When to use: World Sim – Local Sim – Roaming

Use World SIm - Local Sim - or Roaming

Just because you step off a plane and find yourself in a foreign country does not mean you need to give up the ability to use your mobile phone. Get that silly notion out of your mind- if we can send missions to Mars, we can make a phone call while travelling in Amsterdam.

There are three main ways to use your mobile phone to make calls and use internet virtually anywhere in the world. Figuring out which of these options to use is fairly straight forward. You must choose which of these 3 C’s is most important for you: Convenience, Cost, and Coverage. It will help you determine whether to Roam, use an International SIM card, or use a local SIM card.


If convenience is at the top of your list, then you’d probably want to Roam. You will need to activate roaming and be sure that the country you will be visiting is covered by your current mobile operator. As well, be sure to ask about what the charges will be for incoming calls, texts, outgoing calls, texts, as well as if you’ll be able to use mobile internet and what astronomical charges that might entail.

Roaming is convenient because you will not need to open up your phone and pop in a different SIM card. As well, you will be able to receive calls to from your regular phone number while travelling. However, you will need to open up your wallet as your mobile bill could add up to hundreds of dollars. This is by far the most expensive option to choose- convenience comes with a hefty price tag.

Roaming with your Current SIM card
1. Call your mobile operator to confirm roaming is available
2. Ask about call rates and mobile internet access
3. Store any special codes you may need to roam
4. Activate Roaming
5. Be prepared to pay massive roaming charges on your next phone bill

Note: Your mobile operator must allow roaming in your destination country

Convenience: Great 
      Coverage: Fair 
               Cost: Terrible X



If coverage is your biggest concern, then you’ll probably want to get an International SIM. Using an International SIM will allow you to use your mobile phone to make calls, texts, and have internet in most countries of the world. You generally order these things online and ahead of time so that you can have it installed and loaded with the proper amount of calling credits.

You’ll be able to use the International SIM card in all the countries that it support, which usually is virtually all countries in the world. Thus, you have the widest coverage possible while using the one SIM card. The cost for this option is somewhere in between Roaming and using a Local SIM card. Mobile Internet costs are still extremely high.

Using a World SIM Card
1. Purchase SIM card and credits online
2. Install SIM card once you receive it
3. Store any special codes & dialing instructions
4. Load up credits as need be

Note: Your phone must be SIM – unlocked

Convenience: Fair ✓✓
      Coverage: Good ✓✓✓✓
               Cost: Poor 


If you’re trying to save on the cost of your travels, using a local SIM card is by far the cheapest way to make calls and get mobile internet. You’ll have the options to choose between two or more local mobile operators, choose the call and mobile internet plan best suited for your needs.

As well, if you have technical difficulties in making a call or getting connected to the internet, you’ll have a better chance of getting it fixed by going directly to the local mobile operator as opposed to the other two options. Plus, it’s pretty darn cheap.

Using a Local SIM Card
1. Purchase a local SIM card and credits
2. Install and activate the SIM card
3. Configure phone to use local SIM card
4. Load up with credits as need be

1. Your phone must be SIM – unlocked
2. Your phone must be compatible with the local mobile operators network

Convenience: Poor 
      Coverage: Fair ✓✓
               Cost: Great 

Which to Choose

If you don’t plan to use your mobile phone for making calls or using mobile internet,  you’ll probably choose the route that is Convenient and just turn on roaming for making the odd emergency call. For those who can’t be bothered to change SIM card in every country on a trip that consists of going to multiple countries, they may choose the Coverage option and get an International SIM- one SIM card for multiple countries.

For the rest of us, buying a local SIM card is the obvious choice because it offers the cheapest rates for actually using mobile internet to our hearts content for a reasonable price. Here’s a step by step guide to Using Local SIM cards.

Image Credit: ©Depositphotos.com/(Peter Jobst)


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