Will I need a Poland-specific SIM card for my iPhone 5S? I did get a SIM card while in Italy a few years ago, but don't know what is now required. Verizon is happy to sell me a $40/month plan to cover phone/text/data for each device, but doesn't say peep about SIM cards. What is your experience with taking along iPhones and iPads to Poland?
I used my iPhone in Poland--and many other countries--with no problem, just added AT&T's international plan to cover calls, texting and some data just in case, though I always use wi-fi whenever possible. I factor the cost as part of my expenses.
At very least, you can use them both on WiFi for no fee, without buying a SIM or an international plan from Verizon. Having mobile data for at least one device is very helpful, though, especially for walking and public transit directions on the go.
If they are unlocked, you should be able to use them in Europe. Verizon doesn't lock its phones anymore. So you should be good with the phone. The tablet? Really not sure if it is locked or whether it will work with a European SIM. I'd say: probably will. If not, you can try using the iPhone as hotspot and use the tablet connected to the phone's hotspot via WiFi. That's how I used my Amazon tablet recently (it is a WiFi-only tablet anyway so I don't even have a choice to put a SIM card in).
One thing that has changed recently is that the EU has mostly done away with roaming between countries. So you can buy a SIM for your phone in say Poland and use it when you get to Austria, without extra charges. I'd get a SIM in the first country you visit. If you aren't leaving for a while, you can even buy a SIM before you leave for Europe.
FYI, that Verizon $40/month plan gives you very little data - you'll probably run out quickly and pay overage charges. Their $10/day plan is much better but much more expensive. At least they charge you only on the days you use it! If you are from the US, you can install the Google Hangouts app and make free phone calls to US phone numbers, even to landlines, while in Europe. This works while you are on WiFi too even if you don't have a SIM or any service in Europe. You do need to verify your US phone number with Hangouts before leaving the US one time - after that it will work on WiFi or without any SIM, etc.
I used my iPhone on the Roam Like Home plan with my home cell network in Poland, and it worked great. No problems in accessing either calls or data.
I am writing this in Athens on my IPad with no SIM, just the hotel’s wi-fi. I also have my IPhone with me, again no SIM or special roaming package, and can text and mail, but my phone doesn’t work....imagine it is much the same in Poland. I was offered a SIM card For 15€ for use in Greece and presumably across the EU. Decided that it was totally unnecessary for my needs on this trip.
If you only want to use Wi-Fi, you need do nothing; your iPhone and iPad will work on Wi-Fi in Poland the same as anywhere else.
If you are willing to use one of Verizon's roaming plans (either their $40 per month plan, or their more extensive $10 on the days you use it plan), you just sign up for one of these before leaving home, and you're set. Just understand what is and is not covered by the plan before you sign up.
If you want more usage than the $40 plan covers, and don't want to pay $10 a day for the same usage you have at home, you can buy a Polish SIM. Of course Verizon is mute on this subject - they want you paying Verizon, not a Polish cell provider! If you want to investigate deals available in Poland, you can look at the Prepaid GSM website. Be aware that they can get very technical - don't be afraid to ask for clarification. Their page of Polish cell carriers is here: http://www.prepaidgsm.net/en/poland.php
and their forum covering Poland is here: http://www.prepaidgsm.net/forum/forumdisplay.php?s=4103fa133650605ba6f405546ef510be&f=22
Thank you to all who responded. I decided to get the $10/day plan with Verizon for the days we are in Poland, mostly because we will be driving for a few days and want to be able to call for help if needed. I will keep the iPad on wifi only.