Best International SIM Cards for Backpacking

Best International SIM Cards for Backpacking

Whether you love the idea of always having an internet connection or you would rather keep your travels device-free, it is easy to see the advantages of having a SIM card that allows you unfettered access to the web. Even the most anti-technology folks out there must understand how useful it can be to check your current location on Google Maps or book a hostel at a moment’s notice.

International SIM cards allow you to connect to the web, wherever you are, without having to worry about picking up a local SIM. Sure, they are significantly more expensive but for some travellers, the ease of use and peace of mind is worth the extra cost. 

How do International SIM Cards Work?

Unlike national carriers, international SIM companies do not have their own cell network in place. Instead, they piggyback off of local carriers to provide the strongest signal to their customers across the globe. 

Most of the time, international SIM companies work with the biggest networks in each country so they can offer the most coverage. Sometimes, they will work with two or three carriers per country to ensure the highest quality service. 

STOP! Consider an eSIM for Travel!

eSIMs for travel mean you don’t need to faff about with a physical SIM card. They’re easy to install and can be used across multiple countries!

Best International SIM Cards:


  • Where to Get a SIM: From their website. 
  • Cost: $35USD – $40USD
  • Where to Top Up: On their website.
  • Cell Network: 2G/3G/4G depending on the country you are in. 
  • Number of Countries the SIM Works In: 200+ with their expedition package, 170 for data. The regular international SIM works in 200+ with 4G data working in 50.

OneSIM has been operational for over 25 years, making them one of the longest-running international SIM card companies. With this age, comes a wealth of experience and they know exactly what their customers want, as well as how to deliver a high-quality product.

They know there are different types of traveller out there and have created different SIM packages to fit everyone’s needs. There are SIMs| focused on data, some that are designed to work in the maximum number of countries and some that offer great deals for use in Europe. You can compare different SIM cards to see which one best fits your needs.

Each SIM comes with two numbers, one US and one European with the option of adding more numbers for a cost of between $10 and $200USD depending on which country you want the number to be from. These extra numbers do not last forever and have a subscription cost attached to them. Each one is different so check the website carefully before making your purchase. 

World SIM

  • Where to Get a SIM: Available on their website.
  • Cost: The SIM is free but you are required to top up and pay delivery fees upon ordering. 
  • Where to Top Up: Add credit on the website.
  • Cell Network: 2G/3G/4G depending on the country you are visiting. 
  • Number of Countries the SIM Works In: Up to 200 countries depending on the SIM you choose.

Comes with UK and US numbers and you can add virtual numbers from up to 50 countries. Whilst travelling, you can forward calls from your normal number to the virtual SIM, meaning taking calls from home costs far less than if you were using a local SIM!

They also offer 10% off your first purchase if you sign up to their mailing list. They will then send offers and great deals straight to you, giving you a head start when it comes to cheap data whilst travelling. However, if you do not want to be on a mailing list, just sign up, get your 10% off then unsubscribe… If you keep clicking through the website, you might be lucky enough to get the 15% off offer pop up. This happened to me after I had left the page and returned. 

There is a data-only SIM that works in over 180 countries and it claims to lower your roaming charges by over 95%! However, it still may be cheaper to pick up a local SIM if you will be in a country for more than a few days. 

Know Roaming

  • Where to Get a SIM: Available from their website.
  • Cost: $10USD – $40USD.
  • Where to Top Up: On the website.
  • Cell Network: 2G/3G/4G depending on the country you are in.
  • Number of Countries the SIM Works In: 200+

Know Roaming offer a free US number with each SIM with more numbers available at a cost. 

They offer unlimited data plans that work in 125 countries but these are costly at $9.99USD for 3 days! If you will be staying any longer than a few days, local SIMs will prove much cheaper. You can also get packages of up to 5gb of data, valid for 1 month, but costs are high at around $40USD per package!

Know Roaming also offer traveller SIM stickers that you stick onto the back of your current SIM. This sticker can be activated within the Know Roaming app and will then act as your primary SIM. It works in 200 countries and using the Reach Me service, you can forward calls from your primary number to this sticker. This sticker can be deactivated when you get home and just left on your normal SIM card, making it impossible to lose and easy to reactivate when you go abroad again. 

Are International SIM Cards for You?

If you are on one of those epic around the world in 3 months, taking 42 different flights and crossing every time zone then yes maybe international SIM cards are for you. However, if you are taking things a bit slower, spending 2 weeks, a month or even 3 months in each destination, then getting a local SIM will prove much cheaper. 

I have to be honest, I have never used an international SIM card and when you look at those prices, you can see why! 

I always try to pick up a local SIM because it is just way cheaper, except for those aforementioned round the world travellers. Sure, it can be complicated getting a new SIM in every country, especially when you don’t speak the language and have no idea what you are doing but that is the fun of travel – it’s not supposed to be easy!

Shopping Basket
Scroll to Top