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Google Maps + Data Plan is the way to go!

We have Verizon and were able to add international service to our plan for $10 per day per phone. That coupled with google maps' mass transit option got us around Switzerland and Germany for 3 weeks where we were taking everything from cable cars to ferries. It just worked and was a life saver as we were sort of freestyling it.

Posted by
4690 posts

I completely agree about Google Maps with data. I too have found it indispensable when getting around in European cities by public transportation and on foot.

But $10/day is much too expensive for me. Buying a SIM card would be much cheaper.

Posted by
23 posts

I should have mentioned we are still both working so we needed to have our domestic phone numbers work, etc. This plan worked well for that, but yes, at $210 each for 23 days it isn't cheap.

Posted by
3954 posts

Why not simply set up call forwarding from your existing phone to the new phone number? Certainly saves over $200!

Posted by
23 posts

We tried that on our second to last trip in Greece with an Orange (French) sim card. It did not work so well and we kept missing important calls from our tour guides and such. Another side effect of those sim cards is I kept getting calls (in French) for whomever had my temporary number before me. We're talking 5 or 6 calls a day, and often very late at night when I was sleeping. It became a problem very quickly.

For us, $10 a day is worth the convenience of "just turning the phone on and going" (not to mention we can expense 1/2 of the cost through our company).

Posted by
4690 posts

Why not simply set up call forwarding from your existing phone to the new phone number? Certainly saves over $200!

Probably can't forward calls from Verizon to a European SIM phone number.

It would be possible to get a Google Voice number (US phone number), forward Verizon calls to it while traveling, and answer calls with Google Hangouts. But that won't work for incoming text messages. Could they be answered on WiFi with WiFi Calling? Maybe. Even then calls made from Google Hangouts won't show as coming from the Verizon number, so some people may not answer them.

But paying the $200 for Verizon probably makes sense if you are traveling and still need to be reached regularly, by voice or text, for business. And you aren't saving $200 - the SIM itself still costs something.

Posted by
4690 posts

We tried that on our second to last trip in Greece with an Orange (French) sim card. It did not work so well and we kept missing important calls from our tour guides and such.

That sounds like an "Orange SIM problem" not a "European SIM problem." Verizon of course has no service at all in Europe - when you use your Verizon phone there you are roaming on one of their partner networks. Orange France is doing the same thing in Greece. So you are not getting "better reception" with Verizon. Verizon's roaming partner in Greece may have better coverage than Orange's roaming partner there. Or...if you never used your Verizon phone there, you may have had the same problem with reception.

Another side effect of those sim cards is I kept getting calls (in French) for whomever had my temporary number before me. We're talking 5 or 6 calls a day, and often very late at night when I was sleeping. It became a problem very quickly.

Well, that's true - certainly could happen, even though it's never happened to me with my Dutch Vodafone SIM I've used for my last two trips. I do turn my phone off at night, though.

Posted by
23 posts

Indeed. The Orange sim card was something like $75ea for 4GB of data and unlimited phone/text. So the net difference isn't much, and using the Verizon Passport plan let's us carry our unlimited data and calling/texting with us. It really did work flawlessly and we did not have to fuss around with managing data limits, etc. I guess price is subjective but it seems totally worth it for our needs.

Posted by
4690 posts

Not sure when you bought those Orange SIMs, but prices have declined I think and data limits increased. My Dutch Vodafone SIM cost me all of 10 euros in May for 2GB of data (good for a month) for my ten day trip to Portugal. 2GB was more than enough for me (I used under 1GB, and I used Google Maps constantly, just like you did). But I use my Google Voice number as my primary phone number at home anyway, so I got my calls and texts for free with Hangouts on my regular number, even when overseas.

Posted by
30973 posts

I've also been using data roaming with my home cell network and while the cost is higher, it really works well. I've tried using other SIM's and call forwarding in the past, but found it to be somewhat awkward and it didn't always work well. A few hundred dollars in the overall cost of a month long European trip is not really a problem.