Cell Phones in Europe

Parent Q&A

  • Navigation tools for UK Trip?

    (8 replies)

    My family and I will be travelling to the UK in January for 9 days and, while there, will rent a car to visit various places in and around Oxford. Unfortunately most of the rental cars do not come equipped with navigation systems so we are left to fend for ourselves. We have cell phones with AT and T as well as Verizon service and have Google maps installed in them. Our fear is that if we use these applications while driving around the countryside the cost of the data used will be very expensive. We would very much appreciate knowing from experienced travelers if there are any other type of navigation systems or applications which we could use while we are there without incurring a large bill. Many thanks.. 

    I always used these funny things called maps.  You plan your route in advance.  If something new crops up, you pull off the road and look for a new route.  Never had a problem -- from Cornwall to Land's End.  I like the spiral-bound AA Road Atlas:  https://www.amazon.com/Big-Road-Atlas-Britain-2020/dp/0749581298/ref=sr_...

    You can download maps on Google to use offline in the Google maps app. You can also download TripAdvisor city guides to use offline within the app. 

    Or, get T-Mobile and stop worrying about international roaming and data charges!

    We moved from Oakland to London a few years ago. There are plenty of cell phone stores on any high road (main street) where you can pick up a chip and have it put into your phone for the duration of your trip. Then before you head back you can just pop your regular, US SIM card back in. I have an unlimited plan for about $35/month through a UK carrier called Vodafone, and there are much cheaper packages available for less data, which would be fine for the duration of your trip. I’ve held onto my US SIM card while we’ve lived here and have switched back and forth between the two whenever we visit the US and then come back here. Enjoy, and definitely check out the Cotswold villages during your trip!   

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Cell phone for Europe Trip

Sept 2007

I will be driving around Italy in October. Would like to have a cell phone to use for safety reason (buy/rent)and maybe a call home or two. I don't expect to use it a lot but also don't want to spend $10 a minute. My local carrier has no support in Italy. Suggestions?? Thanks Jesse

Visit mobal.com and see what they have. I bought a cell phone from them a few years ago and have used it in England, Italy and Greece. The phone was reasonably priced and the bill for the calls was not outrageous, though I can't quite remember what it was. They provided excellent service and answered all questions. Worth checking it out. satisfied customer

Buy an unlocked quad band GSM phone and then when you arrive in Italy buy a sim card for the phone, sold at magazine stands (I think) and you'll be good to go. You should also be able to buy a recharge card as well if you will need it. This phone and system will work in most other countries. You might want to check into a discount access code, a number you will dial before the phone number. Good Luck traveller

You can get a bunch of info about using cell phones in Europe on Fodors.com at their talk site. The best way to use that forum is to go to the Europe section of Fodors Talk and search for past discussions on cell phones or mobile phones. If you still have questions after reading the archives, then ask a question. It is a great site for other travel questions, too; just make sure you always check their archives first. You can also try the Rick Steves site. Anon.