Ask Adrian: How can I keep my roaming bills low on my American holiday?

Irish Independent tech

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e’re heading to Disney World in Florida for Easter. I have had a nightmare before with roaming bills, especially in America. Do you have any tips?
— Eimear Farrell


I’m a fairly regular traveller to the US. I’ve been reluctant to rely on roaming add-ons from Irish operators as they are generally too low in data or are only for the more expensive monthly packages.

This has mostly led me to getting a local pre-pay Sim card when I land — I typically opt for something like T-Mobile, which gives you an unlimited monthly data Sim card for around €40. The disadvantages here are twofold.

First, mobile data is far more expensive in the US than here. But maybe more importantly, it’s quite a hassle to go through the process of getting a Sim card this way; while some airports have shops or vending machines that will supply them, most don’t (in my experience).

That leaves you looking up a local mobile phone shop and going to get one, which is not what you want to do when you’ve just landed and are jet-lagged.

I recently tried out an alternative method, which is a lot handier, but will only work on more recent smartphones.

GoMo, which is Eir’s budget mobile operator, has a new service called GoMoWorld that gives you 15GB of mobile data for €20. The way it works is pretty nifty. It uses your phone’s built-in ‘eSim’ to connect to a local 4G network. Before you leave Ireland, you download the GoMoWorld app and sign up (and pay the €20). You then activate it when you want it to start.

The handy thing here is that you can keep your existing Sim card in your phone and then choose (in your phone’s settings) which one you want to use at any particular time, your home network Sim or the roaming GoMoWorld eSim card.

You can also choose, if you want, whether to only use it for data or for phone calls or both.

It seems to roam mostly on AT&T’s mobile network in the US, which is decent enough in most major urban areas. When I used it, across Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, it seemed fine. It only works on smartphones with ‘eSim’ capability. This means almost all iPhones (from iPhone XR and XS right up to iPhone 14) sold in the last five years, as well as all the recent Google Pixel phones (models 3 up to 7). However, it only supports the more recent Samsung Galaxy phones (S21, S22, S23, Z Flip, Z Fold 2) and a small number of Oppo phones (Find X3 Pro, Find X5, Find X5 Pro and Reno 5A).

Recommendation: GoMoWorld (€19.99 from GoMo)

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