We often get asked what the best option for overseas mobile usage is. This depends on many factors including how long you are away for, and which provider you are with.

If you decide to take your phone with you overseas you must be aware of a few things so you do not end up with a costly phone bill when you come home.

Before you travel overseas contact your mobile phone company to check whether your account is set up to use overseas.

When you arrive in a foreign country your phone will automatically switch to international roaming (unless you de-activate this with the phone company).  Roaming is when your phone uses another network while still being billed by your existing provider.  When you are roaming on another network your number remains the same and the temporary mobile phone company will bill your usual mobile phone company for calls, voice messages, and text you make.  These will be billed at the international call and data rate your company uses, even when receiving a call.  Data usage is a big cause of exorbitant fees when overseas.  Some apps you may have installed on your phone continually run in the background, particularly anything connected to a GPS system, therefore using and incurring data usage fees.

There are several ways you can minimise your spending on calls while away, but still have access to your mobile phone if needed.

Firstly, and this is the most important one, as soon as you hop on your first international flight, switch your phone to flight mode and turn off “cellular data” in your settings.  This will restrict all data usage unless you’re connected to Wi-Fi.  You can still make and receive phone calls if you wish if this is turned off.  I like to ask people to text me if necessary while I am away as it is cheaper.  For verbal conversations use Skype or Messenger.  These work well when there is a strong Wi-Fi signal.

Tip: Turn your phone to “Flight mode” when using these methods to guarantee usage is only via Wi-Fi.

International Mobile Phone Plans

Please see below information on the big three Australian providers and what they provide (April 2023).

Another option is to buy a local prepaid SIM upon arrival in your destination country. If you are travelling on one of our group tours, you may not have time on arrival at the airport to purchase a SIM card, so please be prepared to be without a local SIM until you have some free time once you reach your hotel.

Not many phones these days are locked to an Australian provider, but if you choose to go down this route, please ensure your phone is unlocked and able to take another company’s SIM card. You will likely need a paperclip or SIM door opening device (provided by your phone manufacturer) to insert the new SIM.


Telstra International Roaming Day Pass gives you 1GB of data per day, plus unlimited calls. Coverage starts at $10 per day for most countries and more information can be found at Telstra International Roaming

Telstra also offers pre-paid international roaming which starts at $10 for 3 days. More information can be found at Telstra Pre-Paid International Roaming


Vodafone International Roaming is a $5 per day add-on to your current plan. You use your Australian data, call, and text allowance, and it is automatically activated as soon as you start using your phone in another country. For more information, visit Vodafone Australia International Roaming


Optus International Roaming is also $5 a day, but you get a 5GB per day allowance, plus unlimited calls and text. This only applies to certain plans, so please double-check if it applies to you at Optus International Roaming

**All information is correct as of April 2023. We are not able to advise you on what your best option is. If you are unsure, please contact your provider directly, or ask a trusted friend or family member. If you are with another provider, please consult their website for their international roaming capabilities.