The majority of globalized phone companies don’t pay a dime for cellphone roaming connections. They shouldn’t charge for it, but continue to do. Roaming charges are an insolent vestige of the past. It’s a way for phone companies to steal our money.
So the only way we have to avoid these charges –save from leaving our phones at home– is to buy a prepaid SIM card as soon as we get to our destination.
The majority of airports have cell phone shops. So, after going though customs, the first thing I do is go and buy a SIM. Since the shop is in the airport, I can make myself understood even if I don’t speak the language. Your first hours in a new place change radically if you have Google Translate and Tripadvisor!
Curiously, the two times I stayed to live in my destination, the prepaid carrier I selected ended up being my main carrier and plan in the long term. The prepaid market is more competitive and the offers are generally very good. They don’t give you phones “for free” every two years, but they don’t rob you blind, either.