March’s Q&A: The Phone Edition

By Nomadic Matt | Published March 31st, 2013

Every month, I make a short video answering questions you submit via Facebook, Twitter, and the comment section in the previous month’s video post. This month I had a number of good questions but I decided to focus on one: what do you do about getting a phone overseas?

A lot of people asked about this so I decided to focus the video on just that one question instead of my normal lightning round Q&A.

Next month, I’ll answer all the questions I didn’t get to this month. If you have a question you want answered, leave it in the comments section below.

comments 8 Comments

Really enjoyed this, I needed that thanks, sending a phone to friend in India, this was a great help.


You’re welcome.

In addition to an unlocked phone and sim card I’d add a Skype app to my smart phone. For $2.99 per month you can make unlimited calls to the U.S. from anywhere in the world (assuming you have a good wifi connection where you are) – great for keeping in touch with home. Similar subscriptions for calling non-U.S. locations are also available but cost more (e.g. unlimited calls to the U.K. for USD 6.99 per month.) Skype’s local calling rates in various countries are also pretty decent.

All the tips on how to manage phone’s while abroad were very helpful – thanks Matt!

On another note, one of the many really great benefits of owning a Macbook is its very high resell value. While the value of many PC’s depreciates rapidly, a Macbook that’s been taken care of tends to lose value at a very slow rate.

I just got back from Japan a couple of weeks ago and roaming there with a smart phone is very expensive. Very expensive. There are a couple of options available there now that weren’t available even a couple of years ago. I bought a pre-paid data SIM. 1GB for 14 days. You can’t use your phone as a phone but you can use Skype. I just forwarded my usual number to my Skype number so I could still receive and make calls. No SMS but I mostly use WhatsApp for messaging these days anyway. Facebook and other apps worked faster than at home. The service was amazingly fast and the coverage was almost universal. In only one Ryokan deep deep in a valley in the mountains I was unable to get coverage.
I’d thought my phone was unlocked but when I tried to put in the new data SIM I found that it wasn’t. After quick call to my phone company in Australia to get the unlock code I was able to use the Japanese data SIM. That call and having my phone on in roaming mode for half a day cost as much as the pre-paid data SIM cost for 2 weeks. 3980 yen or about $40 for the SIM by the way. Re-charging for another 14 days and 1GB was a breeze too. SIMs available for both Android and Apple. You order the SIM online before you go and it is delivered to your hotel or airport post office the day you arrive or specify.
For the record the SIM was from b-mobile ( I have no financial or other interest in this company I am just one very satisfied customer. The service and coverage in Japan was so good and fast it made me realise just how inadequate the service is back home in Australia. I was uploading photos to Facebook almost as fast as being connected to WiFi at home.

My iPhone has been my savior many times. I especially love being able to use it as a wireless hot spot when the wireless is terrible or nonexistent. Plus, 3G is so cheap some places! I think I spent $10 on a whole month of it in Cambodia

Great tips thanks Matt! – Something I will remember for my next OS trip!

Having been caught out with huge bills on returning home, I’m a hot spot and Skype lover now, although my network has also recently offered a set fee per day for unlimited data roaming overseas (something that’s been a bit of a saviour when I need to keep ahead of emails). I’ll definitely bookmark the video for our next travels
Chrissie x

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