Travelling to Europe: advice on phones, mac

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by wordmunger, Feb 12, 2007.

  1. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2003
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #1
    I'll be headed to Europe for 7 weeks this summer. Most of the time we'll be in Italy, but we're also going to Paris, Prague, Vienna, and Greece.

    Our current mobile won't work in Europe, but I'm otherwise happy with the service and don't want to change, so.. I was wondering if there was a way to buy a european mobile, just for the two months we'll be there. Obviously we won't want a lengthy contract; just a phone that we can use to make local calls, arrange reservations, and so on.

    Any recommendations on a good cheap service that will work all over Europe that I can order from the U.S. before I leave?

    Also, I realize I'll need to get a universal power adapter for my iBook, but are there any other computer-related suggestions for our visit?

    Any and all wisdom from travelers and / or residents will be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. wordmunger thread starter macrumors 603

    wordmunger

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2003
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #2
    I know it's uncool to reply to my own post, but I've done a little research and found that virgin mobile has a french web site:

    http://www.virginmobile.fr/index_prospects.php

    Looks like they have some prepaid offerings, which is exactly what I'm looking for. Does anyone know if you can buy these phones "off the rack" in French stores, the way you can find Virgin Mobile at Target/Best Buy in the U.S.? What stores?
     
  3. j26 macrumors 65832

    j26

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2005
    Location:
    Paddyland
    #3
    Europe is several different countries, so if you want to be able to use the phone in different counries you will need to check out their roaming charges, and if there are special requirements to use it in other countries (such as a deposit)

    In most countries you can buy PAYG phones with credit on them, or if you can get hold of an unlocked GSM phone (you might be able to pick up a cheap one on eBay) you will probably be able to get a SIM card that you can pop into the phone - the benefit of this is that they usually have the same amount of credit in them as the price of the SIM card. In Ireland at least you can pick up a PAYG phone for about €50 if you'e not too fussy about the style, and that includes €80 call credit.

    You might be better sticking to Vodafone or O2 if you plan on using it in several countries.
     
  4. Mydel macrumors 6502a

    Mydel

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2006
    Location:
    Sometimes here mostly there
    #4
    You dont have to worry. All you need is quad band phone. Prepaid sim cards (remember NO CDMA) you can purchase virtually everywhere and frankly spreaking no matter what provider you chooose, prices per minute are nearly the same. You are also NOT charged for incoming calls. You can add airtime in stores, gas stations etc, so thats also no big deal.
    As for the comuter everything will work OK just dont forget to take with you universal plugs or mac traveler kit.
    Im some countries they are NOT sold (Sweden)!
     
  5. j26 macrumors 65832

    j26

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2005
    Location:
    Paddyland
    #5
    Free Wi-Fi
     
  6. cognomen42 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2007
    Location:
    Warboys, UK
    #6
    Hi there,

    I'm in the UK but I suppose the first question is which country will you land in first?

    It's very easy to get a mobile (not cell phone!!) "off the shelf" in Europe that is triband and pay-as-you-go. Go to any shopping centre, town or city and you'll find a variety of phone shops. Some are carrier specific such as Virgin, Vodaphone, O2, T-Mobile etc but they all have pay-as-you-go phones which you will have to buy outright but which do not have a long term contract to lock you in.

    Be aware that some shops will lock the phone to a particular carrier so you will only be able to use Vodaphone (for example) SIM which will then be useless to you when you return to the USA if you don't spend another £10 to get it unlocked before your return.

    For example, I've just bought my son a Samsung D500 triband for around £120 from Carphone Warehouse (where you can get unlocked phones) with a Vodaphone SIM "loaded" with £10 worth of calls. You can however get much cheaper phones from there but he wanted a posh one. Check it out on the web for examples from similar mobile phone sellers.

    I would guess you just need ID and real money to get one that will cover all the countries you've mentioned. No need to order it, just buy it when you arrive then let all the relevant people know your number once you have it set up (i.e. around five minutes later!).

    As far as the laptop is concerned, it might be worth looking at getting a BTopenzone/T-Mobile/iWind etc etc wireless package as well. As you will be away for only two months, do you have wireless provider in the USA which also has a "roaming partner" in Europe? Hotels usually charge high rates for wireless access - around £6 per hour - yes that's GBP not USD!! which is why you may find it cheaper to get a USA partner involved.

    Most of the countries here run at 240volts and you can get a gadget that gives you all the different types of plugs so you will need to check you have the correct type of power plug or each country.

    Keep asking the questions and we'll try to help....!

    :)
     
  7. wordmunger thread starter macrumors 603

    wordmunger

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2003
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #7
    All right -- sounds like Vodaphone is what I want, and I can just buy an unlocked phone and a prepaid vodaphone SIM. I really don't care about the number -- I don't expect others to call me. I just need it to work while I'm there for things like restaurant/hotel reservations, etc., so that sounds perfect.

    I suppose another possibility (to avoid roaming charges) would be to buy a new prepaid SIM in each country I go to.

    Are unlocked phones cheaper in Europe, or could I get one here before I go, then buy the SIM when I arrive?

    (we're landing Paris first, then four weeks in Italy, then Czech republic, Austria, Greece)

    Thanks!
     
  8. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2004
    Location:
    Communard de Londres
    #8
    You can buy a unlocked phone from about £10 up, sim cards cost from £1 up as an example this place:

    http://www.phatphones.com/phones_to_clear.htm

    There are many others.By the way if you end up with a locked phone in London at least you can get it unlocked for 50p.
     
  9. cognomen42 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2007
    Location:
    Warboys, UK
    #9
    Having looked at Peterkro's suggestion of the Phatphones site, I'd go with something like that! In fact I may go there myself!

    As you can guess, being out in the sticks has its disadvantages! We don't see those prices in the shires!

    You are right - to save a few quid I'd buy the SIM when you arrive in each country - they usually come with about GBP10 or the equivalent in Euros which will start you off and may last until you get to the next country.

    Don't forget all your leads and chargers!
     
  10. wordmunger thread starter macrumors 603

    wordmunger

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2003
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #10
    Just for closure, I ended up buying a Mobal phone.

    Worked fine all over Europe. I didn't need to make many calls, so the cost per minute wasn't really an issue. Friends who brought their regular phones from the US all had problems, so this may be the best option for others travelling abroad.

    Also, for the full trip report, head over to my blog. We had a great time!
     

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