Trabug: The Best Alternative to Buying a Sim Card and Staying Connected in India

 

What is Trabug?

 

Staying connected during your travels has never been easier.  Most hotels and an increasing number of cafes worldwide are offering free Wifis.  You can also buy a local SIM card and add on mobile data package or top-up to get connected with local networks.  A more expensive option is to use international roaming service of your home country’s network.

Buying a local SIM card appears to be the easiest and cheapest option that will work like plug-and-play (as long as your phone is unlocked).  However, when in India, buying a local SIM card and getting connected is not that straightforward.

If you are looking for an easier, more convenient and of course, legal, route, then consider Trabug, India’s first travel phone rental service provider that goes with a 4G data and voice plan.  Trabug also provides rental of Wifi hotspot device if you are interested only in internet access.

Trabug caters to foreigners traveling to India for business, leisure and to meet family and friends.  It provides a phone or hotspot device with a working India SIM card so you could skip the hassle of getting your own India SIM card and data package.  Read below the normal procedure for getting a SIM card in India.

 

Getting a SIM card in India: The Process

 

Here is the typical process of getting a SIM card in India as a foreigner or tourist.

Getting a SIm card in India

Obviously, getting an Indian SIM card is not as straightforward as in other countries, where all you need to do is buy the SIM card, insert it into your cellphone and you’re good to go.  You will find the process of getting an Indian SIM card a hassle if you do not come prepared with the complete documents.  Furthermore, you need to be within the area where you will buy your SIM card for 2 days, at most, to be able to have your SIM activated.

Prepaid tourist SIM card remains active for a maximum of 90 days only.  The service will automatically be deactivated after the maximum validity period.  Postpaid SIM cards are available, with 3 months as the minimum plan period.  Hence, a prepaid SIM card is ideal if you are spending less than 3 months in India.

 

Trabug: The Best Alternative to Buying an India SIM Card

 

Trabug is the easier alternative to buying a tourist SIM card in India.  Here is Trabug’s short cut version of the normal process for obtaining a working SIM card in India.

Trabug procedures

When buying your own SIM card, it is possible that your mobile phone won’t work if it is locked to your home country’s cellular network.  Your phone also needs to be compatible with India’s GSM bands, as follows:

2G: GSM 900, GSM 1800
3G: UMTS 900, UMTS 2100
4G: LTE 850 (5), LTE 1800 (3), LTE 2100 (1), LTE 2300 (40), LTE 2500 (41)

Network bands and frequencies are the radio signals sent out by carriers, which your cell phone will pick up to make calls and use data.  Hence, compatibility of your mobile phone with Indian GSM bands will determine the coverage and data speed on your mobile phone.

Trabug helps eliminate issues of non-compatibility by providing you with a compatible travel phone and a local SIM card.  There will only be a one-time activation process when you first turn on the phone, which involves encoding your birthday and passport number.  The SIM card will be activated instantly once you have entered the correct codes.

I was notified by e-mail 5 days prior to my arrival in India that my Trabug phone is on its way.  The pack arrived at my indicated accommodation address 2 days after.  I informed my host that they should expect the package, just to make sure they will be able to receive it and keep it safe until my arrival.

 

How much does it cost?

 

Check here to check Trabug’s pricing and plans.  Compared with using international roaming from your home country, Trabug will definitely be cheaper.  Data roaming from my country for 1 GB will cost around USD 6 to 8, excluding rates for international voice calls.  Trabug’s plan at USD 3.99/ day will already give you 1.2 GB data/ day, 120 minutes voice calls/day, 5 SMS/day and free incoming calls and texts.

 

Why Trabug is More Than Just a Phone with SIM Card

 

You will find, however, that using a local SIM card and your own mobile phone will be much cheaper.  An India SIM card should cost about INR 100 to 300 (about USD 1.4 to 4).  The cost of data and call package varies depending on where you buy and what network you choose.  Some are able to buy SIM card that is already loaded with data, voice calls and SMS credits.  For example, data worth 1 GB per day, unlimited calls and 100 SMS, valid for 28 days, can be obtained at INR 300 to 500.

