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How Can I Get Mobile Internet Access While on Europe 21 Day Tour?

What is the best way for me to get mobile wifi internet access while I am on the Europe 21 day tour? I want to be able to look up places to go and see, etc. while walking around the various towns.

I've read that you can swap a SIM card in your phone, but my mobile phone does not allow that.

I also read about mobile wifi hotspot devices you can rent and take with you for $10-15 per day. That seems like a lot to me, plus a lot of the companies I found have bad reviews. Can't seem to find a reliable company.

Others have said that free wifi is everywhere in Europe. But, is it really everywhere that we are going on the trip? I see that there are free wifi finder apps you can download (i have android) but do they work in Europe?

Can someone recommend to me the best way to get mobile wifi while I am on the tour at the cheapest rate, and best reliability?


Posted by
16883 posts

Wi-Fi is standard and often free in hotels on this tour, so you shouldn't need a mobile hotspot. Occasionally, you won't have a good signal in all rooms, but will in the lobby. It's also not unusual at libraries and coffee shops, as here.

Posted by
9363 posts

Any kind of mobile wifi access will be costly. Better to stick with using your phone with airplane mode on and wifi on, and just use the free signal at your hotel (or a free or low-cost signal at a restaurant). You could do your research on what to see and do at the hotel at night. You really don't need to be connected all of the time. Wifi finder apps do work in Europe, just like here, but your phone itself will tell you when you are in range of a signal.

Posted by
914 posts

Just be! I'm pretty sure you'll get a guidebook with your trip packet. Look up stuff and print out info sheets before you leave home. I realize we all travel differently and I'll admit I enjoy getting away from technology while I'm overseas. Maybe you love being plugged in. But also enjoy just being there and stumbling across/into places, restaurants, etc.

Posted by
31471 posts

It would help to know which U.S. cell carrier you're with and whether your phone is a quad-band GSM model? Roaming with your home network may be one possibility. Also, are you planning to use the phone for calls or text while you're there?

The bottom line is that if you want access to cellular data there will be a cost for the convenience. If you limit use to Wi-Fi areas only, the cost will be much less.

Posted by
1994 posts

Check w your mobile provider. I have Verizon. Using their international plan, $50 worth of data was plenty for a 3.5-week trip in Italy. I used wifi when available, but it was good to also have cellular access to internet.

Posted by
11288 posts

Remember, you're going on a guided tour. You are paying for the services of a tour guide, who can and will give you LOTS of information. So, you won't be constantly needing to look stuff up. And for your free time, you will not only have the tour guide to give you help, you will also have Rick's book. By all accounts, the RS guides take this part of the job very enthusiastically; they really want you to enjoy your free time, and they don't just give vague suggestions, but lots of details, as long as you ask.

So, you won't NEED Internet while you're out and about, the way an independent traveler might.

As everyone else has said, if you really want to have Internet access wherever you go, it's going to cost you. If you do want more than just WiFi, we need to know, as Ken said, what is your current carrier and exact phone model. If your phone will work in Europe, the US carriers have lowered their prices for data roaming, so using a small amount won't break the bank, as Sherry said. But larger amounts add up.

Posted by
1 posts

Be careful about "free wifi" for identity theft/security reasons. This is a bigger problem than most people realize.

Will you have a pad? Or just a phone? Do you need the phone for calls only?

We just completed a 6 week trip to Italy, and wound up buying a SIM card (Windstar maybe??) for both our pad and 1 cell phone. And then one internationally enabled (ie roaming? On Verizon) cell phone for that we turned on once a day or so. The SiIM cards ran about $50/month for large data plan, but you couldn't buy partial month, had to sign up for a month to month plan---although we negotiated thru weak Italian, maybe there is a better way. Your phone number changes with a SIM card, but all your data connections magically remain. So the SIM works more for data, outgoing calls, and checking vm associated with your US number. The purchase of the SIM cards took about 20 minutes even thru language barriers, pretty routine. I should say we did not use any video. No reliability issues either.

The pad more than paid for itself in free audioguides, elimination of 4lbs of books, maps, confirmations, restaurant reviews, elimination of camera gear, etc. We were able to send digital postcards throughout too. A whole other layer of travel pleasure! I cannot imagine traveling without it now even tho I am Old School.

At a minimum, take an internationally enabled cell. My husband and I were in Egypt on holiday during the revolution. The ability to text internationally got us out, as the govt shut down all domestic cell calls and email. But we faced $600 bill when we got back. We would have been in a World of Hurt without that cell.... You just never know what can happen.

Posted by
4933 posts

T-Mobile US customers who are signed up to the "Simple Choice" plan get FREE 2G roaming data in most European countries. I used it in Germany a few months ago, and though it was usually slow, it worked beautifully nearly everywhere, including on buses and trains.

Posted by
823 posts

When traveling in Italy (Florence, Verona, Vicenza, Padova and Venice), one needed to SMS text to the local free municipal WIFI provider to get access codes. The Italians don’t allow anonymous WIFI access - it’s all part of their anti-terrorism laws. So, get a local phone…

Another good reason to have a local phone – texting for cabs and buses. All of the cab companies we encountered preferred summoning cabs via text message than via phone calls. No problems with English language texts… Also, some of the cities have reduced late-evening bus service replacing it with a demand-based system. After 2100 hours, you text your bus stop number, bus ticket number and the number of passengers at the stop and they send a bus or a taxi to transport you.

I would suggest buying a cheap unlocked quad-band GSM smart phone before you depart. It’s easy enough to buy a cheap pay-as-you-go SIM in each country you visit.