International phone and data charges can cost almost as much as your trip.  Do a little research before you go to save yourself the exorbitant fees.  However, there are options.  US wireless carriers do offer International plans if you have a world GSM phone or iPad.  Your best bet is to plan ahead.


  • Use your carrier and phone.  Sign up for international minutes and data usage.
  • Use an unlocked World GSM phone (Verizon & Sprint phones that do not have a SIM will not work with this method, check your phone’s network type) and buy a Country or Europe SIM card and buy local SIM card at your destination.  European SIM cards are available at phone stores, kiosks, and Tabac’s  (The French government requires a local address and ID to purchase a SIM card.  After reading many blogs, I have found that you can use your hotel’s address and your Passport number, however some merchants may not sell you a SIM.)
  • Purchase a World, Europe, or Country SIM card before you leave from various sites such as or others.  The cost of the SIM and the rates will be higher than buying locally, but their rates are cheaper than most US providers.
  • Rent an international phone.  A few of the websites mentioned above will rent you a phone and SIM for your trip.

(AT&T will typically unlock old phones when you have a new one which is currently active on their website. Go to AT&T support page for help.  Apple discusses unlocking an iPhone here)


Note:  We have heard it may be difficult to find the the iPhone 5 nano-SIM card and the iPhone 4 micro-SIM card.  The iPhone 3 and 3GS SIM card should be available.  You may want to do some research with the local cellular carriers where you are traveling to find out if you will be able to purchase a SIM card that fits your phone.