Trabug rental may be more costly compared with buying a SIM and package plans.  On the other hand, in addition to the convenience, you also get more than what just a SIM card could offer.  Here they are:

 

Trabug phone as a Wifi hotspot

The Trabug phone is also a WiFi hotspot from which to share internet connection with up to 2 other devices like your own mobile phone, tablet or laptop.  If you’re traveling with someone, why not share not just your internet connection but also the cost of the plan?

I found it useful to hotspot to my personal phone when checking e-mails, using social media and doing online banking transactions.  In that way, I don’t need to re log-in my username and password to another device.

Trabug as Wifi hotspot

 

Trabug phone’s pre-installed applications

Trabug phone already comes with popular social media apps like Instagram, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, You tube, Skype, Twitter, Snapchat and Whatsapp.  The usual tools such as calculator, clock, calendar and Google Maps are also pre-installed.  Don’t worry about retaining your personal details at the end of the service period because all data will be wiped off upon checking out.

Trabug’s pre-installed Applications

The most useful Apps for me are Ola (India’s popular taxi booking App), Uber (you can also use this for booking taxis) and the IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited) App, where you can search and book your train tickets.

 

Trabug's pre-installed applications

 

Services made especially for travelers

Aside from transportation booking, Trabug includes other Apps that are especially useful for travelers.  These include location-based application as follows:

  • Eat – shows you a list of restaurants and best places to eat, a map view showing their locations, opening hours and distance from your current location
  • Shop – returns a list of nearby shopping malls, markets, location map and distance from current location
  • Visit – provides recommendations on places to visit, shows opening hours, location map and distance from current location
  • Change currency – allows you to exchange currency and have the cash delivered to you. I did not use this feature though because I got my local currency through ATMs.  You can still find use of this App to get an idea of the current exchange rate.
  • Hospital, Embassy and Police – a tap on these icons will give you contact information and location maps of nearby hospitals, embassy and police stations in case you need them.

An Audio Tour icon also appears in my Trabug phone. It is supposed to provide audio tour guides for attractions in India.  I called up the Support number when I tried to tap the icon and couldn’t get through.  Unfortunately, they informed me that this service has been discontinued and they are still looking for an alternative replacement.  It was quite disappointing as this would have been a great feature.

 

My Trabug Experience

 

The Trabug phone I rented arrived on time and in good condition.  I did not recall the brand.  That being said, the phone must have been a local brand.  Battery life is good, even better than my personal phone, which is 2 years old.  I usually turn on mobile data and GPS while in transit for a helping of my usual lack of sense of direction.

Trabug

I have only been to Rajasthan region during the time I had the Trabug phone.  Connectivity for calls and internet was good.  There were a few instances when the signal dropped to one bar or got totally lost but it lasted only for seconds and was probably due to some places having really weak spots.

My plan includes 1.2 GB data daily and found this sufficient for checking e-mails, using Google maps while on the go, checking my Instagram and Facebook accounts, uploading some images, and browsing through Google.  I’m not fond of watching You Tube videos, so I think 1 GB per day is more than enough for me.  If you do run out of data or voice call minutes, there’s a Trabug icon from the phone for recharge or top-up.  If you get the SIM card on your own, you will have to top-up from recharge shops.

As a solo traveler, having an Indian phone number and voice plan offered me the advantage of being able to connect with my homestay or accommodation contacts to ask pick-up arrangements from the train station.  They would also sometimes give me contacts of trusted tuk tuk drivers whom I can contact should I need a ride back to the accommodation.

Being able to stay online and track my location also gives me the confidence that I or my tuk tuk or cab driver is moving in the right direction and not intentionally misleading the way to find a reason to overcharge me.  Having mobile data also gives me the opportunity to make travel arrangements for my next destination while on a long train ride.

 

Need a train ride in India? Check routes, schedules and prices, and conveniently book online through 12Go Asia

 

Recommendations

 

Trabug is a great option for getting connected in India but it is not also the cheapest option.  I think the greatest advantage of renting Trabug over buying a SIM card in India is the convenience of having an “instant” SIM card while having the benefit of all the added services of the Trabug phone for travelers in India.

