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No service with Verizon pre-paid

I know...I know...this is sorta pathetic, but...I just got a smarty-pants phone after 15 years with my trusty flip phone. I signed up for a Verizon pre-paid plan. Now I find out that they don't offer any International service with pre-paid! My question, dear tech-savvy folks out there...Will I be able to use Wi Fi in London for map apps/directions? The phone is locked, so changing the SIM card is not a viable option.

I don't have any sensitive info/data on the phone (banking, etc.)...

Thanks!

Posted by
1558 posts

If you can access WiFi at home then you should not have a problem in Europe.

Posted by
138 posts

We used Apple maps for directions in both Ireland and France with ease. We did try Google maps but found them to be rather unreliable, especially in Cork where Google kept us driving in circles. Apple got us unlost easily. We have an unlimited data plan while in Europe with T-Mobile. Check with Verizon to find out data usage in Europe.

Posted by
4264 posts

I like the app, maps.me. I download the app and the maps for the country I'm visiting when I'm at home or when I have wifi. The phone app works without wifi or data, quite similar to GPS. I would give it some practice before leaving home.

I was one of the last of my friends/family to get a "smarty-pants" phone. Its now pretty much an antique. I still works great, and I've come to love it.

Have fun.

Posted by
21080 posts

I made four trips to Europe with pre-paid T-Mobile service, meaning no access to T-Mobile's great deal for travelers. I feel your pain. I finally converted to a regular plan this year, and I loved being able to web-surf during long bus and train rides.

During the four previous trips I used a mapping app (CityMaps2GoPro) that allowed me to download a city or country map via Wi-Fi and keep it available on my phone. Not having to check every morning to be sure the map was there was convenient, but the database wasn't robust, and I'm sure there are better options. I never looked to see whether that apo would provide turn-by turn directions. I just followed the You Are Here dot to be sure I was headed in the right direction. I don't rent cars in Europe, so Iblvwas walking rather than driving.

There are other apps that work in a similar way, probably with more complete databases of street names and sights.

Or you can use Google Maps offline or Google's MyMaps, my current preference. Those two require some up-front work by you, again while you have Wi-Fi access. But the initial set-up can be done on a regular computer, which for me is preferable to flagging sightseeing targets on a phone or tablet screen.

In all cases you should be OK once you have used Wi-Fi to download the maps and pinpointed your places of interest, but that was not my actual experience with MyMaps. I frequently had to re-download the map I was using every morning, and it sometmes took a long time (over 10 minutes). I have no idea whether that was due to hotel Wi-Fi shortcomings or issues with the Google server. Sometimes the download hung up for a long time with none of my places shown, and twice I initially had just my colored dots with no underlying map at all. It is because of experiences like that that my first or second stop in each city continues to be the tourist office, to get a paper map.

While your base map and any flagged sights will normally be available as you walk around, you may not be able to use the map's search function to find new places when you aren't in an area with Wi-Fi. I think some mapping tools are better about this than others. An app that resides on your phone like CityMaps2GoPro should provide look-up functions without Wi-Fi access, but it will only be as good as the underlying database (which I found to be rather limited).

Posted by
11257 posts

Simple answer...yes, you can use wifi when available. It does not require a Sim card. However, no cellular data will be available.

Posted by
33 posts

Thank you, everyone, for the good advice and info. I think I'm all set now! And NO, I won't give Verizon more money...their tactic to aggravate me into a more expensive plan will not work! I don't want to spend my travel time with my head in my phone...I'll be looking around and being in the moment, thank you very much.

Posted by
1103 posts

I suggest that you also download the free app "WhatsApp". It allows you to call and text other people FREE whenever you are on wifi. It is used a LOT by many Europeans, and is how B&B owners, tour leaders, etc., prefer to communicate with me when I'm in Italy. It is also (I understand) easily used in Britain, too. The only caveat is that whoever you are calling/texting needs to also have it downloaded onto their phone. So, get your beloveds at home to download it onto their phones before you leave, and then practice calling and texting each other (when you are both in wifi range) while you're still at home. Free phone calls and texts from abroad! What's not to love?

Posted by
3192 posts

For future reference, my family switched from Verizon plan to T-mobile plan and not only is it seamless in Europe, but our 20-something daughter says it works much better at home too.

Posted by
4933 posts

Yeah, the newer Verizon prepaid phones are locked and hard to unlock. I bought one last year and used an advertised trick to unlock it so I could use a different SIM in it. (But your phone is probably too new for that.)

If you use their service for a year, then I think they will unlock it, and you can move to a much cheaper service like Mint Mobile. (Has not-cheap international roaming, but you can buy a SIM once the phone is unlocked after the year.)

Otherwise, yes, WiFI will work fine even now. Install Google Voice on the phone so you can make free voice calls home (even to landlines) if you need to, while on WiFi.

Posted by
33 posts

Thanks for the Google voice tip! Thanks to everyone for all their good input...this community of travelers is so very, very helpful!

Posted by
4933 posts

Once you have the Google Voice app, change the setting in the app to "Prefer WiFi and mobile data" for calls. Try it out before you leave home (put your phone in airplane mode, then connect to WiFi). From Europe, make sure you add a +1 to the front of US numbers to call them (if they are in your contacts, they probably won't have the +1 on front). +1 is the international access code and the US is the 1. To get a + on your dial pad, hold down the 0 key.

Posted by
638 posts

Good advice. I just want to also recommend the maps.me app. Get it on your phone and before you leave home, download the maps where you plan to be traveling. You don't even need wifi to use those downloaded maps! Basically, as noted, your phone acts as a GPS unit. A few years ago we went to Havana, which is a dead zone for cell or wifi service unless you pay the government for their phones/SIM cards/wifi cards. I'd downloaded the Havana area map for my maps.me app on my phone. I had no wifi or cell service, and my phone worked brilliantly with the maps.me app and I became the group's navigator around Havana.

Posted by
33 posts

Great idea, Suz. Got it onto my phone and am liking it. Thanks again to all who posted! Tally ho!