travel advice & savings
 
RAIL PASSES GUARANTEED LOWEST PRICES at RAILPASS.COM Click Here
11 replies
what phone?
fern
fern's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 12
Member: 12283
Joined: 04/02/2009
User offline. Last seen 12 years 35 weeks ago.

I am totally uneducated about cell/mobile phones. Please be patient.

I will be in London all summer with possible side trips to France, Spain, other(?)..

I do not have a cell phone now and will not be bringing a laptop with me. Basically I understand that phones these days can be used as wireless Internet, but what now? Where do I start? How? Who?

Do I buy a phone in London with appropriate sim card intact? Or get a phone here(US)? How do I know that it will work internationally? I think a payasyougo plan makes the most sense and yes, I want to set this up as cheaply as possible.

I really am naive on this matter. Starting from scratch. Don’t be fooled because I used the word sim card above…I’m not too clear on that either.

Anyone?

Don
Don's profile picture
Moderator
ModeratorModeratorModeratorModeratorModerator
Eurotrip Points: 30
Member: 59
Joined: 01/03/2007
User offline. Last seen 5 years 14 weeks ago.

Several ways to answer this.

1. You could take your US phone with an international roaming plan. This can be expensive, but easiest if you already have a phone and plan that allows international roaming in Europe.

2. You could get your phone unlocked—if you have fulfilled the contract, and if it uses sim. Once arrived, buy a pre-pay sim that allows roaming for the places you want to visit.

3. Buy a pre-pay phone and airtime at ASDA or Tesco once arrived.

4. I wouldn’t worry about internet if calls and sms are most important to you. Data roaming charges can be astronomical. However, if you want to depend on possible open hotspots, and use Fring with Skype (that’s what I do), then you need a wifi-enabled phone. Iphone, some nokias, some LGs, and probably more since I last shopped them, are wifi enabled.

—- Edit —-
Re-read and noticed you said you do not have a phone now. In that case, you could buy an unlocked phone before you leave from Ebay, Tigerdirect, Cellhut, etc. Wifi phones tend to cost at least $250, so if you don’t think you’ll use wifi, just go for any sim phone that fits your budget.

What I meant about picking one up once you’re there is research ahead to find out which prepaid plan would be best for your situation (Virgin, Sonofon, Orange, etc.). Then pick up the phone and airtime once arrived—since if you’re staying there for some time, you’ll probably be stocking up on some basics soon after arrival, anyway.

www.asda-phones.co.u…
www.tesco.com/teleco…

oldlady
oldlady's profile picture
Moderator
ModeratorModeratorModeratorModeratorModerator
Eurotrip Points: 19
Member: 778
Joined: 01/03/2007
User offline. Last seen 5 years 19 weeks ago.

I can’t imagine that the best deal in your situation won’t be to wait until you arrive in London and spend a day or so finding the best pay-as-you-go or short term contract for your needs.

If you’re in London for a school program see if anyone who’s been there before has suggestions or if there’s any cell phone information available. Many universities either formally or informally help the kids going to an overseas program buy cell phones from the kids who are coming home.

fern
fern's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 12
Member: 12283
Joined: 04/02/2009
User offline. Last seen 12 years 35 weeks ago.

Thank you. I think I am beginning to understand.

The main thing is that the phone is unlocked?…or is that just if I buy it in the US? Unlocked meaning it will work here AND there?

When/if I buy a phone once in London the unlocked element is not so important? True?

I had assumed that all phones were wifi-enabled now and that it was just a matter of choosing which one. It seemed a practical matter to just have one piece of technology with me for all occasions. phone/internet/camera/umbrella(!)

will work this out eventually.

augustin25
augustin25's profile picture
Eurotripper
EurotripperEurotripperEurotripperEurotripperEurotripper
Eurotrip Points: 1696
Member: 369
Joined: 01/03/2007
User offline. Last seen 8 years 23 weeks ago.

There are two things to consider about using a U.S. phone in Europe. First, the U.S and Europe use different frequencies (and in the cases of some companies, completely different technologies) for mobile phones; you’ll need a quad or tri band GSM phone if you want it to work on both continents. Second is the issue of having an unlocked phone. A locked phone can only use a SIM card from the carrier you purchased the phone from, so you would not be able to go to Europe and buy a SIM card from a European carrier. A locked tri or quad band U.S. phone will work in Europe but you’ll pay international roaming rates.

You can buy unlocked phones, but they are more expensive than if you get a phone by signing a contract with a carrier like AT&T since the price of the phone is discounted when they lock you into a contract (you have to decide if you prefer an unlocked phone that doesn’t tie you to a contract or a subsidized phone with a contract). If you get a phone by signing a contract you can get the unlock code from the carrier if you tell them that you are going abroad for an extended period. If you choose to get a phone with a U.S. carrier, make sure it will work in Europe in the first place- most Sprint, Verizon, and Alltell phones will not work in Europe at all. Those carriers don’t use SIM cards, so even if you get a phone from them that will work, you’ll be paying roaming charges.

The fact that you want to use the internet on your phone opens up a whole new ball of wax because then you’re dealing with data plans that are billed differently than calls.

oldlady
oldlady's profile picture
Moderator
ModeratorModeratorModeratorModeratorModerator
Eurotrip Points: 19
Member: 778
Joined: 01/03/2007
User offline. Last seen 5 years 19 weeks ago.

