Cell phone solution for European travel

This summer, I will be in Prague and Budapest for about ten days. I’d like to stay in touch with people by phone, but not sure how viable my AT&T Android phone would be there. Any suggestions on the best way to have access to my standard number and voicemail while abroad?

This entry was posted in advice requested and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Cell phone solution for European travel

  1. Russell says:

    AT&T has some pretty decent international plans as far as data and voice go. You can add them for just the pay period you’ll be overseas.

    As far as voicemail, I recommend converting your voicemail to Google Voice, and that way you can access it from any internet connected device, and not have to worry about using expensive international minutes to check.

    • cramer says:

      ATT has a “call international from home” option (World Call(TM)?), but that’s it. They have no options for using your phone outside their network the same as in-network. It’s a well published fact that ATT (like every other provider) will being raping you the instant your phone connects to a foreign network. Also, just because it’s GSM and they say it’s a “world phone” doesn’t mean it really is — my phone is a “world phone”, but it won’t work at all in Israel. (a fact ATT still lies about.)

      • Russell says:

        Well, no, of course you’re going to be roaming, but they do offer plans to reduce or offset the costs.

        Also, a quad band GSM phone will work in most of the world, including Hungary, which is the country at question here. Of course there are going to be places where it won’t.

  2. xpo172 says:

    Switch to Verizon?

    • cramer says:

      Verizon has no network outside the US. While you can get an international phone from them, your service will not be provided by them outside the US. If it’s like Roger’s dealings, it’s a pain in the ass — if you forget to dial the special code BEFORE leaving the verizon network, you’re pretty well screwed.

      HOWEVER, once out of the country, it’s a simple process to pick up a prepaid SIM and have local service. ‘tho you will not have your same number.

  3. Russell says:

    CDMA phones, like those on Verizon, don’t generally work outside the US. Unless you specifically buy a “world phone” from Verizon, which has both CDMA and GSM antennas and chipsets.

  4. Janelle says:

    Barron recommends Google Voice. He had a friend who was able to forward his cell number to a local landline phone. Not sure though if that would work overseas, but I don’t know of any reason it wouldn’t.

  5. pa stubbs says:

    The easiest thing I’ve found is when you get there just get one of those cheap prepaid phones. But depending on how much you talk AT&T should be fine it comes down to how many minutes you use. Once you hit a certain limit that AT&T bill is going to stack up.

  6. FrankInFL says:

    In 2008 I got a cheap-o GSM phone from an outfit called CallInEurope.com. It cost me $60 for the phone and another $40 for two weeks usage and I got to keep the phone for future use.

    Worth checking them out…

  7. Ingermanland says:

    Большинство Андроидных GSM телефонов работают на четырех и более частотах, включая те стандарты, которые приняты в Европе. Check your phone model specs and figure out if it operates at 900/1800Mhz (Czech and Hungarian GSM standards) .
    If it works at these bands call AT&T customer support and ask for unlocking code for you device. Your device must be unlocked to operate in Europe.

    • Russell says:

      It doesn’t have to be unlocked to work in Europe, only if you want to use a local SIM card.

  8. Frank W. James says:

    When I went to IWA back in March Verizon (my provider here) had to provide me with a different phone for Europe as my Blackberry was not compatible with the European system. So first contact your service provider and find out the specifics about using ‘your’ phone in Prague and Budapest. As I recall the cost really wasn’t that much extra. It was just the hazzle of getting things done before leaving….

    All The Best,
    Frank W. James

  9. Linoge says:

    You can get a SIM card overseas to pop into your phone, which would then let you use whatever network you buy it from to call back to the States and check your voicemail.

    But, yeah, I would strongly recommend Google Voice these days – you can check your “voicemail” with nothing more than a data connection and a computer.

  10. Luke says:

    If you’re worried about keeping you phone number while you’re overseas, get the international plan for hte time that you’re there. AT&T is fairly reasonable about activity feature like for just a month and then allowing you to cancel with no penalty. A cheaper route would be to get the unlock code for your phone from AT&T, and the buy a prepaid sim from a local provider, but you may not get data that way. The cheapest route would be to forward yuor number to Google Voice, and then only use the phone when you have a good wi-fi connection.

  11. Ratseal says:

    Lived and worked in Europe from 07-10. I ran two phones, an unlocked ATT distributed Blackberry Curve with an ATT SIM that used a US number but allowed international calls and SMS and data, as well as a locally sourced but also unlocked feature phone (Nokia E70) with a European plan SIM from Orange.

    For low volume calling and SMS use the ATT phone and convert your plan for the month that you gone. My international calling and texting cost me $10 each per month from ATT, plus a sliding scale per call and SMS over a preset limit.

    As long as you land during business hours, any major European airport has mobile phone kiosks where you can pick up a burner for cash, easily under 80EUR.

  12. Lyle says:

    Bring back a case of Vz. 52s for me, please, and two cases of magazines for them.

  13. Kristopher says:

    Leave the verizon phone at home, and just buy a local disposable cellphone.

    As the above poster mentioned, use internet services to access your verizon calls.

  14. Brad Kohr, II says:

    I think you can have Google Voice forward your calls to a Skype Number, and then forward those to an international one.

  15. SPQR says:

    Oleg, I really enjoyed Prague the last time I visited there. Don’t know how you feel about art museums but I greatly enjoyed the Alphonse Mucha museum in Prague.

    Here’s a great website written by a Brit expat living in Prague:
    He has some great info on how to use public transit successfully. As well as quite a bit of detailed discussion of hotels, bars, restaurants etc.

    There is a lot of good advice above on different phone solutions.

  16. SPQR says:

    I forgot to add this specific page from Living Prague on phone providers:

  17. TOR says:

    To just have a phone the easiest answer would be to buy a throw away here, email folks the number and suck it up paying for minutes to make important calls. I know folks who have international plans. It may require a different phone number though.

Comments are closed.