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Staying connected while overseas - MiFi rental, or..?  



Seeking advise for international travel. I'm going to Israel for two weeks, and I need to figure out how my family's devices will work, for internet use and communicating with each other and others.

We have

  • 2 iPhones (on Xfinity Mobile, which uses Verizon's network, and are CDMA) 
  • 2 iPads (WiFi only)

XF Mobile int'l roaming charges are:

  • Data:  $0.15/MB
  • Talk:  $0.15 /minute
  • Text:  $0.10 /message

I expect my data would be 1.0 - 1.5 GB ($150-$225).

I don't think I can get/rent SIM cards, because I need Messages/Texts to continue working (our phone numbers are connected to our Messages app).

I'm considering a MiFi rental. $80-110 for the trip, provides WiFi to the iPads as well as the Phones. Don't have to worry about bad hotel WiFi. I'm sure I'd still use a VPN service on top of it. This wouldn't cover talk/text.. I'd still need XF Mobile for that.

Has anyone done a MiFi rental for travel? Any other methods to consider?



2 Answers

If your iPhones support Dual SIM, you might be in luck. You could add service from one of the eSIM providers and use that for your data/calls, but still have your existing SIM/numbers "live" for inbound stuff. Check the segment on Dual SIMs in MGG 760 (segment starts at 45:37) and/or the shownotes for the same to learn which apps to load ahead of time for this.

When we went to Europe a few years ago, we didn't have the Dual SIM option, and also didn't want to pay the ~$300 it would've cost to light up four phones on AT&T's Int'l roaming for 2 weeks, so we got $20 unlimited-for-30-days SIMs when we landed in the UK and were good to go. But we could've gotten just one of them, put it in a spare iPhone, and tethered to it, another option.

We were OK not having inbound texts. Most of us were using iMessage, and a few months before we left all set our "outbound" addresses to our email addresses, separating us from our phone numbers. Obviously this only helped for iMessage (blue bubble) folks, and any inbound texts from SMS/green bubble folks were missed until we returned. We were OK with this — people could find us on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc. 


Thanks Dave!

Unfortunately my phones are both iPhone X, which apparently is not dual SIM. And I can't unlock them, because they're not fully paid off yet (monthly installments to Xfinity Mobile).

I was surprised to learn, though, that they're GSM (which is what I think is needed for Israel). XFM uses Verizon, which I thought was CDMA, but apparently that's changing now?

The tethering idea is very interesting. I do have an old iPhone 6 from AT&T, so I assume it's ok for GSM, if I can get it unlocked. I found a SIM card rental for $50-60, a little cheaper than the MiFi option ($80-100).

  • Would I need  "texting to US", if I mainly use iMessage? 
  • Would tethering to an iPhone 6 work just as well as a MiFi? I wonder how they compare in performance, connections, stability, security, etc.

Would you trust a rented MiFi to not snoop on you? Or would you use a VPN service on top of it, just to be extra careful? 

Thanks again!