Phone access in an age of cell phones

I will be on an extended solo trip to Europe and need to travel light and cheap. So, I'm thinking of just relying on a phone card and no technology beyond camera. Is there still easy access to public telephones in places like France, Italy, Austria, Croatia, Germany? Or, what is the most economical option for multiple countries over about 4 months? I would be only needing to make short confirmation/travel plan type calls within Europe.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21005 posts

Sally, I believe phone cards are still available, but probably not as prevalent as they were in the past. I've been travelling with a Cellphone for many years, so I've never had occasion to look for phone cards. Also, based on my "informal observations", there don't seem to be as many pay phones available in some countries in Europe these days. As you'll be on an "extended trip", are you aware of the provisions of the Schengen Visa. You'll only be able to stay in the Schengen area (which is most of Europe) for a maximum of 90 days in any 180 day period. Severe penalties can result for overstays. Happy travels!

Posted by David
Bellevue, WA, USA
754 posts

the other option is to bring a cheap smart phone and install skype on it. you can make skype calls with wifi connection. wifi is everywhere, and many hotels/hotels even have skype installed on their pc so you can use that to call.

Posted by Sally
48 posts

It was my understanding that the visa applies to those who are required to possess a Schengen Visa (which is not US citizens). Please correct me if I'm wrong. I had seen elsewhere that a stay of 6 months is permitted for US tourists to these countries.

Posted by Sally
48 posts

The info I am seeing now does have the 90 day limit. In 2009, I traveled in these countries for 108 days, no questions asked...coming out of Athens through Amsterdam. Hmmm.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21005 posts

Sally, You may find it helpful to have a look at the "official" information from the U.S. Department of State. That may provide some clarification. Some people seem to get away with longer stays and never get caught. However, those that do get caught can face severe fines and/or expulsion from the E.U. for varying times. Cheers!

Posted by Bets
2714 posts

There are fewer and fewer public phones in France. When you do find one, it's often broken. We've used a cell phone for the last seven years.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
3846 posts

Hi, Yes, there is access to public phones in Germany, France, and Austria. In Germany I use phone cards and coins, if my card has run out. The easiest place to get phone cards (5 Euro or 10 Euro) is at the train station (Hbf.) of big cities, Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, Leipzig, Hamburg, etc. At these stations Virgin Music is one outlet. The post offfice, located just outside of the Hbf. as in Munich, Hannover, Berlin (Bahnhof Zoo and Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse), and Vienna Westbahnhof sells them too as do ReiseBank at the Hbf. Where you can bet are numerous reliable pay phones taking coins or phone cards is at the train stations in Germany and Austria, the same in France. Near the Hbf. are internet cafes, much cheaper to use to make phone calls, domestic/international, than using a phone card.

Posted by Thomas
Snyder, Texas
504 posts

Are phone cards still for sale in tobacco and newspaper shops? If you have a phone card, most hotel rooms have a phone. When I have used a card, I used the card on the room phone. Even if the instructions are in a foreign language, you use them the same as here.

Posted by Lo
1284 posts

I guess it may depend on how cheap you plan to go, but I have been surprised at the number of lodgings that now have FREE phone service available to the US and other countries as well as local. I'm not sure of the system, but it seems to be bundled with the TV service. Be sure to ask when you make reservations or check in. You may not need to use a card at least in some of the places you stay.

Posted by Allen
Lafayette, LA
205 posts

If planning on making few calls, yes, you can get by with a cheapo phone card (bought there, not here). Public phones are fewer in number, but you will always finds banks of them in and near train stations and major subway stops. But a cell phone sure is convenient!