Let me first explain why anyone would do without roaming, and why the need to receive SMS while overseas. Well, i signed up the Circles.Life flexi plan which has $0 monthly subscription. With this plan, which is completely free of charge, I get 1GB data, 30 minutes talk time and 10 SMSes, which, believe it or not, is sufficient for my usage, especially since the data part is bolstered by the free unlimited data plan from TPG. So, yep, i pay $0 per month for my communication needs.
The Circles.Life plan comes with the caveat of not being able to roam while abroad. It didn’t seem a problem to me initially, since all i thought i needed was data when overseas. I was wrong – i ran into the problem of not being able to receive SMS OTP. This proved to be a major problem for using the Youtrip app, which logs you out every now and then, and you’re forced to re-login with SMS OTP. (Okay, I found out they support email OTP also. But you may need SMS OTP for some other banking functionalities).
I started looking for a way to overcome this limitation, and an idea struck – i could put my Circles.Life SIM card into another phone and attempt to access the SMSes while overseas through some kind of App. I searched the net and found that, indeed, such Apps exist. The ones usually suggested by various websites are mysms and MightyText. What these Apps do is synchronize your SMS to a server and provide web based access to the SMSes. Well, as you could imagine, such services come with a price, if you want reliability. Actually i do read of complaints that even paid subscriptions didn’t guarantee reliability. I really wanted just a free solution to my problem, which i need only when i travel.
And then i came across an unexpected suggestion – Google Messages. There is a “Messages for web” feature that does exactly what i need! When you launch the Messages app on your phone (which is acting as the remote device), it reads SMSes off the other phone I which you have placed your SIM card. You can also view SMSes from a web browser. I gave it a test run and it worked flawlessly, for free! So, for this to work, you just need to insert your SIM card into a spare phone which you will leave at home when you’re out traveling, and you can access the SMS from anywhere in the world. Setup is a breeze, because you all you need to do is login to your Google account in the Messages app.
By the way, these days, you can get roaming data for cheap by purchasing prepaid data SIM cards online. Usually the prepaid data roaming packages offered by your Telco isn’t the cheapest available, so do shop around before deciding which one to get.