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Is this how to save money despite having Verizon?

We normally go to Italy for a month and get an Italian SIM card. Easy, simple, always works well for us.

For our next trip, we will spend our first 4 ½ days in Amsterdam before we go to Italy, so that will complicate things. After looking at the various options, here's our plan for using Verizon International Pay-as-you-go.

It all seems like a bit of a pain in the neck, but Verizon's other plan, the $10-a-day plan, could cost us up to $100 for our two phones, is that correct? (We sadly had to switch from T-Mobile in order to get cell service at our cabin.) I do understand that the $10 only kicks in when you make or receive a call or use data.

For our 4 ½ days in Amsterdam, we will:

  1. turn on Verizon International Pay-as-you-go
  2. put our iPhones in airplane mode but with wifi turned back on
  3. text each other using iMessage with a wifi connection and try never to turn off airplane mode in order to phone each other
  4. use Google Maps we have downloaded already at home
  5. stop all apps from refreshing themselves and put emails on fetch only
  6. only use the internet when we have wifi
  7. we will not phone local businesses or restaurants or our B&B hosts because that would be an international call
  8. call my father-in-law every day using Skype only
  9. stay together much more than we do in Italy so as to minimize the chances of our having to phone each other or to text without wifi
  10. our family and friends will know our travel dates (and even at home usually email or text us)

Anything I'm missing?

Here's the two things I don't quite get, even after searching Verizon's website and this travel forum:

  1. My father-in-law in assisted living calls my husband 3 to 12 times a day and leaves long voicemail messages if my husband doesn't answer the phone. He will not remember not to call and will not understand a large posted note such as "Call Jim or Frank, not Ken" or "Do not call Ken."

So, if my husband ever does take his phone out of airplane mode briefly (which we plan NOT to do), will all these calls and voicemail messages become calls we pay for, even if he doesn't listen to the voicemails?

  1. I get frequent robocalls on my iPhone because I am using our old landline number. If I leave airplane mode even briefly, will all these calls count as received calls even if I delete them all immediately?
Posted by
1036 posts

If you have been happy using an Italian SIM (i.e. no US phone number) why not get a Dutch SIM card in Amsterdam? The EU has had a no cost roaming rule since 2017. So the Dutch SIM should provide you with service in Italy. If you’re on an extended trip or heavy data user then you may need to top up your plan or get a new Italian SIM .

Posted by
11158 posts

You could get a Netherlands SIM. Depending on its terms, you could either keep it in Italy, or just buy a new on in Italy. Even if you throw it away after 4.5 days, it's still likely to be cheaper than the Verizon plan.

The only catch is that this means having a Netherlands phone number for part of your trip, and an Italian number for the rest of the trip.

Edit: cross posting with Rocket, who I see had the same idea!

Posted by
573 posts

Like, get a month's Vodafone plan in Amsterdam but actually use it in Italy for all but 4 days? I guess we weren't sure what might be the consequences of doing that while traveling in Italy.

For instance, will our apartment hosts, language tutors, friends, etc in Italy with Italian phone numbers have to call and text a Dutch number to reach us and have to pay extra charges?

We do use quite a bit of data, but haven't yet had to top up using the Tre and TIM tourist plans we buy in Italy.

I just now went to the Dutch Vodafone website and it's a little difficult to tell what a month's plan for the two of us (two different phone numbers) would cost, but perhaps this is a good way to go. It would be nice not to have to monkey around with airplane mode and all that.

Thanks for the suggestion --- I'd thought of it but not really explored the idea.

Posted by
1036 posts

You can use google chrome to translate foreign websites.

Here’s the current Vodafone NL. Prepaid offers. 30 day plans

  • 500 MB for €5
  • 2 GB for €9
  • 4 GB for €14
  • 6GB for €19
  • 10 GB for €29

Also a 7 day plan 2GB for €7.

If your Italian contacts are on WhatsApp that may be an option for calling and texting.

Posted by
573 posts

Yes, the Vodafone website was in translation, but in English "monthly" means a different thing than "for one month." So I wasn't sure if this was a special short-term deal for tourists. But it sounds as though you're saying their "pre-paid bundle" is pretty much the same as the TIM Tourist one-month package 15GB that we have gotten in Italy for 30 euro each. Five fewer GB, but about the same.

What we'll do is visit the Vodafone shop that is 5 blocks from our Amsterdam B&B and talk with the person there and almost certainly get the two Vodafone Dutch SIM cards.

Thank you so much for helping me think this through. It will be nice to suspend our Verizon for a month rather than trying to work around it.

Posted by
11158 posts

"For instance, will our apartment hosts, language tutors, friends, etc in Italy with Italian phone numbers have to call and text a Dutch number to reach us and have to pay extra charges?"

