You asked: What’s the best way to get international phone service?

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International plans? MiFis? SIM cards? By The Way Concierge asks travel experts to share how they stay connected.

Traveling has always come with complications. Our By The Way Concierge column will take your travel dilemmas to the experts to help you navigate the new normal. Want to see your question answered? Submit it here.

What’s the best way to get internet on your phone abroad? My family of five will be traveling from Spain to Italy through France for three weeks this summer. What’s the best IT solution for when we are out sightseeing and away from WiFi and do not have an international cellphone plan? — Thomas D., Dunkirk, Md.

Let’s go through your options, starting with the lowest lift and my go-to: buying an international package from your regular provider. I have Verizon, which offers a plan for $10 per day that includes unlimited text and data in more than 200 countries. In Canada and Mexico, the price is $5 (or free, with select unlimited plans). And for longer trips, it has monthly plans.

Megan Eckley of Imago Artis Travel says her company also tells clients to arrange coverage with their regular carrier. As does Angela Hughes, owner of Trips & Ships Luxury Travel. However, every provider has different policies for its international coverage, so “I always tell them they need to check the details of the package,” she added.

Many provide call and text capabilities, plus access to data, but if you don’t have an unlimited plan and you go over your allotted supply, “that can really add up,” Hughes said.

But your phone company’s international options might not pan out everywhere. I learned this on my recent trip to Lebanon, which is not included in Verizon’s international coverage — or any other major U.S. carrier’s. Rani Cheema, founder of Cheema’s Travel, ran into a similar issue on a trip to Italy when she still had Mint Mobile. She was told she’d be covered, but once Cheema landed, “I had absolutely no connection, no service, no anything,” she told me.

Left hanging, Cheema got a local SIM card — your next best bet after your home provider.

This can often be your most affordable option, particularly if you’re traveling for an extended period, says Matt Berna, president for Intrepid Travel’s North America operations. Once you land in your final destination, you can buy a SIM card from one of the airport’s phone stores or kiosks. For this to work, your phone needs to be unlocked, which can require a call to your carrier to ask it to unlock your device, depending on your carrier. (All Verizon devices, for example, are unlocked after 60 days.)

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And regardless of your length of travel, local cards can offer better coverage, says Erik Cooper, founder of Erik Cooper Adventures. Cooper leads travelers on remote trips through Mongolia and Argentina, where he says his T-Mobile unlimited international plan doesn’t work well. Because his phone has the capability to hold two SIM cards, Cooper keeps his T-Mobile plan active and also buys a local card as a backup.

A perk of this method: You’ll have access to your personal number for two-factor authentication needs. If you want to log in to your Netflix account in your hotel room but can’t remember the password, for example, you’ll need to receive texts. If you’re only using an international SIM card, you won’t get those important texts from your streaming service, bank, etc.

Option 3 is getting an eSIM, or an electric version of a SIM card, with a local phone company. An eSIM isn’t something you download, but rather technology buried in your device’s circuit board. If you have a newish phone (here are some examples), it should have an eSIM and/or a regular, removable SIM card.

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Like with a standard SIM card, you can get an eSIM from a local provider to get data on your device where you’re traveling. If you have an iPhone, you can install multiple eSIMs and use two phone numbers at the same time — but eSIMs don’t always give you a local phone number; it depends on the carrier and the plan you buy. This can be a hurdle in some cases when a local number is required, such as if a restaurant in Rome wants to call you when your table is ready and can’t do it by WhatsApp.

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For clients interested in eSIMs, Eckley recommends the company Airalo, which sells digital data packs in more than 200 countries. She has found its services to be fast, easy to use and fairly priced. You can buy Airalo data packages by country or region. (In your case, something like a Eurolink option that covers 39 countries.)

Konrad Waliszewski, CEO of @hotel, says that eSIMs have revolutionized the way travelers stay connected on a budget but that they aren’t perfect. They’re not supported by every local carrier, and they can be cumbersome to set up. After buying more than 60 international SIM cards and testing various eSIMs, Waliszewski said that he usually defaults to the $10-a-day move through AT&T, which gives him unlimited service through his regular phone number. (And since Cheema switched from Mint Mobile to Google Fi Wireless, she is on the same page, too.)

It may not be the cheapest possible option, but “it remains the epitome of convenience,” Waliszewski said in a WhatsApp message.

“I just traveled to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and was able to get work done along the rural Pamir Highway without wasting a minute in the major cities to find a local carrier or top up on my local SIM,” he added.

There’s one other option that may be handy for your group.

Frank Harrison, regional security director at the travel risk-management company World Travel Protection, says you can get a portable network device, such as a MiFi. “You can create your own personal hotspot almost anywhere, and you don’t have to use public WiFi networks, which can be risky,” Harrison said in an email. MiFis are powered by one SIM card and will allow multiple people in your group to connect to the internet.

Harrison warns that these devices can get expensive if you run through data credits quickly and that you’ll need to carry a charger or power bank to keep the MiFi device running throughout your trip.

More travel tips

Vacation planning: Start with a strategy to maximize days off by taking PTO around holidays. Experts recommend taking multiple short trips for peak happiness. Want to take an ambitious trip? Here are 12 destinations to try this year — without crowds.

Cheap flights: Follow our best advice for scoring low airfare, including setting flight price alerts and subscribing to deal newsletters. If you’re set on an expensive getaway, here’s a plan to save up without straining your credit limit.

Airport chaos: We’ve got advice for every scenario, from canceled flights to lost luggage. Stuck at the rental car counter? These tips can speed up the process. And following these 52 rules of flying should make the experience better for everyone.

Expert advice: Our By The Way Concierge solves readers’ dilemmas, including whether it’s okay to ditch a partner at security, or what happens if you get caught flying with weed. Submit your question here. Or you could look to the gurus: Lonely Planet and Rick Steves.

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