I have been prepping for my five week stay in London for six months and one of the biggest causes of strain was how on earth I was going to communicate with loved ones back home. I went through several options and I will take you through the options I went through as well as give you some I didn’t use.
Option 1: Go to Your Usual Carrier
Even if At & T doesn’t sell in the UK you can go to them and purchase a plan of some nature for while you are over seas. Your phone will roam onto someone else’s towers, but the phone will work. This option is fine if you can afford to pay your phone company for their overseas plans. Personally, mine, At & T, had prices that were completely barbaric, which led to the next option
Option 2: Purchase a Global Phone without the Sim
Many people do not realize that phones have different frequencies. A phone from the US will likely work in the UK but a phone that has already been built to work in both places is clearly better suited. You can get a smartphone like this from Motorola for less than $150, which is hard to beat. If you go with this option you will need to get a Sim from the UK. They are willing to give these to you, though you will have to purchase top ups once you have it. Top ups are essentially their version of prepaying.
Option 3: Purchase a pay as you go phone in the UK
I’ve got several friends here who have done this and honestly I am begining to think I should have as well because my phone has not been working well with my Sim, but this a freak accident and very unusual. Anyway, the way this works is they pick up a cheap phone with a sim in it and top up. They can add to it as needed.
Option 4: Use Any Phone, on WiFi, and use an internet caller
There are many of these, such as Skype, Viber, and Oovoo. Essentially they work by calling via the internet. Many have free versions and paid versions. Normally you have to be calling another person on WiFi with the app, which can be limiting, but another option is to purchase a large data top up and continue to use these apps rather than using calling minutes.
The best advice I have is do not panic, but have a plan before you come. I knew I was going to have a phone that, worst case scenario, I would be able to Skype call from WiFI, and so far I have been able to do that no sweat, despite the issues I have been having with my sim. Make a plan, but relax. Our world is so connected there is nothing to fear.