The alarm sounded exactly at 8:00. I sat up jerkily on the bed. The vacation, which seemed so tempting yesterday, was less exciting today. But nothing, the main thing, is to jump into the car, and the road will already do its job – knocking out KPIs, presentations, disputes with contractors, etc. The main thing is to turn off the phone. Although you still have to call a couple of times. Large customers do not like to wait.

I named my route “Baltic Ring”. The plan is as follows: travel the entire Baltic region, including Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn, then cross by ferry to Helsinki, see Finland, moving to the Russian Vyborg, then to St. Petersburg, and then to Moscow. Moving between cities in Europe is 300-400 km, such distances are comfortable for traveling by car. You don’t get tired, and there is time to see the sights.

So, let’s go. Since during the trip I still have to work a little, I have studied in detail all the issues of international roaming and am ready to share with you.

Option 1. Buying a prepaid card on the way to one of the European countries

Lithuanian Zhdun, brother of the Russian Zhdun. The sculpture is located in the palace of the President of Lithuania.

Western Europe for a Russian traveling by car often starts from Lithuania. The M1 highway to the border with Belarus looks good, after that too, although due to the cancellation of toll sections, the road in places began to resemble the Russian model of 2005. It is a pity that two payments of 20 rubles for 400 km seemed to someone a huge amount.

But back to SIM cards. There are three operators in Lithuania – Tele2, Omnitel and Bite. Let’s estimate what awaits us if we buy a SIM card with a separate Pildyk number from Tele2. Pildyk prices start at 5 euros. Calls abroad to Europe 0.54 € / min, and to countries such as Norway or Russia 0.72 € / min. If you buy a package of mobile services, then 100 MB costs 2.50 euros, 200 MB – 5 euros. Calls within Lithuania to numbers of any networks are free if you purchase the VISI package.

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pros local SIM card – you definitely won’t get unexpected surprises from Russian mobile operators.
Minuses – all contractors will have to give their new number. Yes, and it turns out expensive in the end, but more on that below.

Option 2. Roaming package from a Russian operator

Photo: Lithuanian Zhdun

Lithuanian Zhdun, as it were, hints – wait for favorable rates

My operator divides all countries of the world into 4 categories (and this greatly affects the cost). Apparently, the main characteristic is the distance from the Kremlin. But how then can one explain that Cuba, Turkmenistan and the Maldives fell into the same group under the code name “exotic countries”. Lithuania escaped this fate, and here are the tariffs this operator offers us:

Package for 20 minutes of conversation – 200 rubles.
Outgoing SMS – 20 rubles.
40 MB – 200 rubles

Shit! 200 MB for a Pildyk card costs 5 euros or ≈ 303 rubles, and here 40 MB for 200 rubles.

The red and white operator has the following tariffs:
RUB 25 – the cost of 1 minute of a call from Lithuania to Russia.
135 RUB – the cost of a call from Lithuania to another country, for example, to Germany.
19 RUB – 1 SMS.
450 RUB – unlimited Internet. It is debited once a day, be careful, this is not a one-time payment!

And here are the tariffs of the green operator:
RUB 49 – 1 minute of conversation.
129 RUB – 1 minute of conversation if you call from Lithuania to any country other than Russia.
RUB 350 – 70 Mb of the Internet per day.

The green operator has options to “save” roaming charges. But you and I are scientists – you turn on the option to save the cost of a call, and a daily subscription fee immediately appears. No matter how you put a check in the choice of a convenient tariff, a profitable combination will not appear. This is not poker!

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pros – you save your number, everyone can get through.
Minuses – expensive.

Option 3. Do nothing, drive as is

Photo: Sculpture

And here they are, favorable rates … (Sculpture “Apple” in the Palace of the President of Lithuania)

It is strange that someone could choose that option. But you never know what situations happen in life. Forgot to turn on roaming and went to rest. If so, then be prepared to spend 100 rubles or more. per minute of conversation and 200 rubles. per megabyte of data. But as a result, you will most likely have bills for tens of thousands of rubles. Such stories are no longer surprising.

pros – They are not here.

Option 4. Buy a tourist SIM card in advance, in Moscow

Photo: Flowers and sculpture

This is how the shattered dreams of Russians about profitable roaming look like (sculpture in the Palace of the President of Lithuania)

Travel SIM cards appeared a long time ago as a response to the indecently high tariffs of mobile operators. It’s amazing that they are still preserved in the era of messengers. But as Vladimir Mayakovsky wrote in the first “Journal of Russian Futurists”:

After all, if the stars light up –
means – somebody needs it?
So – someone wants them to be?
So – someone calls these spit a pearl?

This means that someone needs tourist SIM cards, and if so, then this option should be considered. Let’s take the tariffs of one of the travel SIM card sellers:

A call from Europe to Russia costs 0.39 euros (about 23 rubles) per minute.
1 SMS – 0.19 euros (about 12 rubles).
1 MB of data – 0.19 euros (about 12 rubles).

The average cost of a tourist SIM is 350 rubles. But if you think that this money will go to the starting balance, then you are wrong. There will be “0” rubles. The tariffs seem to be good, but let’s dig a little deeper and find out where these prices come from. The thing is that tourists use the USSD-callback technology (callback). After dialing the number, disconnection occurs and then the call goes back from the called subscriber. This technology is very annoying with frequent use.

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pros – cheaper than cellular operators.
Minuses – callback technology, disconnections, ancient technology from the times of pagers, a new number that no one knows.

Option 5. Use Viber Out

Photo: Alien Waiting

And this, most likely, is the alien Zhduny (sculpture in the palace of the President of Lithuania)

But what if I tell you that calls are possible without roaming at all, and even from my own number? Yes, this is possible if you use instant messengers for communication. Calls are made using VoIP technology, that is, via the Internet. Due to this, messengers offer significantly lower call rates. Consider Viber Out tariffs for several European countries:

Lithuania – 11.98 rubles. for city, 29.98 rubles. – to mobile phones in Russia.
Germany – 1.27 rubles. for city, 5.33 rubles. – to mobile phones.
United States – 1.27 rubles. to landline and mobile.
United Kingdom – 1.27 rubles. for landlines, 3.93 for mobiles.
France – 1.27 rubles. for city, 4.66 rubles. to mobile.

Why Lithuania is one of the most expensive countries in the world in terms of mobile communications is a mystery, but here too Viber Out comes to the rescue. Still 11.98 rubles. this is not 43 rubles. as in the case of a prepaid SIM card of a local operator or the tariff of a Russian telecom operator. A starter pack for Viber Out account replenishment starts at $ 0.99 and this is about 1 hour of communication with the same Germany.

Let’s sum up

Having considered all the options, I chose the SIM card of the Lithuanian operator and Viber Out. In my opinion, this is the optimal combination. The SIM card of a cellular operator itself is a backup, a reserve in case of unforeseen circumstances. And Viber Out has become the main working tool in negotiations with customers. I always turn off Russian SIM cards when traveling abroad. This is more reliable for the wallet. Well, now let’s go! And I press the gas pedal. The vacation has begun.

PS Thanks to Lithuanian Waiting for information on local SIM cards.