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Going out of the country for a few months? Apple will begin selling unlocked, contract-free iPhone 4S handsets online here in the US. The 16GB model will go for $649, 32GB for $749, and 64GB for $849. It's not a bad price to pay, but if you're attracted to Verizon or Sprint you should avoid going this route and purchase the handset for that service instead.
Sprint will also be locking up their iPhone 4S SIMS starting today. The locking will occur during the activation process (both Verizon and Sprint do this). However, if you're already on Sprint with an iPhone 4S, you're unaffected by this new change and your micro-SIM will remain unlocked.
If you're with Verizon and plan on traveling, you can request an unlocked SIM to use it overseas.