Travel Phone Tips & Options

travel cell phoneTravel abroad used to mean limited and expensive options for calling home. Cell phones are becoming the best way to keep in touch when overseas. Here are a few of your best options, depending on the type of traveling you do.

If you only need to call home in the event of emergencies while abroad, consider renting a cell phone. You can rent cell phones at airports, or at these two online providers. rents cell phones for use in Europe, Korea and Japan. It also rents satellite phones for use in more remote areas. offers similar cell and satellite phone rentals. The rental fees are generally $40 to $60 per week with per minute rates of $1 to $2.

If you already have a cell phone plan with either At&T Wireless, T-Mobile or Cingular Wireless you can take advantage of their worldwide GSM network capability. Just be sure that your cell phone is "tri-band", meaning that it is compatible with GSM frequencies used outside of the US. You will be able to use your phone anywhere in the world. Just be aware that the per-minute rates are steep, averaging from 99 cents to $5.00 per minute depending on the supplier and where you are calling from.

If you travel abroad frequently and need to use a phone often, purchase an "unlocked" cell phone, either on or at some electronics stores. An unlocked cell phone will allow you to buy SIM cards in the amount of $5 to $100 overseas that you discard when you have used available minutes. You simply buy a fresh SIM card for more calling time. The SIM cards offer the best rates per minute, averaging 25 cents a minute for a local call to 60 cents a minute for a call to the States. There is one drawback. You do not have a permanent telephone number. Each time you purchase a new SIM card your number changes. You can also purchase unlocked cell phones and SIM cards at (you will get a better deal on the phones on

So there are your options! Keeping in touch when traveling abroad has never been easier.

Know how to dial 911 abroad


Emergencies can arise anytime—and any place. Be prepared when traveling; know how to call for help.

  • All EU countries: 112
  • Argentina: 911
  • Australia: 000
  • Canada: 911
  • Hong Kong: 999
  • Israel: 100
  • Japan: 119
  • Mexico: 060
  • Switzerland: 144
  • Thailand: 191