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Roaming SIMcards v. local SIM cards

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When we pre-booked Eurostar tickets for our last trip to Europe in 2008 we were given local SIMcards complimentary with our Eurostar tickets. It was great. It meant we knew our European phone number before we left home and could advise friends & family. All we had to do was swap the SIMcards in our own phones sometime on the flight over.

This time we thought we would buy local SIMcards when we arrive in Paris. Once inserted into our phones we could text key friends & family, and they would then have our new numbers to store into their phones.

However we've been bombarded lately with promotions for "roaming SIM cards" like travelSIM and others, which are apparently a card you buy before you leave home but which work anywhere in the world. These too would enable friends & family to know your number before leaving (not that our plan outlined above was in any way difficult). I've always thought of "roaming" as an expensive way to go, but these "global SIMs" claim not to be. Reviews have been confusing: one review said people calling you from the country you're in don't have a number to call (not sure I understand that remark); while another review claimed the only alternative to using a global SIM was to rent a phone plus a card (which contradicts our 2008 experience).

Can anyone offer advice on this? Our main uses for mobile phones when we are overseas is calling or texting each other about where to meet up after separating for half an hour or so (e.g. at a market or while shopping), phoning ahead to a hotel we're booked into that night to let them know if we'll be late arriving, and texting short messages back home (e.g. on a friend's birthday). Except in an emergency, all other or longer communications back home would usually be by email.

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