Tips on alternative options for staying connected while traveling


Are you a traveller who simply pick a roaming service or spend many time on looking for a local SIM card in your trip? Losing the connection while travelling will be a big problem, especially when you need to search maps, book hotels , communicate with friends etc. You probably came across numerous data options and found that the price varies a lot. Is the choice reliable? Will it charge me extra after exceeding the max. data limit? Can I get any help when there is a connection problem?

If you have any of the questions like these, then you are in the right place!

In this article, Buzzpacker summarises the pros and cons of most popular travel data products ,including pocket wifi, local SIM card, data roaming and new type of “One sim for all countries sim”, after a detailed research, so that you can easily compare and pick the suitable one for yourself!

  Pocket Wi-fi Local SIM card One SIM for all countries (e.g. AIRSIM) Data roaming
(sharing with friends)
All fellows need to stay within 10 m of the device Tethering is prohibited for some cards Tethering is allowed with no extra cost Tethering is allowed , but may be very expensive
Pick/Buy Pick up and return at airport/ store 1. Buy at stall or online (e.g. Amazon, ebay)
2. Buy on site: In some countries (e.g. China, Vietnam), you must register all your personal information if you buy on-site. 
1.Buy online:
SIM card will be posted to your designated address
2. Environmental friendly : One card for +120 countries and time saving
Order from existing mobile network provider
Deposit Y (USD 40~80) N N N
APN setting N Yes to most countries Yes to few countries (see the table) N
Refund Partial refund may exist depending on the terms and conditions of service provider No refund is available regarding cancellation nor connection issue Yes if there is connection issue No
Price 1. Quite high but fixed price
( USD 35~50 /7 day in Asia)
2. Penalty for equipment lost / damaged/ theft/ late return
3. Compensation fee if you lose any of the items
Low (USD 4~10 for 7 Days in Asia) Low (USD 4~10 for 7 Days in Asia) Expensive (charged by the megabyte after the trip)
Changing card N Yes Yes N
Extend the network
period on-site
May charge at high price N Yes. Flexible extension anytime Unlimited period
Making phone call N Depends on the package of card 30-min free AIRTALK Yes, but very expensive
Alternative network N N Y N
Package choice(s) One / two to some countries One Many choices (unlimited data for a period, 24 hours plan, designated local network, certain amount of data plan) One
VPN is required in China N Y N N
Customer service Depends on office hours N Y. 24/7 hrs real time support Y
Suitable for 1. Family
2. Someone would like to connect various devices
Infrequent travelers 1.Frequent travelers
2.Last-minute travelers
Infrequent travelers