Cell Phones Abroad

Cell Phones Abroad
Cell Phones Abroad

In today’s modern world the use of a cell phone is essential, especially when traveling abroad. It can be difficult to navigate and understand cell phone use and coverage abroad and it is at the very least a safety promotion to always have a working cell phone. Thus, Scott Ozaroski of DePaul University reached out to his colleagues to collect information and tips about the best way to handle the use of cell phones. Below are responses that could be helpful if you or faculty at your institution are looking for different cell phone options. He specifically inquired about India but other options are represented as well!

  • Mobal – buy phones (http://www.mobal.com/international-cell-phones-purchase).  Phones can be shipped to SA office prior to departure (Eastern Michigan University uses this)
    • Purchase price: $29/phone.
    • Call rates: incoming calls $1.50/min, calls to U.S. $2.75/min, free incoming texts, outgoing texts $0.80/msg
    • Phones do not work in the U.S. according to SA advisor at Eastern Michigan University (pros: faculty leader cannot accidentally use the phone in the U.S. create a large phone bill & cons: cannot use the phone if an emergency happens during travel to/from the site abroad while the group is in the U.S.
  • CellularAbroad – rent phones (http://www.cellularabroad.com/rentals-india.php).  Phones can be shipped to SA office prior to departure
    • Rental charge: $99.95/four weeks. Call voucher: $29/each (per-minute rates deduct from this)
    • Call Rates: From India to U.S. $2.69/min, Receiving calls in India from the U.S. $2.59/min.
    • Phones can be carried during travel
    • SA office can pre-load relevant phone numbers onto the phone (24/7 emergency numbers)
  • Pic Cell Wireless – rent SIM cards (https://www.piccellwireless.com).  They do not provide services for India. (Madison Area Technical College uses this)
    • Options for both phone and SIM cards (multiple sizes for different phones)
    •  Local number (local to the country for which the student registers) and a US virtual number for friends and family from the US to call the student without international rates assess to the US caller (however, the student abroad is assessed fees for these calls)
    •  Euro or World SIM that will work if they plan on traveling outside their host country while abroad (which is most students nowadays!)
    • Some providers have partnerships with Pic Cell and have plans for students that include renting a Euro/ World SIM card, getting insurance and changing data plans based on monthly use


  • Other Options to Consider:
    • Have travelers continue using their U.S. phone and get an international calling/texting plan
    • Buy a SIM card upon arrival in host country – to use in an unlocked U.S. phone
    • Buy a new phone in the host country
    • Rely on WIFI calling – VIBER, Facetime, Skype. Obviously there are some cons with this option and relying on it during an emergency situation. Consider internet connections can be unreliable.
    • Add a requirement to provide phones on the day of arrival into the contracts with our host organizations. However, it is advisable that faculty directors carry the phones during air travel as well.


Comment Below! If your university handles cell phone use in a different way or your experience working with any of the above!



All responses were complied by Scott Ozaroski Associate Director of Program Management at DePaul University.

Photo credit: Jai Kapoor (no changes were made to this work)

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