I just spent a week using Google Fi in Spain — it’s an international traveler’s best friend

Choosing a cell provider these days to supply you with speedy, reliable wireless service for your phone can be confusing and daunting. Especially if you travel a lot internationally for work, maybe you’re a jet-setting influencer, or in my case a sleep-deprived tech journalist, who keeps trying to talk his way into a first-class seat for his next long-haul flight. 

Whatever your reasons, traveling internationally can be a costly endeavor when you start looking into wireless services, what they charge if your current carrier even has service available where you’re going. 

When I learned I was traveling to Barcelona Spain for MWC 2024 I was very excited, but then realized I would need wireless service to stay in touch with my family and my employer during those rare times I wasn’t able to connect to Wi-Fi. I normally use Mint Mobile for my OnePlus phone and Verizon for my iPhone (my kid likes to Facetime), with both providing me excellent 5G service within the United States. However, I’m on a very tight budget, so I have to be very careful about adding an expense, even for just a week of travel. 

Seven days of international travel coverage on Mint Mobile would run me $40 for 10GB of data (not too shabby), 500 mins of talk (they don’t know my family), and 500 texts (again, they are clueless about how chatty my family is). Also, I didn’t have the extra $40. SO I looked into Verizon, it would cost me $10 for unlimited talk, text, and data (I don’t have an unlimited plan so whatever my service level is would be covered), but for the week it would be $70. I also found out an international monthly plan is $100, which on top my of regular service means I would have to shut off my home internet and cable service. 

This is when a friend of mine suggested I look at Google Fi, which I did. The Unlimited Plus Plan gives you unlimited data (and device tethering) for $55 in over 200 countries! I did some digging and discovered that Google Fi uses T-Mobiles network locally in the US, which I have used before and always experienced solid 5G service. However I was fearful of international service, but read good reviews and said ok, let me reach out to them and see if they would let me test this out, I did, and they said yes, and also gave me access to a Google Pixel 8 Pro. 

Google Fi PlansSimply Unlimited: Unlimited data, calls, and texts in the US, Canada, and Mexico, with data throttling after 35 GB per line. Unlimited tethering included. ($80 for two lines / $40 per line)Unlimited Plus: Unlimited data (throttled after 50 GB), calls, and texts with international coverage in over 200 countries. ($55 per line)Flexible: Unlimited calls and texts with data charged per gigabyte ($10/GB).Choosing the Right Plan:Simply Unlimited: Ideal for heavy data users within North America who need unlimited tethering.Unlimited Plus: Best for frequent international travelers who prioritize global coverage.Flexible: A budget-friendly option for light data users who primarily need unlimited calls and texts. While it may seem outdated, it could be suitable for users with Wi-Fi access or those who simply don’t use much data.My experience locally and internationally

I live in New York City and surprisingly you will sometimes experience dead zones in certain areas. However, that was not something I ever experienced while out and about in the five borough area. I always had excellent service, calls were clear, and the 5G Data speeds were blazing fast. I also enjoyed going out and tethering my laptop to it and working for a few hours in the park on an oddly warm day. 

When I landed in Barcelona, I didn’t have to do anything, make any adjustments, check settings, nothing, it just worked. I immediately tethered my other two phones to it and enjoyed access to all the apps and features on those devices as well as Wi-Fi calling. Most importantly, I was able to FaceTime with my daughter and Fiance and share all the sights and sounds of the beautiful city of Barcelona. 

During my week in Spain, I never lost service, there were never any dropped calls, and I always had speedy 5G data speeds. This came in handy when I chose to work from one of the many amazing cafes in Barcelona or at the convention center where MWC 2024 was held. 

The unlimited data and hotspot tethering shined when I had to edit some 6K video, down res to 1080p, and then upload to my G-Drive. The 500MB file was uploaded speedily and my video work was done as if I hadn’t left my home. So thank you Google Fi. 

I loved that it was a seamless experience that I didn’t have to worry about or ever think about. Also, the ability to keep all my devices connected, thus allowing me to remain in constant contact with my family, friends, and most importantly my work associates made life easier and made traveling internationally a smoother experience. 

Final thoughts

I would like to add that I am not saying the Verizon or Mint Mobiles international service is not good or as good. I did not test them out, but hope to in the future. However, looking at the pricing data available it seems overall that Google Fi may be the better deal for those who regularly travel internationally. I will add that I recently discovered that Verizon does offer an Ultimate iPhone Apple One plan that is very similar to the Google Fi Unlimited Plus plan, both nationally and internationally. However, the need to have an iPhone and it not being available for all phones is kind of a bummer. 

My overall experience with Google Fi has been fantastic and I will keep the service, especially since I have more international travel coming and Google makes setting it up so easy. All the small extras like unlimited Wi-Fi hotspot tethering add up. Being able to work from anywhere in the world is a massive bonus and having the speed to do so with my workload is a huge victory. 


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