Best way to keep phone contact back home from Europe

I’m about to embark on my 11-day dream bucket list trip leaving my kiddo at home. We both have apple 12/13 iphones with Verizon. I’d like to be able to check in with my kiddo every day. 
The Verizon travel plan would cost $110. eSIM cards are more affordable but when I tried to sign up it says “data plan only”. I’m not as worried about data, I want cellular. Can someone explain this to me and make a recommendation? 

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Just use FaceTime (or FaceTime audio) while you are traveling and connected to Wifi. Its free. 

You can also text for free using iMessage (now "Messages"). iPhone to iPhone is free. 

PS. Also if you switch, T-mobile is free to use, even data, in most EU countries. You usually get a text when you land explaining what you get for free or what is charged upon arrival.


If you do a data only plan you can still call with FaceTime video or FaceTime audio. 

Depending on where you are traveling and if your phone is unlocked/uses a SIM card, I would get an Orange travel card sent to you now and you can swap cards once you arrive in Europe. This does mean you would have an EU number while using that SIM. And also utilize FaceTime/FaceTime audio when you have wifi (or data) or WhatsApp audio calling.

I feel your pain – it's confusing and potentially expensive.  I'm not an expert, but we did a fair amount of international traveling pre-COVID and ran into exactly this conundrum.  Our solution – awkward as it sounds – was to switch to T-Mobile.  They have a great international setup for most countries, so that you step off the plane and your phone works without changing phone numbers or big data/call overages (comes with 5Gigs of data, which his totally adequate for 2 weeks of FaceTime calls).  In our analysis, it was way cheaper and more convenient than Verizon or the local SIM options.  Link here.

Hope that helps,


Just download WhatsApp and you can talk, text and photo share for free.

Data plans will enable you to use FaceTime audio or video, and text between iPhones as well. Will also enable use of maps and other apps you made need while out and about. People rarely use cellular now! Anyone not on an iPhone, you can communicate via WhatsApp, viber, etc. 

If you do data you connect via FaceTime and texting. 

I've traveled internationally and never paid extra for a cell plan.  You can do iMessage / FaceTime Audio to text / make calls over wifi, since you both have iPhones.  I've always found that wifi is pretty easy to access, even if it's not available all the time, and this also helped me be less glued to my phone.  (I guess the only question is whether you need 100% access in case of an emergency.)  Enjoy!

Options - free

Get whatsapp of line or any of the other apps that have free data and phone calls (yes even video calls)  then check in with your kids when you are on wifi on your US phone (keep it on airplane mode from

when you take off till you return to the US) (they'll be 9-10 hours behind so end of the day for you in Europe when you are back in the hotel) Many free wifi spots all over Europe- coffee shops etc.

Option 2

Get an EU sim in the first country you get to. EU sim-

France, Italy etc have the same rates over the EU (eg WIND Italy charges you in France what you would pay in Italy). 

If you go to the UK get a separate UK sim if your EU sim doesn't include the UK. 

Don't sms text (as opposed to whatsapp or similar). texting is almost obsolete in Europe as it costa x per message to send and receive and most people use free whatsapp or similar. 

if you tell us which countries you're going to parents can  give country specific advice. Scandinavia has amazing wifi coverage.. 

In UK I recommend Tesco pay as you go. In Italy Wind or Tim or any of the big companies- pay as you go. You do get less data pay as you go (basically you top up in supermarkets or newsagent) BUT if you're primarily using whatsapp anyway data usage should be minimal. 

Safe travels. 

you both have iphones, so it seems pretty easy. buy the esim data-only plan and use facetime audio or video for calls to each other. that technology uses data rather than cell. cell service options are more expensive, even if you buy your own service from elsewhere. 

if you must have the phone service, i’d probably buy an esim from orange (if it works for your needs/destinations) and call it a day. it’s 20 eur for one of their basic all inclusive plans, which is a lot easier on the wallet than verizon (which is one of the worst carriers for intl coverage). actually i guess i’d probably consider the orange esim regardless of data vs voice 🤣

I would look into the holiday Sim card options for the major carriers of the country you are arriving into and buy a physical Sim card at the airport upon arrival. For example, into Paris CDG you can get a Holiday Sim at the Orange store which includes 10G with unlimited calls and text throughout Europe for 30euros. Data and cell service is much cheaper overseas than in the US. I just came back from living in France and used this particular carrier and had no troubles traveling around Europe in regards to cell or Data coverage.


I have Verizon as well and when we travel, we activate the international plan for $15 for the month, then all usage remains the same as in the US. We stay fully connected as if we were home. We travel to France and to Japan, the same.

Make sure you have cheap international data and roaming on your plan and call your son with WhatsApp 

If you get a data plan, you should be able to use iMessages, FaceTime, Skype, etc 

You might want to check out T-mobile. I had T-mobile when visit Berlin several years ago. Cellular signal was great, and I believe there was no or very little charge for using monthly quota of call, text message, and data there.  

I always use Verizon and pay $10 a day and it works just fine.

I have t-mobile, but thought I’d respond anyway in case my experience might be helpful. I travel to Europe often and what I usually do is purchase a 10-day “international pass” on t-mobile website, for $40. It allows unlimited international calls and texting, plus makes it possible to use Google maps while in Europe. 
It can be found in the “add-ons” section of the website. Perhaps Verizon has something similar? 

Don't bother with a SIM card for Europe. Just plan to FaceTime when you have access to WiFi in your hotel room.

When we traveled to Bali in 2019 we just connected to wifi and facetimed with our kid through his parents phone. You just need wifi, not really cellular data. Unless you want to be reachable at all times. But if the goal is to check in daily, then wifi at the hotel, or cafes, or whatever, then you should be fine going this route. 

If you just need to touch base at some point daily, turn on Wi-Fi calling and call when you're on Wi-Fi (probably every hotel you stay at).  It works! No charge if you're using it to call  a U.S. number from anywhere. If there's an unexpected emergency when you need to call (or be called), just be prepared for the $10/24 hours charge. Be sure your kid understands that calling you is NOT the first point of contact in an emergency (arrange with someone local to be the person they can call on).