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Lazyweb: Phone for Europe (Vacation)?

At the end of this month, Kim and will be in Europe (Spain mostly, flying through London for a short lay-over) for a vacation. I wanted to get some sort of (cheap) cellphone to use while we’re there.

I use Verizon in the States, so I can’t just swap out a SIM card – I missed out on a getting a free/review, unlocked WindowsCE at IT Forum due to the video series (boo-hoo, for me, right? ;>).

So I was wondering if anyone had a recommendation for where to get a phone. Is there something better than just buying one at the London airport or around London?

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Categories: The Analyst Life.

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9 Responses

  1. I used Adam Phones in London a couple of times. At Gatwick head to the Travelex desk in the South Terminal and ask to hire a phone. You'll get a Nokia, charger, car kit, etc. in a little bag for a couple of bucks a day – plus airtime. Worked well as an emergency/short call solution.

  2. Call Verizon customer support at 611 on your mobile phone and explain the issue. I got Cingular to issue me the unlock code and instructions for my handset in exactly this case. I’d been a customer for a long, long time, and explained how this mattered a great deal to me. They did it readily — I didn’t have to argue much.
    Do unlock the phone before you get to Europe, though. Most airports have storefronts selling SIM cards, and the person there can install a new card for you.

    Mike OlsonDecember 5, 2007 @ 4:11 pm
  3. Requirements, requirements, requirements – do you need just emergency/basic service (you know, what a phone used to be – make/receive calls), or the full caboodle?

    Given the high price of roaming in European countries (still!), depending upon the duration and ratio of time GBR:ESP, you might be better off picking up the phone in Spain and paying the penalty in the UK.

    DaintreeDecember 6, 2007 @ 12:30 am
  4. I suggest: do without a phone. You’re on vacation, bro!

  5. Mike: that all sounds good, except Verizon is a CDMA so there’s no the option to use SIM cards. I know! This totally sucks.

    Daintree: I really just want a phone for calling ahead to make reservations and coordinating with people we meet along the way. Seems like getting one in Spain is a good tip though.

    Glenn: I hear you. It’s not that I want the phone to “be on the phone,” but more that I want it for making vacation arrangements while on vacation 😉

  6. You can also buy a cheap phone in UK or Spain and use your Verizon SIM card, but roaming charges will apply even for local calls. So avoid this option or get ready to empty your pocket!

    It’s better to buy a phone + prepaid sim card in UK or Spain (starting at 29€). If you’re going to use it mainly in Spain, don’t buy the sim card in London. Carriers usually restricts roaming calls in prepaid cards, so you won’t be able to use it in Spain.

    My suggestion is that you buy the phone anywhere in UK or Spain, and a sim card in the country where you are going to use it. You can start with a low balance and recharge it whenever you need it.

  7. Thanks, Ferdy. It's sounding like the best option is to just buy a cheapish phone in Spain 😉

  8. IM me. I have an unlocked GSM phone you can borrow. Then just buy a prepaid SIM at your destination at a kiosk or grocery store.

    If you want to go really cheap, get a call-back service account set-up. Incoming calls are free in Europe, you'll pay something like $0.05/min for calls to the US (you'll still need a prepaid SIM)

  9. Coté,

    Your best bet is to get a SIM card here in Spain. The main operators also have sister companies in the UK; To get an idea as to the prices or pre-paid/pre-pago mobiles and their SIMs download the Phone House's catalogue ( or just the tariffs (

    Options for sourcing a SIM;Phone House (everything except Movistar), Branded shops for each of the main providers (Movistar/Telefonica, Orange, Vodafone) or the large supermarkets/department stores (Carrefour, Eroski, El Corte Ingles)