The #1 Travel App I Always Use

Previously, I wrote about my favourite free smartphone apps for travel, but the one I rely on the most is a paid one. They’re not sponsoring me to write this post—I just really like it and have been using it for four years.

Wherever I am in the world, I always have data thanks to KnowRoaming, a Toronto-based company. This may sound strange, but all you have to do is place their Global SIM sticker over your current SIM card, and download and use the KnowRoaming app to access data in 125+ countries. Your phone must be unlocked, however, with data roaming turned on. If you have questions, customer service is prompt whenever I’ve email them.

I used to buy foreign SIM cards, but using this app is so much easier. The typical rate is $7.99 USD per day for unlimited data (UPDATE: They’ve just reduced the daily rate to $3.99 USD). Sometimes they have special data plans. When I was in India, they had a 7-day unlimited plan for $25, if I recall correctly. While the local SIM rates are probably less expensive in some countries, I prefer using the app for convenience. I’d only consider buying a foreign SIM if I were to stay there for more than ten days.

As soon as the plane lands in a new city, I have immediate access to the Internet. No more trying to find the SIM card counter, messing with my phone, and possibly misplacing my current SIM in the process.

You can also use the app to text or make calls. I don’t trust the texting, but the calls usually go through (make sure you’re dialing the right country/area code wherever you are). KnowRoaming uses a local number to make the calls, so I have no idea what my number is unless I ask the party I’m speaking to.

If you’re in a country for a longer period of time, you can buy a local number and subscribe to their ReachMe service, which forwards calls from your regular number to the KnowRoaming number. I haven’t used this service, but I like having the option if I ever need it.

I have a US number for this app (it came free), so whenever I’m in the US, my Canadian phone service stops working (as it does any time I’m out of the country), but at least I can give out the US number for anyone who needs to reach me. While we all use WhatsApp or Skype to make personal calls these days, the US number have come in handy on occasion, such as the time the bank wanted to call me back to follow up on some credit card issues.

KnowRoaming is a pay-as-you-go service, so just load up the app with funds, buy a package and activate it. The only thing to watch out for is when your unlimited data for the day runs out and you’re back to paying by usage. The rates can be high and the app doesn’t always alert me when my plan is up, so I’ve had incidents where I spent $20-$30 from using data for mere hours. To prevent this, I don’t overload the funds on my account. I also wish there is an easier way of seeing my package purchase history, not just the receipts for the funds I’ve uploaded.

All in all, I rely on this app a lot, especially when I’m only in a new country for a day or two, and I need immediate data to navigate Google Map, check Yelp reviews for tourist traps, order Ubers, or check my flight status. I’ve used this app everywhere from Italy to India. The only place where it didn’t work was Detroit for some reason. I think they’re adding new locations all the time though.

Use my referral code ANNZH36 for 30% off the SIM sticker or SIM card. Yes, they have a SIM card version as well, but unless you have a dual SIM phone, the sticker option is much more convenient.

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