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Last updated February 07, 2016. 


Keeping in Touch 
For many people the hardest thing about traveling is being away from family and friends.  Luckily, there are plenty of cost efficient ways of maintaining contact with the important people in your life while you are away.

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Cell Phones/Mobile Phones
I realize some people can just not live without their cell phone/mobile phones, but if you bring one with you (and use it) be prepared to pay. There are options for reducing roaming charges, such as switching to a prepaid phone for your time away or even using a SIM card but assuming you have a multi-band phone that can actually be used in Europe, the per minute usage costs begin as low as 99
˘ and top out as high as $5.99 per minute. The average rate seems to be around $1.99 per minute to call from Europe to North America. Sending and receiving  text messages is a bit cheaper. 

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of International Cell Phone Service An in-depth article about using cell phones while traveling abroad. Read this article to help find out what option will work best for you.

Cell Phones for International Use--Buy or Rent
If you don't already have a cell phone (or your cell phone does not work abroad), but you would like to have one with you while traveling, buying or renting a cell phone is an option.

Buying Pre-Paid SIM Cards
IIf you have a SIM card-compatible cell phone, buying a prepaid SIM card is a great way to save money for calling home while abroad. Your cell phone must be a tri-band/world phone and MUST be unlocked for prepaid SIM cards to work. If your phone is locked, an easy way to unlock is through online specialist Unique Phones.

  • Telestial offers 3 calling plans on their prepaid SIM cards, so there's one that will match your exact needs for calling while abroad:

    • Excellent coverage in Europe and over 130 countries  

    • The "Passport" SIM offers free incoming calls in over 60 countries and rates from .49˘ per minute

    • The "Passport Plus" SIM offers some of the lowest rates of any Global SIM from .29˘ per minute

    • The "Passport Lite" SIM costs just $5 to buy; the best option for call security while enjoying your trip

  • Cellular Abroad offers cell phone rental and/or pre-paid SIM cards at reasonable prices. Currently they are offering a $10 discount if you mention the promo code backpack10 when ordering online or if you call 1-800-287-3020.

Apps for Cheap Phone Calls
Make cheap international calls at local prices from your mobile, landline, or computer.

  • no monthly fees or hidden charges

  • free Smartphone apps available for iPhone and Android & a desktop app for Windows or Mac.

  • Compared to regular telephone services and calling cards, our calling rates are over 80% cheaper for more than 200 countries.

Charging Your Batteries
Many hostels have outlets you can use to recharge your phone, but you may have to compete for outlet time. If you don't want to have to worry about when/where you can recharge your phone (not to mention buying plug adaptors), you can consider buying a recharger that operates on one AA battery.

Check out my Packing Electronics for more information about bringing electronic equipment with you as you travel.

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