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Canadian phone WhatsApp & Airailo app

Travelling to the UK and Europe from Canada and I want to use my cell phone.

I want to know if I can download these two apps (WhatsApp and Airailo ) to access inexpensive data. I’ve read that everyone uses WhatsApp and that Airailo is an e SIM card.

Does this work? Are there risks?

Posted by
30307 posts

I can't imagine any sort of risk using WhatsApp. I use it all day. Never an issue.. All the people you call or message also have to be running WhatsApp too. Available on iPhone and Android, and also available on Windows and Mac if there is a linked phone.

It is full of features, very easy to use, very reliable and end-to-end encrypted. What more could you want?

Posted by
171 posts

Don't you have friends with cell phones, I'll bet the majority of them use WhatsApp.

Posted by
1819 posts

I can't imagine any sort of risk using WhatsApp

For privacy reasons many of us don't believe that statement, hence we avoid any product or service that originates from Meta (Facebook) or Google.

Posted by
30307 posts

with Google searches at 92 percent world wide (and virtually zero in China) and 87 percent in the US, the "many" mentioned above is more like "some"

Posted by
2827 posts

Both of those together will work fine. Airalo provides the data that you need for all apps - WhatsApp, Google Maps, Weather, train schedules, or whatever. WhatsApp is a tool that works just fine, as long as the other party also has it (as mentioned, it’s very common).

A number of people on the forum use these tools when traveling. Others find different solutions - depending on their travel needs and current phone plans.

To use Airalo, an eSim, your phone must be unlocked. That’s the first step.

Posted by
367 posts

DS, I'm Canadian and just returned from London using the Airalo app. It worked seamlessly. Note you do not have a phone number when using Airalo - just data. That's why people suggest What's App as you can't text. I recommend, and will be using Airalo on my upcoming trip to Mexico.

Posted by
114 posts

Any reason not to use Messenger? It is a lot easier to set up in my experience, and you can text or video call if you want, as well as phone.

Also your provider might do WiFi calling, so you can call Canada for free, as long as you have a bit of data on your home plan. You just use your normal phone number, as you would at home, and you can call free, and take calls for free, from (and to) whatever country you are in (as long as your provider has it on the list of eligible places). Just another option. Must be on a "wired" wifi network, so not a hotspot from another phone.

Posted by
3328 posts

One advantage of WhatsApp is that it supports end-to-end encryption, unlikes SMS texting and Facebook Messenger. So it's more secure than those others, if that's a concern. Apple Messages supports it as well but unless you have SMS blocked, then your privacy is at issue with SMS texts. Keep in mind that WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, which is a dealbreaker for many people, as periscope noted.

There are other apps available for messaging like Signal, which was co-founded by a former WhatsApp founder. Signal also supports text messaging and voice, video and group calling. The disadvantage is that not many people use it, so you would have to make sure your contacts have the same app you choose to message them with. That's one of the biggest advantages with WhatsApp - many people in the US and lots of people in Europe use it.

And there are no risks with Airalo that I know of. I used it in Germany and found the app very helpful after I downloaded and activated the eSIM. It has a great Help Center - better than other eSIM companies I've looked at.

Posted by
3240 posts

Don't you have friends with cell phones, I'll bet the majority of them
use WhatsApp.

What an I missing? I know it's popular in Europe, but I know almost nobody that uses What's App.

Posted by
79 posts

In response to an earlier comment, all of my friends and coworkers in Canada and in the US have cell phones and none of them use WhatsApp.

The only friends I have that have used WhatsApp only use it for travel.

Sorry if this is a silly question…..
My understanding is that a person can use WhatsApp to make a call. Is that true? If so what phone number would I have as a user? If a BnB wanted my number for example.

Posted by
5487 posts

WhatsApp does not use phone numbers for actual calling - it's just to identify you.

Let's say your phone number is 111-222-3456. You set up WhatsApp and give that as your phone number, when you install the WhatsApp app on your phone. That is how people who want to call you can identify you - through your phone number (and your number may already be in their phone's contacts). But they don't call that phone number to call you with WhatsApp - they use the WhatsApp app instead. (You still need either WiFi or mobile data to make or receive calls.)

WhatsApp will also go through your contacts when you install it and find out which of them are already WhatsApp users, so you can call them with WhatsApp if you like,

Posted by
4344 posts

I started using WhatsApp when traveling to contact adult kids at home, and it continues to be our main form of communication...either by text or actual speach. VOIP? voice over internet? We all live is different cities and have iPhones or Android so it is the common app we can use. We can also make groups, so can share photos....which is my way to let them know Mom is alive and having a good time despite being half way around the world....and I only have to make one message to reach them all.
You can use video or non video calls.
It is also all encrypted.
A good feature is that if already set up on phone, if you change out your sim, it makes no difference. I was concerned about losing contacts, but it functioned the same in India as at home in Canada. So rather than flipping between sims or a dual sim, you can still message and speak with home despite a different phone number attributed to the local sim card.
My more frequent travel is not in Europe, but it was the common communicator in India and Costa Rica in the past 6 months. In India, the sim card guy sat beside me and typed into WhatsApp rather than try and deal with speaking or hearing and understanding English. Many businesses used it instead of email or voice phone there.
I communicated with guides in Costa Rica via WhatsApp. One in particular liked to use the vocal message leaving voice message directly on an account.
I was using text messaging within Airbnb with my host in Madrid in 2017 and he said it went through his WhatsApp account.
More and more often, you will see businesses (particularly small businesses or hotels) providing their Whatsapp account details in their Contact page.
It actually was a bit of a lifesaver, particularly in Costa Rica, as I couldn't get a sim card before I hit rural and small town areas, but I had ample access to wifi.
ESim is quite different, but I'll be on that wagon once I upgrade my phone to be compatible.