I do not have a cell phone and everyone tells me to call so so to confirm or make reservations. Is there a cell phone I can purchase in the USA that will allow me to call once I am in Poland? Since I will only be there for 2 weeks I do not want to purchase an expensive phone. Do I really need a cell phone?
Most airports will have a store that sells pre-paid phones with local service/number included. You can buy it on arrival then make calls within Europe (you get a certain number of minutes included with the price and then can add more if needed). These usually aren’t expensive. They are often very basic phones, but will work fine to make calls in Poland.
Do you need it? I don’t know. If you are staying in hotels you already booked and just need to call sights or restaurants to reserve or confirm hours, then the hotel would likely call for you or have a (landline) phone in the room or lobby you can use. If, however, you are trying to book hotels on the go or are staying in Airbnb type places where you need to call the owner to set up your arrival then you need a phone.
And if you are driving then it makes sense for possible emergencies.
My experience : I only make calls to Airbnb hosts, I can count on one hand the other local calls I’ve made in Europe. I’d never travel without my phone, but that’s because I use it for maps, language dictionary, directions, guidebook, camera, email home, pictures, and research. You don’t seem to want that. So...how many calls do you expect to need to make?
I have been traveling with a phone the last few years. I never call places to confirm reservations - but I haven't used AirBnB or places like that yet. I might confirm via email instead.
I traveled without a phone for years - so it's not ESSENTIAL. As noted above, if you are renting a car, though, it is really nice to have for emergencies. The first time I traveled with a phone, I used it to call the rental car company when dropping my car ("I can't find your office - where am I supposed to drop the car???") and calling them was enormously helpful. ("Drop it at the hotel across the street."). I've traveled with a laptop for longer than I traveled with a phone (still take a small laptop), but a smart phone might be much more helpful for email than calling, if you have no other internet device. Some lodgings have public computers you can use, but they may have Polish keyboards or be unreliable or insecure. But in recent years, my smart phone with Google Maps has saved me an enormous amount of time and frustration navigating cities on foot or by public transportation - no more fumbling with paper maps! Still...not "required" but very helpful. I doubt I'd travel without one again - and the cost has come way down.
If you aren't familiar with a smart phone at this point, I wouldn't buy one the week before your trip and expect to figure it all out when you get to Poland. At very least, you could get a used or older smart phone from someone who has upgraded and use the old phone on WiFi (no need to have phone service in Poland - just used it at the hotel or a cafe with WiFi) and at least be able to email hotels and check reservations (or use a tablet for the same thing). You can even make calls with such a phone just on WiFi, if need be - with apps like WhatsApp or Skype or Google Hangouts. And you can use most phones for emergencies (911 equivalent) even without phone service.
If not driving, I would worry less about having a phone.
Do I really need a cell phone?
Nope. People tell you to call because they assume you have a cell phone on you. All you have to do is to correct them and say that you won't be able to call because your phone doesn't work overseas. What are they going to do? They'll work around it, that's what. Confirmations can be done via e-mail before your trip, there is no "absolute" need to have a phone with you. A "nice to have" is not a "must".
I suppose one doesn't "need" a cell phone but I find that especially as a solo traveller, having a phone has really helped me when problems occur (such as becoming injured).
If you just want a phone for two weeks, one of these plans may work for you.....
Be sure you check the websites thoroughly, to be sure that you're clear on the rates and terms. I beleive a couple of those firms also rent phones so that may be an option, although it will probably be expensive.
If you're thinking of getting a mobile phone in the near future, you could also buy an unlocked phone off E-Bay, Amazon or similar sites, and then just buy a SIM card either from one of the travel phone companies listed above or when you arrive in Europe.
Good information from all. Thanks
AT&T has an option to extend your home phone plan to any of over 100 cities for $10 per day. Since we have unlimited data, we never turned off our roaming cellular. For 2 weeks we used the phone like we were home. The total bill was about $130 or so. Just contact AT&T and take that option.