Traveling outside the USA with Ting

My phone provider is Ting. Ting is an MVNO, which is a cellular service reseller. They offer pay-as-you-go services on Verizon and T-Mobile. I live and work on wifi most days, so by not paying Verizon directly for unlimited minutes, texts, and data, I save money. My phone bill is usually less than $50 a month. Sometimes it’s less than 40.

Phone service is important, especially when traveling. I have a Verizon SIM in a Google Pixel 5, and Ting support told me this SIM card would not work at all in Italy.

Ting is willing to send customers SIMs to switch between Verizon and T-Mobile, but using a T-Mobile SIM in Italy would incur international roaming charges. It was recommended that I obtain a SIM from an Italian provider after I arrived.

After landing at the Milan Airport/MXP, I found a kiosk with signs in English that said “get your SIM card here”. I paid $56 with a Visa card for a SIM card from Wind Tre. It provided 70 gigs of data, and 300 minutes. No texts. After changing to the Wind Tre SIM, my phone obtained a local Italian phone number. There was a 30 minute delay between the time the SIM was inserted and when I received some welcome text messages. Wind Tre offers an app that allowed me to monitor my data usage, and I only used 3 gigs during a 16 day trip. All of the places we stayed offered wifi.

WINDTRE 3.05 GB used
Screenshot of Settings > Network & Internet > SIMs > WINDTRE on a Google Pixel 5

Messaging apps on my phone like Signal and WhatsApp worked uninterrupted during and after using the European SIM card.

When I put my Ting SIM card back in the device at the end of the trip, I received every text message I had missed all at once. I had to reboot my phone twice before I could place an outgoing call.

Make sure services you plan to use during the trip that have two-factor authentication enabled are not using text messages to authenticate. You will not get these text messages if your phone number changes. Before swapping SIMs, change logins to these services to use an authentication app instead of texts.

This post is part of a series I wrote at the end of a 16-day trip to Italy in June 2024. Find all the posts about my trip here.


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