If you are willing to go through the processes of getting a tourist SIM card in India, then make sure to prepare all the necessary documents prior to your travel.  That way, you can save time and just have to deal with procedures controlled by your SIM card retailer and your chosen carrier.

Click here to check more reviews from Trabug users.

First time in India? Read about the 10 Things I Learned from my 10 Days in India.


Pin this post for later

Trabug

Disclosure:  Trabug provided me complimentary services in exchange for this review but all opinions are my own. No one from the company reviewed or approved the article. This post also contains Affiliate Links. This means if you book hotels, flights, or purchase product or services using the link(s) in this article, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for your continued support!

 

Get this free e-book and get updates!

 

Doorsgraphy E-book



14 thoughts on “Trabug: The Best Alternative to Buying a Sim Card and Staying Connected in India

  1. Milijana

    Never heard of Trabug before. But you have given here many useful info for renting it, especially useful for first time visitors to India. I like and appreciate much the infographics you made in this post! So helpful!

  2. Nic Hilditch-Short

    That’s really interesting, we have unlocked phones and usually just buy a cheap sim card and some data for the time we are in any given country. However we do know that some countries make it a little more complicated but we’ve never had a real issue. But it looks like in India it might be a little harder, so this is a great alternative.

  3. sunsetsandrollercoasters

    I’ve never heard of Trabug but it definitely seems like a really convenient option when travelling. We generally get local SIMs when in Europe but clearly its a much more difficult and detailed process in India so we’d definitely try Trabug as my husband needs to have a phone for work when travelling.

  4. Jerry and Fiona

    One day, maybe communications and compatibility will be less restrictive from country to country and device to device. Until then, this is good to know. Trabug seems like a solid service, though.

    1. findingjing Post author

      You are right, with the technology developing gradually, there will be a time when these limitations will be eliminated or reduced. This will be opportunities for communication services to also adapt to the needs of users.

  5. The Travel Bunny

    Wow, I had no idea it was this difficult to get another SIM card in India. Just one question, I saw that in the information they ask for, they also request the father’s name. Is it for like a security question that is posed later or why? It seemed a bit weird to me.

    1. findingjing Post author

      I also found that weird when I learned the first time. Apparently, In India, your father’s name is an important proof of ones identity. The patriarchal culture in India is still definitely evident.

  6. trimmtravels

    Wow, I had no idea (as I haven’t been to India) that it was so difficult to get a SIM card there! That is definitely a hassle as you said. Trabug would absolutely be easier, but I would want to be able to use my own device because I do so much with photos/videos for social media. Granted I could still do that on my phone but couldn’t upload them right away, wouldn’t want to keep up with an additional device, and don’t want to take photos on another phone to have to transfer. How did you handle that part of it out of curiosity? I appreciate you putting the pros and cons to present the true picture. The details of the processes were also super helpful!

    1. findingjing Post author

      Hi! Thanks for your message. I used the Trabug phone as hotspot to connect my own phone to the internet. Like you, I prefer to take photos on my own phone and also to open my social media accounts in my personal phone (though you can also do this with the Trabug phone. Once you check out, the phone will be sort of “re-formatted”). The only hassle is having to always bring 2 phones. I use my own phone for photos and I use the Trabug phone to check on maps, book cabs and phone calls. I do the uploading and posting only at the end of the day when I’m already at my accommodation.

  7. Bernie Jackson

    That’s really useful to know, particularly as I can’t change out the sim in my phone. Great that it can be ready for you on arrival, and that it can be used as a hotspot too; I can then use my own for pics. That’s now filed away in my memory for future trips.

  8. Erica

    Great info! My phone is unlocked so I typically buy local sim cards wherever it is that I’m travelling, but it’s certainly true that this can be more complicated in some countries than in others! This sounds like a great alternative that I’ll definitely have to revisit when I finally make it to incredible India!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: