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As if you are talking to a three year old..

Hi.. well the unthinkable has happened.. I got an iPhone 6.. I was happy with a very simple phone ( a Samsung) and have never bothered to travel with it.. however.. my daughter is leaving for a 2 month backpacking trip through Europe.. and shes only 19.. so she actually talked me into getting the iPhone.

She said it would be the easiest and cheapest way to keep in touch.. as she has an iPhone and we can txt or message back and forth easily.

I literally got the phone only 2 days ago and can barely use it yet.. lol

So.. I am trying to understand some things.

Do I need to unlock it.. and what does that entail. ?

Do I need a new sim card.. she is travelling to many different countries.. and we will be in Europe a month from now.. and will also be visiting 5 different countries ( so not too keen on having to buy a new card for each country?)

If I turn off all data can I still send and receive txts..( with wifi)

I guess I have a fear of arriving home to some 1000 dollar bill!

I do not need to be in constant contact with dd. And my hubby and other daughter and her boyfriend are not bringing phones, so this is only about keeping track of dd on her own.. not communicating with my travelling group.


and btw .. the title is to explain that your answers must be super simple.

PS.. I have one Gigabyte on my plan.. does that affect anything.

Posted by
9567 posts

What you can do with your phone depends on your carrier. The phone itself is actually very simple. I am a technophobe and have no problem with my iPhone 6s. I'm leaving in 2 weeks for Italy. The first of 4 countries I will be in. I'm using my phone as is. It will have to be unlocked by your carrier if you plan on new SIM cards in each country. That is a pain, as you need to understand the prompts in each language you are dealing with. Been there, done that with a dumb phone. Check with your carrier about international use.

I have T-Mobile. They allow international texting and use of your data at no additional charge. Calls are $.20 per minute. I will be in Italy for 3 weeks before joining my husband in Prague. We will be able to stay in touch by email, texting and FaceTime.

Posted by
2020 posts

Don't bother with unlocking or SIM cards. All I do with my IPhone is put it in airplane mode when I get on my first plane, and leave it there until I'm back home again. Look for the little airplane at the top of the screen occasionally to verify that airplane mode is still on.

Then I turn wifi on. Now I can text other iPhones (free) when I have wifi. So that should be all you & your daughter need.

If you have an Apple Store near you, I'd recommend signing up for a free class in how to use your phone. Or even a free one-on-one class at the Genius Bar (yep, that's what they call it) focusing on how to use the phone for travel. I took a class & found it very useful.

Posted by
2216 posts

I absolutely understand that "3 yr old" part, Pat and I was just about to reply almost exactly what Charlene did. I also avail myself of the geniuses at the local Apple store. They are truly helpful and their advice has been spot on. I have T-Mobile and their Simple Choice plan works exactly as data and texting, $.20 phone calls. I've used that plan the past 3 or so years of traveling in Europe and it's always worked as advertised.

Posted by
920 posts

I usually just put the phone in airplane mode, turn off cellular data and use wifi when I arrive in Europe. Most of the folks I would need to talk to are with me, so phone calls aren't a big deal. I also have Verizon and they have international plans that allows you to use your existing plan minutes, texts and data. It cost $10 per day (and they only charge you for days you use it) in most of Europe and you don't need a different SIM card. Check with your provider and you may find that they have a similar plan. If they do have such a plan, I would still turn cellular data off until you want to use it and then turn it back off. To do this on your iPhone, you select "Settings" then "cellular" and then click "cellular data" button to turn it off. One other setting you might not be aware of is at the bottom of that same screen. It's called "wifi assist". You might want to disable this (permanently) so that it doesn't use cellular data when wifi is weak. And yes, if you turn off cellular data you can still message using wifi.

Another option is for your family to install WhatsApp in each phone. It allows you to call and send messages for free via wifi. You just need to make sure that you are in airplane mode with wifi enabled on your phone to ensure that it doesn't use cellular data. It wouldn't hurt to turn cellular data and cellular data roaming off as well.

Posted by
2443 posts

I'll leave the rest of the explaining to the others, will just add that the best part of both of you having iphones is the ability to send IMs (instant messages) through the text area, ordinary texts (that are part of any paid plan) show up in green, but messages between you and your daughter (or other iphone users) are in blue, and don't cost anything.

When I travel I get a plan that allows a certain number of texts for a set price, like $10 for 50. But my best friend and I can communicate freely since we both have iphones.

Just be careful about using data internationally without Wi-Fi, you could indeed run up a big bill. Again, I buy a small plan for data in case I am out and about and need to check something immediately. I call my provider, ATT, a couple of weeks before I go and set up my international plan--texts, just-in-case data and calling, because I travel solo and have elderly parents who need to hear from me. Usually costs maybe $60 extra, plus any extra calling on a per minute basis.

Posted by
437 posts

I hope your provider is TMobile. In that case, you just use the phone in Europe. I used it with data and texts to my daughters for 3.5 weeks and my bill did not change.

You do not need wifi to send a text. But wifi affects the cost of each message, if you are not on TMobile where texting is free. Calling works too but is $1 per minute which adds up quickly.

For either Verizon and ATT, you need to call and sign up for an international plan. And airplane mode becomes important. Easy to learn to turn on/off, before you go.

Changing SIM cards changes your phone number. Each SIM card only works in one country. That does not seem to be a reasonable solution when visiting five countries. With TMobile, I sometimes had to turn the phone off/on to connect after driving into a new country.

Enjoy the trip!

Posted by
11494 posts

Thanks for all the posts, i underdtood most of them!

I am on Telus, which is where i got my phone.

No Apple stores on my island at all. Bummer as those free lessons would be handy.

Posted by
31824 posts


I'm a bit late getting into the discussion, but I'll provide a few thoughts anyway.....

  • NO, you don't need to unlock the phone, and in fact that probably won't be possible. As you got the phone from Telus, it's probably on a contract, with the cost of the hardware subsidized over the term of the contract. If they're anything like Rogers, that means you won't be able to get it unlocked until the hardware is paid off. Unlocking usually entails just entering a code (according to an Apple representative I spoke with recently). Unlocking is only a concern if you wanted to install SIM cards other than those of Telus. If you're going to be using a Telus travel roaming plan, then there's absolutely no need to worry about unlocking. I'm not sure whether these rates are still current, but THIS WEBSITE provides an idea of the costs. The Telus rep. will be able to provide all the information.
  • NO, you don't need a new SIM card. Talk to Telus about their travel roaming plans, as that will be the easiest option. Keep in mind that every time you change SIM cards, your phone number changes as well as your terms of service and costs. Very cumbersome and awkward for your DD to know which number to reach you at any given time. With a Telus roaming plan, you can go from one country to another and keep the same number.
  • One minor issue in travelling with your mobile phone and regular number, is that you'll still be able to receive calls from anyone in your home area. The cellular network will find you, wherever you are. Even if you tell all your contacts NOT to call you during your trip, it's almost inevitable that some moron will call without checking the time difference, and wake you up in the wee hours of the morning. If you're using the roaming plan the cost of the incoming call should be covered up to the limit of the plan you purchased, but it's still annoying to be awakened for trivial rubbish.
  • YES, you should still be able to turn "off" cellular data and send and receive texts. One question - are you planning to use the text app provided with the phone, or another app such as Viber? I've found that in some cases, sending or receiving texts is only possible when internet service is available, whether by Wi-Fi or cellular data. I haven't quite figured out why this occurs, but hope to pin it down on my next trip.
  • Even for use at home, it's a good idea to go into the settings and configure which app's are "allowed" to use cellular data. Click on "Settings", then "Cellular" and scroll down to the section "Use Cellular Data For". Turn "off" any app's which you don't want to use cellular data (these will then only work in Wi-Fi areas). This is important as some app's work "in the background", which can not only put your monthly data over the limit, but also deplete your battery faster.
  • It's a good idea to program your DD's phone number in your Contacts list using the prefix "+1" (and she should also do the same with your number). Should you ever need to call each other, you will actually be calling your home number, and the network will bounce the call back to wherever you are. That means that both the calling party and receiving party will be using a portion of their "minutes" allowance on whichever plan they purchased.
  • For a brief tutorial on how to use your phone, one of the iPad seminars offered by Simply Computing may help. They're located at 2000 Cadboro Bay Road. I don't believe they have training on iPhones, but they know Apple equipment, so may have some suggestions. London Drugs is another resource you could try.

I don't know if these comments are simple enough for a three year old, but I tried to keep them simple. I also use an iPhone so am quite familiar with them.

Bonne chance et bon voyage!

Posted by
9567 posts

"One minor issue in travelling with your mobile phone and regular number, is that you'll still be able to receive calls from anyone in your home area. The cellular network will find you, wherever you are. Even if you tell all your contacts NOT to call you during your trip, it's almost inevitable that some moron will call without checking the time difference, and wake you up in the wee hours of the morning. If you're using the roaming plan the cost of the incoming call should be covered up to the limit of the plan you purchased, but it's still annoying to be awakened for trivial rubbish."

Under settings you can select Do Not Disturb. You can then select numbers that are okay to call you, but other calls won't come through.

Posted by
31824 posts


Good point. It was late when I posted my last reply, and I wasn't focusing too well.

Posted by
823 posts

Just to confuse matters more...

It has been reported that all iPhone 6's are factory unlocked - at least the Sprint and Verizon varieties. They will accept a GSM SIM which temporarily disables the Verizon or Sprint capability until the GSM SIM is removed.

I have also read that AT&T and T-Mobile iPhones are also semi-unlocked and will accept a "foreign" (but not domestic) SIM for use overseas.

My iPhone 6 is factory unlocked and works like a charm in Europe. Just pop into a local cell phone store and purchase a pay as you go SIM card.

If you are a T-Mobile or AT&T customer, just take a paper clip (to open the SIM slot) and a small plastic case (SD-Card type) with you to store your "home" SIM card safely until you return home.

Other observations about iPhones...

The iMessage feature will work over WIFI while normal SMS texting will not. (iMessage streams are shaded blue while SMS streams are shaded green. And, iMessaging only works will all people on the "to" line have iPhones - you can't mix iMessage and SMS texting on the same addressee list.)

Facetime worked a lot better in low-bandwidth situations than Skype.

Posted by
352 posts

I really thought this was going to be about language skills. I often joke that my husband and I can only speak Italian at a toddler level.

Posted by
8626 posts

I love this - two of my favorite Canadians from the Forum here, one posing a question in her inimitable way and the other providing the type of thoughtful, detailed response that he always does. These are the reasons I love "hanging around" here!!

Posted by
1262 posts

Pat, There is an app called WhatsApp that will allow you to make calls and send texts over WiFi. You both have to have the app loaded on you phones.

Posted by
11494 posts

Hello all, i am am checking in from Mallorca, on tablet not phone , its charging!

So phone is working out pretty well. My dd and i have been able to keep in touch easily( when we both have wifi) and i love takin g sending and posting my photos.

Unfortunately found out about a friends sons death, and was trying to contact several folks back home was a bit frustrating , those with out iphones or messenger or fb!

I do admit i found the iphone convenenit but it does add a layer of stress i have never had before. This phone is an expensive item , and i find myself a bit paranoid about it. I feel its more attractive to theives then my old point and shoot camera....and of course it is preciuos to me because of the photos. Now, i know someone will mention the cloud, but i havent done that yet , thats my next learning curve.

Posted by
2526 posts

Facetime monthly meetings, including smartphone tips, for those of us in the hinterlands instead of Panera Bread, the nearest being 250+ miles away?