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What type of cell phone to use and where to get it?

I am taking a first trip to Ireland (tour) in April. I do not have an I Phone or Smart Phone here in N.Y.C- only an old fashioned flip phone. Need info on options for buying/renting cell phone for use on 10 day trip or info on other options. Thanks Joanne

Posted by
1860 posts

I suggest upgrading your old phone to a new smartphone - not just for your trip to Ireland but permanently.

Look at a moto E or moto g4 then buy a sim in Ireland

Posted by
2751 posts

I've found it very easy and relatively inexpensive to pick up a phone and plan in Britain (and did same in Sweden). It cost less to buy a phone and top up plan than to change to an international plan here in the US ( I just researched this). You can google near your hotel so you will know where to go when you get there. In fact, the phone I used in Sweden is now my everyday phone as my prior flip phone I now have a smart phone for dirt cheap money. However, if you are taking a tour do you still need a phone? I have opted out of a phone for my Greece trip as it didn't make sense cost wise when I'm not likely to use I'll have a list of contact hotels for my family if need be (and I will have wifi on occasion) and/or I assume the tour would know if I disappear, and will at least have a clue where to start looking for me! ;) I've only needed a phone when I have wanted to call citizens of the country I am visiting...unlikely to happen on a tour.

Posted by
11266 posts

What is your current carrier and your current phone model? It may work in Ireland as is, or be "hackable" to work there.

Renting a cell phone is not only hard these days, but more expensive than buying. As MrsEB said, you have a lot of options, including buying a phone here or in Ireland (both smartphones and flip phones are sold in both places). That is, if your current phone can't be made to work there.

What do you plan to use the phone for? Calls to the US? Calls within Ireland? Calls to your travel partners with you on this trip? Will texts work instead of calls? Do you also need or want smartphone functions, like maps, e-mail, train schedules, weather, internet? What other devices are you traveling with? If you're bringing another way to get e-mail, for instance, you don't need to have it on the phone; if you're not, you may want that.

The answers to these questions will determine the best option for you, so let us know and we can outline the options.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks everyone! Wonderful advice. Will think through- Yes may not even need one as it is a tour- my first escorted. With my traveling in past always went the Arthur Frommer (in the 70's) and Rick Steves way, but back problems and difficulty with lifting suitcase, walking miles at a time are preventing that right now. Also don't want to drive in Ireland and public transportation there is poor. May be good to buy one there for use back home as was suggested too. Will consider all. Thanks again. Joanne

Posted by
224 posts

If you just want a phone to make calls in Ireland while you are there, you can buy an inexpensive phone and plan when you arrive.

Last year, I upgraded to a Google smartphone to help with a number of travel details (including maps while driving). The Google Fi has good rates for international calls.

Below is some information, I copied from other Rick Steves forums last year about cell phones in Ireland. I don't have the links to the original posts or authors.

Carphone Warehouse

There are 6 main mobile phone service providers in Ireland. The relevant websites are listed below. Please refer to the websites for information on special offers, price plans and free web text service.

At Vodafone, they have a prepaid phone for €30.
The people at a Vodafone store can get you set up when you're over there.

Tesco (supermarket) sells pay as you go cell phones. You can get a cheap phone, load credit on it (top up that you purchase at the Tesco) and make very cheap calls. Only 2 cents from Ireland to US! Plus then you can use it within Ireland as well. If my family wanted to reach me, I'd have them text my irish mobile and then call them.

You can find info on Tesco here:

When using an Irish mobile phone you do need to take care in border counties not to roam onto a British network from Northern Ireland. This can easily happen in parts of Donegal, Louth, Monaghan, Leitrim and Cavan. Set the phone not to roam. Charges though are reducing all the time for this and some services have removed them altogether on some plans.

Posted by
6 posts

Yes, am very aware of requirements for Rick Steves tours and that is why I did not book a Rick Steves tour. Am going with CIE.