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options for smart phone in Italy

We will be in Italy for 3 1/2 weeks while son is in US and daughter in China. Would like to be able to connect with both from time to time via WeChat or Skype. I read through comments posted last year about Italian SIM or Verizon Travel Pass and only became more confused. I welcome thoughts and suggestions about best options.

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What kind of phone do you have now? Smart phone right? What service do you have?

You can use Skype or WhatsApp or other services like that even without a SIM card or Verizon service (you have Verizon?). You can just use WiFi if you want, at your hotel or at a restaurant with WiFi or something. Of course, you'd not be able to receive any calls from your kids unless you are on WiFi. You would get messages later and you could message/call them back when you got back to the hotel and had WiFI.

If you want to be able to communicate with your kids at random no matter where you are, on WiFi or not, then you need either a SIM card or something like Verizon's travel pass (assuming you have Verizon service now). The downside of Verizon is that it's expensive. Upside is that it's easy, and you keep your same phone number so you can make/receive any calls you normally would.

Getting an Italian SIM card is a little more complicated but it would be a lot cheaper than using the Verizon option. The biggest downside is, you wouldn't have your Verizon number while you are in Italy - can't make/receive calls or texts with it. But your kids wouldn't be using it - they'd be using Skype or WhatsApp or Whatever instead. The Italian SIM would give you an internet connection - that's all you need for Skype et all. And you can still use WiFi when you get back to the hotel.

Verizon has historically not locked their phones - meaning, you can put any SIM you want into the phone without restriction. But very recently they started locking their new phones for 60 days after activation. So...if you have buy a shiny new phone from Verizon less than 60 days before you get to Italy, you may not be able to buy and use an Italian SIM. But if your phone is more than 60 days old when you land in Italy, should be fine. Just go to a TIM or Vodafone mobile store (go to an official store like a Verizon store, not some "mobile store") and have them set you up with a SIM card. Keep your Verizon SIM card safe - it's tiny. Let them show you how to put it back into your phone when you leave Italy. Make sure the phone works before you leave their store.

Take your passport with you to the TIM or Vodafone store - you need to show ID in Italy to buy a SIM.

Test out Skype or Whatsapp before you leave for Italy - make sure you know how to use it to communicate with your kids. Once you get a SIM card, should work exactly the same way in Italy.