For families who often do overseas travel, having reliable internet is a must in order to stay connected. My husband, Clint Bush, shares some of his thoughts on how Google Fi is changing the game when it comes to nomad life and staying connected with folks back home.
I have not tried Google Fi as of this writing, but a family we know who lives a nomad life recently told us that after six years of struggling with WiFi and internet access during overseas travel, they think they found a winner with Google Fi. Based on my research and their testimonial I am planning on trying it.
What is Google Fi?
Google Fi is a phone service with voice, text, data. Like other phone plans they have coverage while outside the United States (although less than T-Mobile at 170+ countries). This makes it easy to use for overseas travel.
One major advantage Google Fi has over other networks is they partner with both LTE 4G cell networks (including T-Mobile) as well as WiFi hotspot carriers around the world. This allows them to provide the best possible high speed experience by connecting to the fastest available connection, whether it is LTE 4G or WiFi.
Another valuable feature of Google Fi on the security end of things is they route your traffic through a VPN automatically if you are connected to Public WiFi during overseas travel. That means you have encrypted traffic when on Public WiFi keeping you safe from potential spying eyes.
A simple pricing model for overseas travel
In my opinion though, seemingly the best part of Google Fi is their simple pricing model. You pay for the phone or SIM card upfront, $20 for text/voice, and then you only pay for the data you use up to 6GB per month. The cost is $10 per 1GB per month up to $60. Then it is unlimited data after that.
There is a supposed cap at 15GB at which point you may experience throttled service, but unless you are doing constant streaming that might not be a problem. Additional users can share data but does increase the monthly cap of $60.
Some considerations for using Google Fi:
- It is only available in the US, but you only need to have it shipped and activated in the US. After that it doesn’t matter as long as you are paying the bill.
- Google Fi only works “out-of-the-box” with the specific Android phones they list on their website. If you have a different Android phone or iPhone, there are work-arounds (see resource list below), but the “seamless” WiFi/LTE 4G swapping doesn’t work very well according to some reports. It might be worth just carrying Google Fi as an additional line of service and using it on an approved Android phone.
- They may throttle your data usage at 15GB per month. This is fine for me, but if it were my oldest son he would burn through that pretty quickly. Depending on your data use, your mileage may vary.
- There is not as much international coverage (170+ countries) as T-Mobile (210+ countries). For a family living a nomad life, this may not be ideal. However, the speeds seem to be better overall since they are partnered with T-Mobile’s network, as well as other cell networks around the world. This means they can pick the best of the bunch.
Making nomad life even easier!
Of course prices and plan details may change over time. So make sure you do your homework before taking the plunge. Here are some additional resources that might be helpful:
- The Better Wireless Carrier For Frequent Travelers: Google Project Fi Or T-Mobile?
- PSA: Project Fi works in any phone — mostly
- How to Use Your iPhone with Google Fi
- Frequently asked questions – Project Fi
Do you have experience with using Google Fi during overseas travel? Share them in the comments.
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