Europe trip preparation: Phone and Internet

Among the different phones networks here, I am already using a phone that is commonly used around the world, which happily includes Europe. However, overseas roaming charges are there. Calling a local number while in the country, with the SIM card of the operator back home inside, is technically seen as an overseas call, which means higher charges. One way around it is to get a local SIM card or use a payphone.

Problem with getting a local SIM card is that I would be travelling to an another country, making the call while in that other country also seen as an overseas call. In addition for prepaid SIM cards, I can't get the refund of unused balance. The same for using a phone card for payphones.

How about using coins for payphones? Well, if you have several coins of specific denominations, that wouldn't be a problem, but, for overseas calls, that means inserting coins more frequently. In practice, who would even carry so many coins of the same denomination? Sure the payphone says that they accept higher denominations, but they also have this (possibly hidden) rule saying that any unused credit (of the denomination of the coin you inserted) would not be refunded. This effectively means that you would end up spending more for what, in theory, should have been less.

Using data while roaming? You got to be kidding me: the cost of just 1MB of data can buy you several meals at MacDonald's, although some operators are kind enough to place a daily cap if you select certain mobile operators of the country you are in. But still, even with the cap, using it for several days (especially a whole month) is just not cheap.

What about Skype? Well, Skype is definitely an option I would recommend, provided that you could even go online (You would be crazy to use the mobile data while roaming.) with a wifi spot or hope to come across a computer with one installed. Best of all, it's free! (excluding fees to go online and period of use) Hope the other person is online.

The nice thing about adding credit to your Skype account is that you can dial any number in the world form anywhere and get charged about the same as a local call. You can also dial toll-free numbers of certain countries using skype and you will not be charged, even if you have no credit in your balance at all. Another way those credits could be used is to use it with "Skype Wifi" on your PC or smart phone and connect to wifi spots that would otherwise require to jump through some troublesome registration, along with fees that charge you by the block instead of by the minute. I had not come across any supported network that works myself though.

Hope that I can come across a PC that I could at least get online. Even better if I can use skype with it or upload my pictures.


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