 Aug 2022
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Firstly be sure to take an active Australian Sim with you that can receive text messages probably Telstra best, very common when trying to purchase something online, accom, ferry etc the Aus bank will send a verification code and this can only be done by txt (unlike EU banks via app) just put in or turn on when U need & make sure data roaming is off.

I had a boost Sim (they stopped offering roaming) and meant I cannot use my main bank ING for online (best acc for travel, but cannot add international number to acc) Also gov apps /websites etc causes a lot of headache not being able to receive SMS to Au number.

HSBC (also good) & NIB I was able to call them and add a international number. This was a pain. All my cards were visa, next time better have one MasterCard aswell.

For when actually traveling, generally best get a local Sim in each country & can use data from that. In Eu buy in one country and they generally free to roam in all, then can use WhatsApp Messenger or I also use Skype if need to call home phone

An E Sim may be an option however I don't have 1st hand experience


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Last edited by drkiwi; 18 Aug 2022 at 16:54. Reason: add info
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Old 17 Aug 2022
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fernbrook View Post
...Do some SIMS cover all of Europe or the USA, for example.
Yes.

Orange France sells a prepaid SIM card that works in all Central & Western European countries - I have used it several times and am quite happy, the price is reasonable. See here: Orange France SIM for Visitors

All of the major US carriers SIM cards cover the entire USA, although coverage can be spotty in some rural areas (same as Australia, I would expect).

Michael
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Old 18 Aug 2022
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phones

Thanks for the info. I'll do a bit more research and see what I come up with-probably trouble! Fernbrook.
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  #5  
Old 18 Aug 2022
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Turn off data roaming on your phone and don't make outgoing calls and texts. Try to avoid incoming calls, though incoming texts are generally free.

Take a second phone with you and buy local SIMs as you travel.
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  #6  
Old 18 Aug 2022
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Originally Posted by Tomkat View Post
Take a second phone with you and buy local SIMs as you travel.
A much simpler alternative is to buy a phone that has two SIM slots, or a phone that has 'eSIM' capability plus one SIM slot.

When these phones first came out a few years ago, they were expensive, but now they are commonplace.

Carrying two phones is a massive PITA - you need to keep both charged, you need two chargers, two cables, you wonder which one is ringing, there's a bulge in your pockets, etc.

Another consideration is that the frequencies used for GSM telephony vary from region to region, and not all phones are capable of functioning well on different continents. So if you plan to use the phone in Oz, Europe, North America, and possibly Asia, you will need to do quite a bit of research to ensure that you buy a phone that has the capability to operate on all the different frequencies used on different continents. In this respect, Apple phones might be the safest choice, but they are expensive, and even Apple has different part numbers for the same model of phone sold on different continents, implying different frequency capabilities.

Michael
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Old 18 Aug 2022
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Agree a dual Sim phone is great..

Doing a bit more research into this as has been a problem on my latest trip, need to sort for the next one.

It seems there is some Aus banks that do have apps that can use for verification (see thread below) however gov agencies and other do need SMS so I think it still has to be the way.

There is mention that Telstra may not be the best but Vodafone, unsure why as yet.

https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/717319#comment

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Last edited by drkiwi; 18 Aug 2022 at 16:46. Reason: add link
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  #8  
Old 19 Aug 2022
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Originally Posted by drkiwi View Post
...It seems there is some Aus banks that do have apps that can use for verification (see thread below) however gov agencies and other do need SMS so I think it still has to be the way.
Uh, SMS reception from your home carrier should not be a problem, regardless of who your home carrier is.

The system works like this: When you are roaming on someone else's network with your (home) SIM card, the network you are roaming on sends a message in the background to your home carrier, saying "Hey, this customer of yours is roaming on our network." Then, if someone sends a SMS message to your home network, your home network checks to see if you are on the home network (meaning, if you have returned home since it got that notification from the foreign network), and if you are not on the home network, your SMS gets forwarded to the last network that notified your home network that you were roaming on it.

As for being able to SEND a SMS from your home network account when you are roaming on a different network, that's a different set of protocols, and I don't know the rules for how that works.

But if all you need to do is RECEIVE a SMS from your bank, or airline, or website, or whatever to tell you what your two-factor code is to authorize a login, you should not have problems.

Of course, all this is contingent on your phone being able to connect to the foreign network frequencies (see my post about this above). But you should be able to see if you have connected pretty easily by looking at your phone.

Michael
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  #9  
Old 19 Aug 2022
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PanEuropean View Post
A much simpler alternative is to buy a phone that has two SIM slots, or a phone that has 'eSIM' capability plus one SIM slot.

Carrying two phones is a massive PITA - you need to keep both charged, you need two chargers, two cables, you wonder which one is ringing, there's a bulge in your pockets, etc.
Dual SIM is an option yes, but not my preferred one. Firstly I'm not expecting a whole lot of phone calls, so phones on standby all day are easily charged at night (campers - it is also possible to charge on the bike while riding!) Charge from a USB hub and you don't need to carry a charger for each phone. Secondly, should you lose, break or get robbed of one phone you have a fallback.
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  #10  
Old 21 Aug 2022
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PanEuropean View Post
Uh, SMS reception from your home carrier should not be a problem, regardless of who your home carrier is.

The system works like this: When you are roaming on someone else's network with your (home) SIM card, the network you are roaming on sends a message in the background to your home carrier, saying "Hey, this customer of yours is roaming on our network." Then, if someone sends a SMS message to your home network, your home network checks to see if you are on the home network (meaning, if you have returned home since it got that notification from the foreign network), and if you are not on the home network, your SMS gets forwarded to the last network that notified your home network that you were roaming on it.

As for being able to SEND a SMS from your home network account when you are roaming on a different network, that's a different set of protocols, and I don't know the rules for how that works.

But if all you need to do is RECEIVE a SMS from your bank, or airline, or website, or whatever to tell you what your two-factor code is to authorize a login, you should not have problems.

Of course, all this is contingent on your phone being able to connect to the foreign network frequencies (see my post about this above). But you should be able to see if you have connected pretty easily by looking at your phone.

Michael
Yes it is a problem, I returned to Aus today and Telstra tells me they also do not offer roaming on pre paid how ridiculous is that.

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