International roaming charges for wireless data and voice calls are no joke; unwary travelers have been known to come home to four-digit phone bills. All of the major carriers offer roaming plans you can buy for the duration of your trip, but they\u2019re not particularly cheap.\nNow Sprint, in hopes of luring new customers, is making an offer to travel-minded consumers: the company says it is dropping charges for international roaming in \u201cLatin America, Europe and Japan.\u201d But if you read the offer with even a little bit of care, you\u2019ll see that it isn\u2019t a very good deal.\nLet\u2019s start with the scope. Only eight countries -- Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Russia, South Korea, Spain and the United Kingdom \u2013 are covered by the deal.\nAnd if you are going to those countries, you won\u2019t be downloading data very fast because Sprint says you\u2019ll be roaming \u201cwith up to 2G speeds to read emails and surf the Web at no additional charge.\u201d That\u2019s really, really slow. So slow, that you won\u2019t be able to do much besides download mail (slowly) and maybe get to a Web site before it times out \u2013 unless you can find a Wi-Fi connection to jump on.\nIf you\u2019re already a Sprint customer, the deal could be a bit helpful, but it\u2019s certainly no reason to switch to Sprint if you\u2019re not. T-Mobile launched a \u201cfree roaming plan\u201d plan back in 2013 and it too was burdened with gotchas.\nWhat are the alternatives? Sprint has a number of paid International roaming plans that offer 3G speeds \u2013 not as fast as the 4G LTE most of us are used to, but a lot zippier than pokey old 2G. For $15, you can get a one-day pass good for 100MB of data; $25 buys 200MB over seven days; and $50 buys 500MB for 14 days. The other carriers have their own versions of these paid roaming plans as well.\nFrankly there\u2019s a better alternative no matter which carrier you use: buy a local SIM card from a provider in the country you\u2019re traveling to. That gets you on that carrier\u2019s network for a set amount of data, time and money. Generally, that is a much better alternative than any of the other options. I\u2019ve done that and it worked out quite well. Switching a SIM is very easy \u2013 just don\u2019t lose your original.\nThere are, though, a few complications. Because your phone might not be compatible with an overseas network even with a local SIM card, you want to find that out in advance. Generally a few minutes of searching on the Web will give you an answer -- or call your wireless company and ask.\nIf you\u2019re traveling to a number of countries and won\u2019t be staying in one place very long, it might actually be cheaper to use your carrier\u2019s roaming plan.\nNo matter what option you choose \u2013 be sure you choose one. Otherwise you\u2019ll either be phoneless while you\u2019re traveling or a lot poorer when you come home.