Using your mobile device (cell phone) in Europe

Updated: February 2013

I’ve become so dependent on computers, smartphones, mobile phones, and my iPad that traveling without them would be a chore.  For me, the handiest device is my mobile smart phone.       These smart phones have many features, however this article  concentrates solely on using them as a telephoning device to make calls back to the USA or within Europe.

In November 2004, I began a similar blog post with this introduction:

Last spring there was a big marketing push in Florida to “trade-in” your old digital cell phone for a new GSM phone. This “Global System for Mobile Communication” has been the standard in Europe for many years but is just making headway into the US market. These phones often include fancy features such as voice mail, e-mail, web access, and photo capabilities in addition to its telephoning duties. I purchased a new GSM cell phone from AT&T, my local cellular provider, here in Florida. There was a little trouble getting used to the smaller phone, tiny buttons, and extra features, but in general it was an easy switch.

About a month later I took off for Europe with my new cell phone in my pocket. When I landed in London, I switched on the power and after about 30 seconds the phone acquired a signal from a local network, the time display was accurate, and I noticed the signal strength was much better than that which I had in the USA. Now that I was in Europe my “cell” phone became known as a “mobile” phone and was pronounced “MO-’BILE” with the stress on the second syllable.

In just nine years things have drastically change, technologically speaking, but I remember that first trip with my own cell phone in my pocket and how convenient it was to pull it out and make calls from the device I was accustomed to using here at home. So here is my lastest intel on taking your cell phone to Europe.

  1. Contact your mobile phone provider and sign up for one of their  international calling plan.  Plans vary, but normally there is a discounted rate ranging from 30 cents to 99 cents per minute of call time.
  2. When you leave the USA, turn off your voice mail, email, and data features.  Failure to forget this step will rack up hundred’s of dollars on you next phone bill.

I believe the convenience of having my cell phone is worth the cost. If for nothing else, it gives me peace of mind knowing everyone is just a phone call away.  Knowing that, in an emergency, a family member could pick up their telephone at home and give me a call is an added benefit. That’s why, since the trip in 2004, I never leave home without my own mobile phone.

Resources:

AT&T International dialing and data plans

Verizon International dialing and data plans

Sprint and Nextel dialing and data information

Virgin Mobile International dialing and data information

For information regarding the DATA and TEXTING features of Smartphones, iPhones, Tablets, and iPads check out my article coming soon.

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