tvl: Google Voice for local calls over Airalo

Well, this actually works pretty well:

To turn on Google Voice for local calling

You have to go to the website and then:

  1. At the upper right Settings > Payments > Add Credit
  2. You can add $10 in credits at a time and there is an auto refill at $2
  3. The cost is very nominal for instance a local call in Norway is $0.01/minute (compared with $0.20 on say T-mobile)

Turn on data roaming and enable Airalo

If you have a global roaming plan like T-mobile, it only provides 256Kbps in the UK and Norway on their old Mobile One plan (and they are raising prices on that, argh!), so instead get Airalo:

  1. Go to and find the best deal, typically you can get 10% off just by the referral link
  2. When you log on to, you can use my referral code RICHAR2140 to get $3 off for your initial buy (disclosure: I think I get the same).
  3. Then you can buy an eSim for a late-model phone like the iPhone 13 and later.
  4. What you do is to download the Airalo application and then you can directly download the eSim onto your phone from there which is pretty neat.
  5. It does take a bit to activate. Normally it takes a few minutes, but in Norway, it took about 15 minutes and two reboots to activate.
  6. You can then go to Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data and you should switch to that travel SIM as the primary. You can also enable Cellular Switch so you use either line depending on availability.

Which Airalo plan to choose and limit cellular usage on your Phone

OK, this is a preference, but normally the knee of the curve is around 5GB of data. So with 3GB, you get a week’s worth of data which is great for a short trip. Note that you can always re-up; for instance, in Norway, the choice was $13 for 5GB or $21 for 10 GB. I normally use 13GB or so at home, but that is with lots of WiFi around.

The key thing to do is to limit the things that are secondary by choosing Settings > Cellular again and:

  1. Look at the Cellular Data list of applications below. This takes forever, but basically unselect everything so your frivolous apps (like Apple Music for instance) don’t chew up wifi. The listing conveniently lets you sort Apps by Usage, so you get the big ones first.
  2. At the very bottom you will find Cellular Usage Statistics, hit the Reset Statistics, and every day or so look at the panel and you can see what you are burning. This lets you really manage your cellular usage.

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