While traveling outside of the U.S. you will most likely find that having a cellphone can be quite helpful. Personally, I didn’t need any fancy bells and whistles, I just needed a very simple phone that would allow me to keep in touch with people I met on the road, call hostels and tour companies, and send/receive the occasional text. Unlike the U.S., most (if not all) other countries use cell phones that accept SIM cards, and from what I can tell, these phones are all also “unlocked.” What this means is that you can buy a phone in NZ, pop in a SIM card from and NZ company which will give you and NZ phone number, then when you move on to a new country, you simply get a new SIM card which gives you a new number. This way, you can take your phone from country to country, and you simply have to pay a small fee for a new SIM card.
In New Zealand (where I obtained my phone) there are three major providers to choose from: 2 degrees, vodoafone, and telecomm. All three of these companies offer phones, and various types of service. I ended up choosing Vodafone since they offered what they call an “add-on” package which allowed me to pay a flat amount of $35 for 100 minutes. The minutes allowed me to call any phone in NZ without having to worry about per minute usage fees which was nice. To me, this seemed to be the best option.
That’s really all there is to it. If you want to take care of this before you leave, you can pickup a cheap phone online (ebay). You just have to make sure it is globally unlocked, and accepts a SIM card. Nokia makes a great phone and will most often meet both these requirements.