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SIM Card for 5s - 3 countries

Not a tech person, so help me understand the best thing to do: My daughter goes to Pisa Thursday for a month to work on a farm (tough life, huh?!). She will be in Italy for a month, then I am joining her for another week in Italy, Switzerland for a week, and France for a week. What is the best way for her to use her iPhone (and then me use mine when I get there) for those three countries for that length of time? I'm thinking local SIM cards, but I'm not sure if that is true, where to buy them, if we will need different ones for three countries and buy them when we get to that country, etc....thank you in advance for your help!!

Posted by
679 posts

Are the phones locked to a carrier?
If so will the carrier unlock them?
Do you want internet via cell network or just look for wifi spots?

Posted by
2081 posts


here are some ideas.

  1. Contact your local provider and see what options for International plans are available.

  2. If your phone is locked (ask your provider) then ask how much it will cost for unlocking it.

  3. since you will be traveling in 3 different countries, you can get 3 different SIMs. Or you can just get one and eat the cost of roaming. Depending on what you plan on doing, the roaming may not be that big a cost or it can. If you try to use wi-fi where available, it would limit your costs on the cellular. But the availability of wi-fi doesnt mean its accessible by you or its "free".

  4. you can look at those "world" SIMs cards and compare rates/fees/cost to your providers and the SIMS in europe.

  5. you may want to think about how you want to use your e toys so you can have a better idea on what will suit you needs/wants.

just a personal comment. I have a UK and NL SIM and i will use them when i get over there in Europe. I dont buy one in each country since i dont want to carry around a SIM for each country i visit in the past in in the future. I have the ones i have since ive been using Amsterdam as my "hub" and London for my rest day(s) before i return home.

happy trails.

Posted by
9363 posts

You have left this a little late to be able to do much research, but your options are:

  1. Use your phones on your own home network on their international plan (can be one of the more expensive options if you are a heavy phone user). Downside is that people who don't know you are traveling can call you at any time of day on your regular number,

  2. If your phone is unlocked (ask your carrier), you can buy a local SIM. Roaming rates are limited by law, so you can buy one local SIM when you arrive and continue to use it in other countries at a slightly higher rate. Downside to this is making sure that you can load more minutes over the internet or phone if you need more.

  3. World SIM cards, like Eurobuzz, are post-paid, meaning you pay only for what you use. Your number is permanent, unlike the local SIMs, which change every time you change the card. Per-minute rates are a bit higher, but if you don't use your phone a lot for calls home to the US, it's not too bad (and probably not as bad as your home network's international rate).

The best answer is going to depend on how you intend to use the phone. Do you need data or will you be OK using your apps and such in wifi locations? Realistically, how much do you intend to use the phones? It can be a little daunting to give up constant use of your phone if you are used to that, but you really can get around just fine without a phone most of the time.