Travel Tips
min read

Traveling Abroad? Why You Need a Data-Only Plan

February 3, 2023
·
by
Alexis Miller

Whether you’re a first-time traveler or you’ve logged thousands of miles traversing the globe, most people still find themselves frustrated with the high costs of using their mobile devices when traveling abroad.

A quick search of top travel or money-saving sites reveals cost-saving tips that include: turning off data roaming, turning off cellular data, micromanaging data access for each app, and hyper-tracking how much data you’re using. Sounds easy enough right? Eh, on second thought, maybe not. 

In practice it can be frustrating, limiting and – especially in the case of international travel – wildly disconcerting to forego easy access to Internet connectivity. When you consider that, on average, we look at our phones every 12 minutes and 78% of us never even turn them off, the idea of taking a trip without full mobile access feels downright primitive.

The Mobile Miscalculation

 

So what options do you have? The obvious solution may be to add an international plan to your existing mobile service. But that can be expensive, and fraught with hidden costs and limited data options that count every email, text and megabyte of data use against you. Not to mention, you can’t always guarantee the quality of the connection – many times you find yourself stuck on a 3G signal when you need a 5G response.

 

If you think a traditional plan is a must for maintaining access to your phone number or to talk to loved ones back home, think again. Thanks to the advent of eSIM in mobile devices and the benefits of a data only plan, it’s easier than ever to keep your phone service seamless while maintaining a tight grip on your expenses.

Best Apps for Communicating Abroad on a Data Only Plan

 

You may think that traditional calling is a crucial need for travel. But, when you consider the host of apps available that make communication easy and efficient, then you may be thinking twice about clinging to your home carrier on your next trip. 

Below are apps that use data only, and allow you to call friends, family and colleagues using voice over IP (VoIP) connection – making mobile data only plans the perfect solution for your next trip.

WhatsApp 

What started out as a text messaging app has turned into a great resource for making phone calls. Though many people still use it as a text-messaging app, more and more businesses abroad now have WhatsApp as a contact option. 

Skype

A go-to application for calls, Skype makes it easy to call a fellow user or dial any number direct through its app. Additionally, while it is a Microsoft-owned product, it works seamlessly with iOS and Android, making it an accessible choice no matter your device.

Facebook Messenger 

Facebook is a quick and easy way to stay in touch with friends and family. The application allows you to do everything from messaging to talk to sharing video or sending money. It’s another great data-only communication solution. 

Slack

Ideal for those who need to remain in touch with colleagues during their trip. Slack is a great app for sending files, messaging with groups or making direct calls to fellow team members.

Signal & Telegram

For those seeking extra security in their messaging apps Signal and Telegram are great options. Both can function on mobile data only plans and encrypt calls and messages. That type of security can put one’s mind at ease when traveling abroad. 

What Else You Can Do On a Mobile Data Only Plan

Sure, communication is a crucial part to travel. Whether staying in touch with your travel companions or keeping loved ones at home apprised of your activities. But data only plans don’t limit you to just messaging and calling apps. 

Navigation & Maps

One of the most useful tools for traveling abroad is navigation apps. Whether you’re using Google Maps to find restaurants, Apple maps to navigating winding streets, AllTrails to prevent yourself from getting lost on a hike or Waze to drive to your next destination, accurate, reliable navigation is an important part of travel. 

Streaming Services

Though they’re not the best way to maximize your data use, streaming apps can be used on data only plans. This means you won’t miss the latest episode of your favorite Netflix show; you can watch movies at your leisure on HBO; or you can keep the kids entertained on Disney+ during long transits. 

Surfing the Internet

Whether you’re looking for local restaurant recommendations or want to learn more about the history of where you’re standing, utilizing the Internet is also accessible through mobile data eSIM plans. This includes scrolling on social media and posting updates of you adventures. 

The Power of eSIM

 

You may have noticed that Apple made a big deal of eSIM in 2018 when it launched its newest iPhones, the XS, XR and XS Max. This is because eSIM is considered a breakthrough in mobile technology. eSIMs – also known as “embedded SIMs” provide mobile users with a “virtual” SIM option  – which means they can use multiple carriers without changing their phone number. 

This is particularly exciting news for travelers, as access to one’s home-based carrier’s service (and accompanying phone number) remains available while taking advantage of another data only plan. In addition to iPhones, eSIM is available on iPad Pros and, as of 2019, all new iPad devices.

 

Android phone users can also enjoy eSIM. The newest Google Pixel phones feature eSIM and other device manufacturers, such as Samsung, have a range of eSIM-enabled devices. GigSky has a plethora of mobile data only plans that work seamlessly with these devices.

But what about the cost? 

No matter how exciting the technology or how easy the apps are to use, for most of us choosing a mobile plan comes down to one critical factor: cost. Here’s the good news: data-only plans from GigSky start at just $3.99 for 1GB data and go up in data size from there. 

What sets GigSky apart from other international data plan providers is either they charge more, can only promise 2G service and/or are limited to certain locations. With GigSky, you get affordable pricing, connection to Tier 1 networks in your location, and plans in over 190 countries and regions. 

 

GigSky plans can be purchased directly from the app and easily managed there as well. You can tailor your data needs to your travel plans, and control how much you use, ensuring your data and your money never go to waste. The best part? No surprise bills when you come back home. What you pay for is what you get. 

 

So what are you waiting for? You’ve planned your trip down to the last detail, now’s the perfect time to make smart choices about how you stay connected. Download the GigSky app today in the Apple Store or in Google Play and take advantage of our summer data deals. iPad users don’t need the GigSky app to activate a GigSky data plan on eSIM enabled iPad. Learn more here.