• Kristin Lajeunesse posted an update 3 years, 7 months ago

    Let’s talk SIM cards. I’ll be spending a week in Turkey (starting mid-next week), then a week in Greece, then six weeks in Berlin (and a few more stops throughout Europe over the coming months)…

    I’ve done a lot of research on cards and even picked up the ForbestFone SIM as a backup. But in terms of local cards I’m becoming a bit overwhelmed.

    So, two questions: (1) What exactly is this “tethering” I keep reading about and do I need to worry about it? And (2) what are the apps that travelers use these days for texting that don’t use data/don’t require a phone number?

    Oh and any suggestions specific to Turkey, Greece, and/or Berlin? Danke! 😀 xo

    • For part two of your inquiry, I know folks who have used WhatsApp for international messaging: https://www.whatsapp.com/

    • I bought a SIM card in Sweden with a pay as you go plan. It will work all over Europe or use Whatsapp to reach anyone in the world ( that is also on Whatsapp.) It’s doesn’t use data if you have a WiFi connection but you will need a phone number for it work. When in Europe I use the Swedish number from the SIM and in the US I use my local number.

    • Hey Kristin!
      Tethering is just connecting your phone to your computer or other devices and sharing your connection. Generally, when roaming, sim providers do not allow tethering.

      Since you’re spending a longer time in Germany, you may want to consider a local pay-as-you-go sim, but it’s been my experience that wifi is available almost everywhere, especially in Europe. If you are set on getting a sim card, I’d recommend looking at which countries each of them provides free usage for. For example, Telia in Scandinavia allows for free data and minutes within your allowance in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Three, which is available in quite a few countries, allows for free usage of your allowance in the UK, Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Macau, New Zealand, Norway, Ireland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, and the US. I’m not sure if all of the countries with Three allow for this international plan, but all of the ones bought in the UK do. This is the plan I have for my international needs, since it’s only around 15 pounds a month, and it allows for a prepaid package as well.

      As for texting, as @jaclynmiller and @dave said, WhatsApp is probably the most convenient, especially as it’s used really widely in Europe. You need a phone number for that, but any phone number will do, so you can download it and set it up while in the US, and it only uses data or wifi, so just as long as you turn off data on your phone, you’ll be fine.
      Facebook messenger is also quite handy, that allows phone calls and texting, just like WhatsApp does.
      I personally have a Skype subscription for unlimited calling to the US since I live in Europe, that has been a life-saver. If you don’t expect to be calling home too often, I would recommend the pay-as-you-go option for that as well. Skype is running a free month trial right now, so definitely get signed up for that for your first month: https://www.skype.com/en/offers/unlimited-world-calling/

      • LOL, I was gonna say WhatsApp, but I think it’s been covered.

      • Hi @michelle – Wowie! Thank you for all this info! So, you’re saying if I can access wifi I don’t need a local SIM at all? I can just use my existing one even though it isn’t one that works outside the US?

        • Yep, that’s exactly what I’m saying! You might want to disable your data on your phone just in case so you don’t get charged for that, but your phone will be able to get wifi and you can make free calls and texts with facebook and whatsapp through that. Good places for free wifi are hostels, cafes, train/bus stations, and libraries, but honestly there is free wifi almost everywhere nowadays.

          • That’s so awesome! In all the research I’ve done I didn’t realize I didn’t need any local SIM card at all. And if I’m connected to wifi (anywhere in the world) I can update social media and check email and all that, right? 🙂 <– sorry if these are so basic questions.

            • Yeah, exactly, you really don’t need a SIM card at all! Haha that’s okay, I struggled with the same thing the first time I went traveling, and I ended up just using my American sim to call home (these were the scary times before smart phones) and it ended up costing a fortune. Just don’t do that and you’ll be fine! 🙂

            • Thank you so much, Michelle!!!!

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