Went to my phone store (Vodafone AU) And they suggested I get European sim card once I get to London.
Has anyone come across a good SIM card/phone carrier that has decent rates and is able to be used Europe wide? I know people may not know rates to Aus, so just a SIM that seems to have no problems with connection would be good to know.
The countries I am travelling to are; England, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Rep. Austria. If anyone has any suggestion for all/some of these places I'd really appreciate it, although advice for England, Spain, France, Italy and Germany would be awesome, since I am spending a week in all of these destinations.
You could certainly buy a "European SIM card" when you arrive in London with one of the local networks (O2, Vodaphone, Orange, etc.), however the rates charged would be based on a "home area" of the U.K. Using this in the other countries you mentioned would be considered "roaming" and the rates would be somwhat higher (ie: you would deplete the "minutes" on your PAYG card much faster).
You could also buy a SIM card in each country you visited, however this is a very awkward solution as the phone number would change each time you inserted a new card, making it very difficult for people to know which number to use to reach you. At the end of the trip, you'd have a bag full of SIM cards.
The best option for a SIM card with consistent rates, you might have a look at one of the "travel SIM" firms such as Cellular Abroad, Call In Europe, Roam Simple, Mobal or Telestial. They use numbers based in countries such as Liechtenstein and the rates are grouped in "zones", so the costs are fairly consistent. Have a look at the websites for these firms to get an idea of the rates.
I normally use roaming with my home network (Rogers) when I travel, and try to use text as much as possible to keep the costs down. So far this method has worked reasonably well, but it's something I evaluate prior to each trip.
Good luck and happy travels!
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Eagle, Im having a really tough time with figuring out a phone plan as well. I see you are also from Canada and with Rogers so you seem to be the perfect person to help me. I am spending 6 weeks in Europe this summer (From France towards Turkey) and I can't figure out the best option. My parents want me to have a phone so that they can reach me if they need to. I have a phone I can take with me but it is not unlocked so I don't think only getting a european sim card is an option. If I rent a phone is it possible to travel across europe (how do I return it). I would be happy with mainly texting so would it be better to keep my current plan or would roaming charges be insane? Also, is it easy to purchase a phone or sim card once I arrive in Paris or should I do it before I leave?
Daisy, someone told me you can get an unlocked phone from 7-11 (in Vancouver) for $35 or so. I haven't tried that yet. I did find out that there are places that will unlock my phone for about the same price. But so far I haven't done this.
What I do (with Fido) is sign up for a plan that gives me about 15 minutes at whatever they charge ($1.50 or so per minute, I think), and some discount on text messages. Then I rarely use my phone when I'm on a trip, but if someone calls me and I want to answer, I've already prepaid so I answer it. Maybe Rogers has something similar. Also, if your parents leave you voice-mail messages, then you can phone your voice mail from a landline and avoid using precious cell phone minutes. If you phone from a landline, use a calling card that is available cheaply at corner-store type places. (However, double-check your provider's policy, because Fido used to charge you at the roaming rate to receive voice mail messages if you took your phone out of the country. Thankfully they stopped that.) If you promise to check your voice-mail, your parents can probably mostly avoid urgent phone calls, and so you will hardly need any minutes on your cellphone.
There are several options you might consider for Cell phone coverage when travelling.
Using roaming with Rogers is one option, and provides consistent rates regardless of which country you're in (except for some countries in eastern Europe, which are more expensive). However, in the last year or so their international roaming rates have increased substantially and voice calls are now about $2 / minute and texts 75¢ each (plus applicable taxes and fees).
You could certainly purchase a phone and SIM in France (or other country) when you arrive. This would provide good rates in the country of purchase, but if you use that phone in other countries you would then be "roaming" and the costs would increase. One disadvantage of using this approach is that the cell plan would likely be on a "pre-paid" basis, which means you'd have to top it up from time to time. Finding a place to top-up a French phone in places like Turkey might be a bit of a challenge. Another disadvantage of this approach is that anytime your parents want to call you, they'd have to dial long distance to Europe and pay the applicable charges.
Another option (and the one I'll be trying this year) is to use a SIM from one of the "travel phone" companies such as Roam Simple, Call In Europe, Cellular Abroad, Mobal or Telestial (I already have a quad-band unlocked phone, so only need the SIM). They typically provide SIM's (and phones if desired) that provide consistent rates across most of western Europe (Turkey might be slightly higher). Check their web sites for further information on their rates and terms of service.
One advantage in using a "travel phone" is the fact that some of the plans are post paid, which means a credit card will be billed at the end of the month, and customers don't have to worry about topping up, or running out of minutes in the middle of a call.
At least one of the firms listed above can also provide a local number in any area code (at slight additional cost) which will be "mapped" to the customers European number, so that anyone wanting to call them simply dials a local number in their home area and no long distance is involved. However, text messages must be directed to the European number (there's usually a small cost to send texts and incoming texts are usually FREE).
The purchase cost of phones offered by the travel phone firms is quite reasonable. As your parents want you to have cell coverage while travelling, perhaps they'd be willing to help with the cost of the phone? The firm that I decided to try is based in Toronto, so post another note if you want further information. If you want the name of the firm, send me a PM. I won't know until I return from my trip whether this approach is substantially less expensive than roaming with Rogers.
Will Travel, Unlocking my phone would be very helpful. I live in the GTA (greater toronto area) and don't know where I can get this done. How did you find people who unlock phones?
Eagle, I forgot to mention that in turkey, I am staying with a friend therefore I won't need my cell phone. So I only really need a phone for France, Switzerland, Italy, and Greece, this may make things a bit easier.
In terms of renting a phone, even if i could find a place to top off the money on a pre-paid phone, where would I return it?
The second option of the travel phone seems to be a better solution in my case. Ill send you a pm for further info