To add to Augustin. Unless you have an expensive phone and an expensive calling plan (or an expensive unlocked phone and buy Sim cards) your US phone isn’t going to work in Europe. Unless you travel outside the US more than twice a year, are on an extended trip or have reason to want or need the expensive phone or plan in the US, it will probably be cheaper to get a European phone for your trip. I got a good deal on a rental through my US carrier (free rental, I just had to pay $21 two-way shipping for the phone and air-time in Europe at reasonably competitive rates). There are on-line sources for rentals or you can wait until you get there and find a phone and plan that meets your needs.

Since Fern doesn’t have, and doesn’t appear to want, a US phone, I think it’s going to be cheapest to just get a European phone in London.

Packer
Packer's profile picture
Traveler
TravelerTravelerTraveler
Eurotrip Points: 267
Member: 383
Joined: 01/03/2007
User offline. Last seen 10 years 36 weeks ago.

This reply is for everyone that thinking of taking their cell phones.
Call your provider FIRST and ask all the technical questions and find out what your costs will be. Like others have written, your charges are based on what plan you have now and there are hundreds if not thousands of price scales. You must have a lot of patience to read all the fine print in the contracts that are written by sharp lawers to make huge profit for the phone companies.
Do you really need a cell phone? I know of 3 students studying in Europe this year and they are all using SKYPE. They tell me that everyone is switching to SKYPE and many students in Barcelona had their cell phones stolen anyways and they have now switched to Skype saving their parents hundreds of dollars a month. If you can avoid a cell phone, spend the money on trying new food and new places to visit. If in a jam, you can buy a phone card at any newstand. I was in Australia this summer and the manager of an Internet cafe said he has closed down his phone booths in the back and will install more computers because everyone is turning to SKYPE. In over 13 years of traveling Europe, I have never brought a cell phone with me and never needed one. Hey moderator – a cell phone sticky should be made so the regulars don’t have to keep typing the same info.

london07
london07's profile picture
Member
MemberMember
Eurotrip Points: 88
Member: 12553
Joined: 04/08/2009
User offline. Last seen 12 years 24 weeks ago.

I highly recommend going to Carphone Warehouse in London. You can buy a pay as you go phone there for as little as £4.95 (roughly $7.30). There are many locations throughout the UK, so you should be able to get to one easily. http://www.carphonew…. Don’t buy it at Tesco or ASDA because it’s more expensive there and there are less choices. Just make sure the person who is selling it to you gives you one with a sim card that will work in all of Europe. Ironically, a MOBILE WORLD sim card works in England but DOES NOT work in Paris!!! So just be cautious.

I am leaving from NYC with $1250 for 16 days
London, Windsor, Brighton, London, Bruges, London, Marseilles, Liverpool, London
I am leaving from NYC and traveling for 124 days
London, Bath, Cardiff, Paris, Dublin, Howth, Malahide, Oxford, Rome, Florence, Perugia, Dover, Brussels
sh453
sh453's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 26
Member: 8499
Joined: 12/22/2008
User offline. Last seen 12 years 31 weeks ago.

I’m going to use Skype on my IPod touch when I’m within wireless zones to call home. It’s about 2 cents per minute, and you can call directly to mobile phones in the US. Yeah, will have to rely on wireless hotspots, but I think we’ll be able to find them often enough to call home to check in.

I am leaving from Dallas, TX with $3500 for 29 days
London, Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, London
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Food
renagel
renagel's profile picture
Traveler
TravelerTravelerTraveler
Eurotrip Points: 322
Member: 1414
Joined: 01/03/2007
User offline. Last seen 12 years 4 weeks ago.

http://golondon.abou…

about dot com comes up with a simple google search for London pay as you go

if you don’t talk alot, this would probably work well for you in terms of budget

I am leaving from Palo Alto with $123 for 22 days
London, Paris, Tours, Caen, La Rochelle, Annecy, Genoa, Venice, Florence, Rome
romanu
romanu's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 27
Member: 13819
Joined: 05/11/2009
User offline. Last seen 12 years 17 weeks ago.

My question is, if I were to buy a prepaid SIM card with one network (let’s say, Orange in England), is it possible for me to take whatever account balance I have left and go to another country (Romania, for example) and continue to use the same card on that same company’s network?

I’ll be going London, Bucharest, Athens, Paris – what common network is there across all of them?

My thanks in advance.

I am leaving from Chicago, IL with $1200 for 29 days
London, Paris, Bordeaux, Nice, Turin, Milan, Venice, Athens
Requesting help with Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Nightlife
london07
london07's profile picture
Member
MemberMember
Eurotrip Points: 88
Member: 12553
Joined: 04/08/2009
User offline. Last seen 12 years 24 weeks ago.

Yeah, I just got back from England, Belgium and France. My old phone wasn’t working, so I bought a new one at Carphone Warehouse in London for £4.95 (yes, you can get a whole phone for 4.95, including the sim card!!!). The network was TalkMobile and it worked when I was in Belgium and France as well, although the rates per minute were slightly higher. (If you read my comment above about the phone not working outside of London that was because I had Mobile World as my network and Carphone Warehouse doesn’t sell that anymore). So just go into the store and say that you want a sim card that will also work abroad.

I am leaving from NYC with $1250 for 16 days
London, Windsor, Brighton, London, Bruges, London, Marseilles, Liverpool, London
I am leaving from NYC and traveling for 124 days
London, Bath, Cardiff, Paris, Dublin, Howth, Malahide, Oxford, Rome, Florence, Perugia, Dover, Brussels