When we first started traveling in the late 90s, the internet wasn’t widely available. Communications infrastructure was missing almost entirely in many of the places we explored.
Calls to Australia cost upwards of 3 USD per minute, we sent postcards and letters, and relied on ‘Post-Restante,’ to get new from home.
We missed weddings and funerals, and our nieces and nephews growing up. The price we paid for long-term travel.
Nowadays, the whole world knows where we are and what we’re doing most days. We call our family regularly for free, and we can attend important occasions from afar.
On this page, you will find resources, tools, and links to help you stay online, and in touch with family and friends around the world.
Section 1 – Provides a selection of resources, including links to products and services.
Section 2 – Links to our other posts and pages relevant to booking flights and flying.
Of course, resources such as websites, apps, and communications provide, rapidly evolve in this space.
We try to keep up, but please tell us if you know of products, services, and tools you think are superior to those mentioned. We’re always excited to learn about and test new things.
Section 1 – Resources for Staying Connected
You’ll find resources on the best communications devices over on the Electronics page. But once you have a device, you’ll need to connect it to the internet when you don’t have WiFi.
Because we usually stay for a reasonable period in countries or regions, getting a local SIM card is generally worth our time and effort. We research the best providers & where to get the SIM card and either pick one up at the airport or make it the first task on our list if we arrive overland. (We’ll add these details to the destination pages as we populate them.)
However, getting a local SIM can be challenging in many countries. You might have to visit a specific location, hand over mountains of documentation, and even provide your fingerprints and biometric data.
If you’re only briefly passing through, or hopping from country to country, purchasing a SIM card beforehand might be a better option.
The newest technology on the market is eSIMs, which don’t require changing your regular SIM card. Unfortunately, our phones are old and don’t support eSIMs, so we’re stuck with the fiddly little plastic ones until we get new phones.
The eSIM providers I’ve added below SEEM to get good reviews. But the level of satisfaction depends on where the user is traveling and the source of the review. I usually like to check Trustpilot first and then hunt down a few comprehensive reviews from online comparison sites (who typically receive a commission via their partner links.)
Please let us know if you’ve had any issues with these companies or know of better options, and we’ll amend the list.
Warning: Check your phone will take an eSIM before purchasing. Ours don’t. The eSIM providers have a regularly updated list of phones that can take an eSIM. But even if the model SHOULD, the compatibility may still depend on where you purchase your device.
Airalo -is an eSIM store that gives travelers access to eSIMs (digital SIM cards) for over 200 countries & regions. You can get connected anywhere in the world as soon as you land and avoid the pain of:
- High roaming bills
- Switching SIM cards in and out, and
- Sourcing local SIMS
So that you know, the Airalo link is an affiliate link, and we get a small commission if you purchase a SIM card through them.
HolaFly – same, same, but different from Airalo. It’s more expensive but has unlimited DATA rather than you choosing the amount you want. The review average is better than on Trustpilot. However, Airalo comes out on top in other comparisons I’ve read.
More eSIM providers appear every day. If you’ve used one successfully, let us know the details. We’ll take a look and add them to the list.
Eventually, physical SIMs will become a thing of the past. But until everyone updates their phones, there’s still a market for physical cards.
Because we’ve never bought or used a SIM card before traveling, we can’t give any of these our vote of confidence. The online reviews from Trustpilot are incredibly variable. As with eSIMs, user satisfaction depends on where you are traveling. From experience, that’s the case with local providers as well. Some countries have better communications infrastructure than others.
So, do your due diligence before purchasing. And let me know if you find a good one so we can add it to the list.
OneSIMCard – Has SIMs for 170+ and ships worldwide.
SIM Options – Has SIMs for most (maybe all) countries and will deliver to Asia, North America, Europe, and Oceania.
If you have access to data or Wifi, you rarely need a phone number anymore (except for pesky 2FA on banking, etc.) AS LONG as the person you want to contact has access to the same online apps. (One of our mums doesn’t.)
We’ve found most people use:
Zoom – We’ve celebrated birthdays and attended funerals over Zoom in recent years.
Skype – Most people have a free account, but we pay for one that allows us to call landlines for free. This is only necessary because Tim’s mum isn’t online.
What are your ‘Go-To’ communications apps? Which ones should we add.
Let us know in the comments.
Protecting Your Online Safety
Even when you’re not in a foreign country, you should take precautions when online. Scammers are getting more sophisticated all the time. But your online safety is even more critical when you’re in a foreign country, possibly don’t speak the language, and rely on your device to do your banking, get around, make bookings, and keep in contact with family and friends.
VPN (Virtual Private Network)
A VPN is a service that:
- Encrypts your internet traffic
- Provides secure connections for transferring sensitive information
- Keeps your identity hidden while browsing, providing an extra layer of privacy, and
- Enables you to access foreign websites while in a country with restrictions. It works in reverse too. It allows you to access your regular sites back home that have Geoblockers.
That last one has been a huge issue for us on our recent trip through South Asia – India, Pakistan & Bangladesh. For example, it was impossible for us to apply for our Pakistani eVisa from India without a VPN as Pakistan restricts Indian IP addresses and vice versa.
We usually use Norton as it comes as their VPN comes as part of our Security Package that protects Five Devices (two phones, two computers, and a tablet) for an annual subscription.
However, Norton no longer operates in India due to new government regulations, so I took out a short subscription with Express VPN was highly recommended by the British ex-pat couple we housesat for in Mumbai.
NordVPN is another highly-rated VPN service.
There are free options like the basic version of HotSpot Shield, which I’ve used before with varying degrees of success. But honestly, I’d rather pay a few bucks and use a reputable company than risk our online security.
Section 2 – Relevant Posts & Pages
- Electronics Page
- Why a VPN is essential when traveling overseas.
Disclosure: Note that some of the links and advertisements on this page lead to products from our partners. If you buy something after using those links, we may earn a small commission from the sale. However, you have our assurance that you won’t pay any more than you would by buying directly from their site. And we promise to only link to products or companies we’ve used personally, been recommended by trusted family, friends, or travel buddies, or researched thoroughly before adding them to the list. You may also see other links served to you by Google. These will display products that Google thinks you want to see. If you click on those advertisements, we also get paid a small (minuscule) amount. If you want to know more about how you help to fund our travels without costing you a cent – then CLICK THIS LINK for a more comprehensive explanation.