Yes, they will have to call or text your Dutch number. But they won't pay extra charges, for the same reason you won't. There are no longer any roaming charges within the EU, so they won't mind contacting a Dutch number from their Italian phones.

Posted by
4695 posts

I've used my Dutch Vodafone SIM on my last three trips to Europe - in Slovenia, Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal (never in the Netherlands yet - I bought my SIM on eBay). It's worked great - one SIM for all EU countries (plus Switzerland).

However...you'll have a Dutch phone number while the SIM is in place. And the Dutch Vodafone SIM doesn't have great calling options. It is great for data. You can get 10GB of data for 29 Euros for a month.

Most practical calling solution while in Europe: Sign up for Skype and buy a Skype phone number ($6.50/month plus taxes). You get free unlimited inbound calls (will use mobile data if you aren't on WiFI). Your father-in-law can call your Skype phone number from his landline...or you can forward you Verizon number to the Skype number while you are gone so he can call the Verizon number and not know the difference. (Skype has voicemail too I think - I had a Skype number once upon a time, don't remember now.) You can also make unlimited calls for $2.99/month to US numbers. So for about $10 for a month, you'd be all set for US calling plus with the Dutch number for about 30 euros on top of that. Not expensive for a month!

Posted by
788 posts

Oh my gosh. This topic always makes my head spin. So glad I took my tech friends advice and have google fi. I don't worry one bit about sim cards or plans and it has always worked overseas. So far in Wales, England, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and the Czech Republic. I know he's used it in Serbia and China. I'll be testing it out in April in Turkey. If you travel a lot I recommend switching to Google if you can to avoid this headache.

Posted by
4695 posts

This "topic" (SIM cards for international travel) is about saving money. Some people don't mind spending a few hundred bucks extra for phone service. If that's you, no point in even reading these SIM threads. We all have different preferences.

Google Fi is fine. But it would more than double my annual cell phone costs at home, though, which is why I use something cheaper and just use a Vodafone SIM when I go to Europe. I'm all about saving a few hundred bucks when I can, for a little bit of inconvenience (which I've long since figured out). Some people don't care about saving the money.

Google FI may not work for the OP, though (needs Verizon at home to get cell service; Google uses T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular mobile networks.)

Posted by
17 posts

AndrewH:

You like the Vodaphone NL but when I look on ebay, I mostly find Vodaphone UK. Do you know of any significant difference? I've used GiffGaff in the UK and have a freebie SIM which I think will be good for a couple weeks. I ordered a Vodaphone UK SIM since it was only a $3 or so. I think the UK SIMs ought to work, at least until Brexit.

Posted by
4695 posts

You like the Vodaphone NL but when I look on ebay, I mostly find Vodaphone UK. Do you know of any significant difference?

Yes, there is a difference. One is that you can't top-up the UK version directly with a US credit card on Vodafone's UK website (you can with the NL version). You probably have to use Paypal. Another poster has recently purchased the UK Vodafone SIM and managed to add some credit with Paypal and will report back to us in October about how it worked out on her trip.

Technically, Vodafone UK and Vodafone NL are different companies - both owned by the same parent. They may have different policies.

Buying the Dutch Vodafone SIM online used to be cheaper - $8 USD shipped via eBay - but the old suppliers seem to have gone away. Now I see a few for about $20 USD including international shipping, but I can't vouch for any of them. There is a place selling a UK Vodafone SIM for only $4 USD shipped (a US supplier so quick shipping) so not much to lose in trying that one out.

FYI, the GiffGaff SIM in theory will support EU roaming but only if activated and used in the UK for a time first. Based on reports we have heard...

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks AndrewH. Good to know about top ups needing Paypal. I'll give it a whirl. I always have Verizon at $10 a day as a back up.

Posted by
4695 posts

Yeah, $4 for a SIM isn't much to lose. That was my philosophy when I invested $8 in the NL Vodafone SIM a few years ago - and now I've used it for three trips in a row. (Hint: if the UK Vodafone SIM works out for you, and you want to use it again someday, it will stay active for six months from last activity. Just like the NL Vodafone SIM. You can add credit, send a text, etc. to keep it active. I send myself a reminder on my calendar every six months to send a text with my remaining credit to keep my SIM alive.)

Keep in mind that occasionally, some phones still need to have the APN (Access Point Name) set to use data with a different SIM. I've never needed to do that, but some people have. Setting the APN may be unintuitive - but if you dig up specific instructions for your exact phone, it should be pretty easy. For the Vodafone UK SIM, the APN setting is just pp.vodafone.co.uk . Some phones will set it automatically.