OWL Magazine Korea

Three Ways to Use the Internet Abroad

While traveling abroad, not being able to use the internet can be quite frustrating. With the advancement of smartphones, essential apps like Google Maps for navigation and access to various travel information on websites and blogs become available through internet usage.

If you find it inconvenient not being able to use the internet abroad, here are three representative methods to use the internet seamlessly while abroad.

“Three Ways to Use the Internet Abroad”

Here are three ways to use the internet while abroad:

  1. Use Roaming Service from Your Mobile Carrier
  2. Use a Local SIM Card
  3. Use a Pocket Wi-Fi Device

“Using Roaming Service from Your Mobile Carrier”

The first method is to use the international roaming service provided by your mobile carrier. Roaming allows you to use the same carrier you use in your home country while abroad. This method is straightforward and allows you to keep your existing phone number, as well as receive calls from your home country.

While this service is undoubtedly useful, it comes with some significant drawbacks. Firstly, it can be expensive, with daily fees typically exceeding 10,000 KRW. For extended stays abroad, the costs can add up significantly.

Secondly, if you exceed 100MB of data usage per day, the speed may be throttled. While it may be technically unlimited, the speed may drop from LTE levels to 3G or lower, requiring significant patience even for simple internet searches.

Despite these drawbacks, there are individuals who require this service, such as businesspeople or those who need to receive calls on their home number while abroad.

“Using Roaming Service”

  • Pros: Convenient, stable, allows use of existing phone number, can receive calls and texts
  • Cons: Expensive, speed restriction after 100MB usage

“Purchasing a Local SIM Card”

The second method is to purchase a local SIM card. Nowadays, most modern phones can use a different carrier’s SIM card with the same device. Some phones even have a feature called “e-SIM,” making it even easier. This way, you can buy a local SIM card, subscribe to a prepaid plan from a local carrier, and use it.

In some countries, there are companies that offer prepaid plans for tourists, usually in increments of around five days. The “Hi! Tourist” plan in Singapore is a representative example. These plans are relatively affordable and can be very useful. For example, you can use it for five days for around 15 Singaporean dollars, which is roughly equivalent to 12,000 KRW.

One additional advantage of this method is that you will be issued a local phone number, allowing you to make calls using a local number. This can be useful for calling places like museums in advance to confirm opening hours.

You can either purchase a local SIM card after arriving at your destination or buy one online from domestic online shopping malls before your trip.

“Using a Local SIM Card”

  • Pros: Affordable, local phone number usage, can receive calls and texts on your original number
  • Cons: Can’t use your original phone number, can’t receive calls and texts on your original number

“Using Pocket Wi-Fi for Internet Access”

The last method is to rent a device called a “pocket Wi-Fi” and take it with you. This device is specific for Wi-Fi use, allowing multiple devices to connect to it at the same time. Simply turn on the pocket Wi-Fi, connect to the Wi-Fi signal, and start using the internet.

However, it’s important to note that this method only provides internet access, so you won’t be able to make calls. Additionally, it means carrying an extra device, which can be a bit inconvenient.

Nevertheless, there are several advantages to this method. You won’t need to go through the hassle of changing SIM cards, and multiple people can use the Wi-Fi simultaneously. Plus, you’ll have unlimited Wi-Fi access.

One pocket Wi-Fi device can typically support between 6 to 10 people at the same time, although this may vary slightly depending on the provider. However, it’s unlikely that six people would travel together on most trips, making this restriction almost negligible.

Inexpensive pocket Wi-Fi rental fees can be as low as 2,500 KRW per day. Even for a trip lasting 4 nights and 5 days, you’d only spend around 12,500 KRW for unlimited internet access.

You can purchase these pocket Wi-Fi devices on online shopping sites like Gmarket or Coupang, and easily pick them up and return them at the airport. Especially for trips to Japan, this is an affordable and convenient option.

“Using Pocket Wi-Fi”

  • Pros: Unlimited data, multiple simultaneous users, LTE-level speed, can receive calls and texts from Korea
  • Cons: Need to carry a separate device, can’t use it if the battery is drained (carry a portable charger), can be rented from online sites like Coupang: https://coupa.ng/bm5h3S

These are three ways to use your phone or access the internet while abroad. Each method has its pros and cons, so it’s best to choose the one that suits your needs.

Personally, I used a local SIM card in Singapore and a pocket Wi-Fi in Japan, and each had its own advantages and disadvantages. Keep in mind that each country may have its own specialized options for SIM cards or pocket Wi-Fi, so considering these factors when making your choice would be helpful.