Travel SOS – No more bill shock

Kay O’Sullivan offers some advice to Beverley who is worried about bill shock on her upcoming holiday.

Q. Beverley
I’m heading to Mexico and Cuba.  I understand that mobile and internet communication in Cuba can be difficult.  In order to avoid global roaming charges I was thinking of buying a Woolworths international sim. I’m confused by good and bad reviews I’ve read about the product, and to be honest, I’m probably the world’s worst person in charge of a smartphone (HTC One). I only need to send and receive a few text messages, maybe one or two calls back to Australia, post some pics on Facebook, access my travel information and browse some places of interest. Also I’ve been told I should get VPN to access the internet in Cuba. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

A. Beverley, it’s not you, it’s them. You would need to be a genius, and one with patience at that, to understand Woolworth’s instructions for Android phones. I tried and failed miserably.

It is a huge worry that half of the extraordinarily lengthy document is “if this doesn’t work, then try this, or this, or this.” (If any of you don’t believe me, have a look at this eye-glazing document).

There are numerous international sim cards for Android phones that are easier to install and use but first check whether your phone is locked i.e. is it still under contract? If it is, you need to get it unlocked by your service provider and that may cost you.

As for setting up your own VPN, not necessary. The thaw in relations with the U.S. is fast-tracking change in Cuba and that includes access to the internet. It is now available in hotels and at the various wifi spots around the country. Not as plentiful or fast as you would like, but it should be fine for what you need.

I use and recommend AusPost’s Prepaid TravelSIM. If I can use it, anyone can. The starter pack is on special for $25 – it’s usually $49.95 – and I checked that it will work with your particular phone, and in both Mexico and Cuba.

No lock-in plans and you can buy data on a daily basis and cap how much you spend on it – from $10 to $100 a day. You get a warning when you are approaching the limit and you are only charged for the data you use.

You do need to set up and practice making calls and texts before you go away. But the instructions on the website are clear and concise, and so much easier than that Woolies document.

If you were going to just one country I would suggest getting a sim for that country rather than an international sim, as it’s cheaper again. But, hey, why go to one country when you can do two of the most exciting destinations in the world?

Have fun and let us know how you get on.

Read more about the Australia Post international sim card at 


Kay O’Sullivan is no accidental tourist. More than a decade ago, she decided to combine two of her favourite things – journalism and travel – and become a travel writer. Since then, she has worked for numerous papers, magazines and on the internet, both here and internationally.

Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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