It is critical to understand and pre-plan how you will handle communications and electronics while you are abroad. Start by understanding what your challenges will be. Then develop your own plan and gather together what you need.

Europe Operates Only on GSM Networks 

Basically, there are two types of mobile phone networks — GSM and CDMA. Europe uses the GSM network and much of North America primarily uses the CDMA network. If your service provider uses CDMA, your phone won’t work in Europe—unless your particular device is one that can work on both networks. A few US cell providers use the GSM network (including T-Mobile and AT&T), so those phones should work fine in Europe. But watch out…your phone bill when you get home can be higher than your airfare!! As an example, Verizon charges $1.79 per minute for incoming and outgoing calls and $2.05 per minute for texts if you use your domestic phone plan. But they do offer a TravelPass for $10 per device per day that will allow you use of your phone abroad without extra roaming charges. Most providers offer something similar to temporarily transform your phone into an International phone while using your existing service.

Europe Operates on  900MHz and 1800MHz frequencies

Even if your US service provider operates on a GSM network, and you have set up temporary global services so you can use your phone in Europe without breaking the bank, your current phone will not be able to receive phone signals there UNLESS it is able to receive 900MHz and 1800MHz frequencies. Most of Europe is on 1800MHz, but for best coverage you.ll need a phone that can receive both 900MHz and 1800MHz. Basically, you will need a phone that’s labeled a “World Phone.”

So, your Phone options are…


Use your own phone, but with a European SIM Card for good rates & Service

If your phone can access the GSM network, it uses a SIM card. A SIM card is a small removable microchip that contains the phone’s number and account information. You can remove the SIM card from one device and insert it in a different device while keeping the same phone number. Also, you can swap out your current SIM card for one that has been issued by a European service provider.

Once you are in Europe, you will be able to purchase SIM cards in virtually any phone store as well as some  supermarkets, convenience stores and newsstands. Or you can purchase a SIM card that works throughout Europe before you leave on your trip (scroll down for one option). Note that SIM cards are cheap and generally come pre-loaded with prepaid credit.

The SIM card replacement option will only work if your phone is “unlocked.” Many mobile phones are “locked” and can only be used with your own provider until the cost of the phone has been absorbed by your contract. Most phones can be “unlocked” once this repayment period has ended. Just request that your provider do so. One unlocked, you will be free to swap out SIM cards whenever you travel abroad.

Buy An Unlocked Low-Cost Phone Before You Arrive or After You Are in Europe

One option to purchase in advance that fits all the requirements is shown below. Also, there are mobile phone shops available all over Europe, starting in the airport. Just hop in and ask for a low-cost, pre-paid smartphone (or just a basic phone if you prefer).

Pay As You Go and Topping Up: Most Europeans use “pay as you go” mobile phone service. Basically, you buy your mobile credit in 10€-30€ blocks and then buy more once you run out. All you have to do is buy a refill or “top up” card (make sure it is the same brand as your SIM card) at a shop/grocery store/vending machine/newsstand and then enter the printed code info into your phone.

Whatever You Decide to Do, Use WIFI when you can

From most accommodations, as well as cafes, WI-FI will be free. Plan to use it whenever you can. The Skype app is one way to make cheap calls across a WI-FI connection.

Phone Options

International Service with Your Own Provider

Check with your own provider to learn about options for adding International Service temporarily:

  • For Verizon, check out the Verizon TravelPass for $10/day/device.
  • For AT&T, ask about the $10/day International Pass.
  • T-Mobile offers the T-Mobile One Plus for $15/month plus $.25/minute.
  • Sprint Global has free international iPhone service for devices after the iPhone 5.

But DO NOT simply plan to use your phone as is during your trip and hope for the best. The sticker shock will bowl you over!!


Unlocked Basic Phone ($58)

  • 4.0″ high-resolution WVGA display with dual-core 1.3 GHz Processor.
  • Dual camera: Main camera 5MP; Front camera 2MP. HD 720p recording. LED flash. Auto focus. Face detection. Image stabilization.
  • 4 GB internal storage (micro SD expansion to 32GB)
  • Battery lasts up to 6 hours talk time, up to 360 hours standby time.
  • WI-FI networking with Mobile Hotspot and tethering capabilities.
  • GPS for navigation and location services; Bluetooth 3.0 stereo music; MP3 Player, MP4 Player, FM Radio, 3.5mm Audio Jack, Speed USB 2.0.

Orange holiday Prepaid SIM Cards

  • Calls and messages from Europe to home  with no roaming charges.
  • Browse the Internet in all of Europe.
  • 20GB highspeed 4G/LTE service.
  • Use with your own unlocked phone, or purchase an inexpensive unlocked phone for your trip and keep your own device safely stored.
  • Activate SIM chip by making a call or sending a text after you arrive in Europe.
  • Top off data and minutes online or in local tobacco shops.

Chargers, Adapters & Cables

Power Adapter

  • Four retractable plug configurations that will work in over 150 countries, eliminating the need to buy a different adapter every time you venture someplace new.
  • Dual USB ports for charging two electronics at once, such as a laptop, tablet, smartphone, camera, GPS unit or MP3 player.
  • Features overload, over-current and short circuit protection.
  • Compatible with outlets in Europe, the United Kingdom, North America and the South Pacific region.

Portable Phone Charger

Each day as you set out, carry along a fully charged back-up charger so you don’t end up without power at the worst time possible.

  • High-capacity charger can recharge your phone or tablet 5 to 7 times.
  • Two high quality Li-Polymer batteries and advanced smart chips work together to deliver a max-speed charge to any device,
  • Double USB ports allow you to charge your phone and iPad at the same time.
  • 94V0 flame-retardant rating; protects from overcharge, short-circuiting & overheating.


Electronics Organizer

You will be carrying along many tiny but essential items that can and will get lost in your luggage and thereby create stress during your trip. Don”t trust to luck. Have a system for your wires, cords, devices, Memory Cards and SIM cards.

  • Heavy-duty, durable and waterproof nylon, 
  • One large internal zipped mesh pocket in the cover.
  • Internal flex wall for electronics accessories storage, adjustable padded Dividers.

Camera Options

Digital Camera

  • Kodak FZ53-BL Digital Camera. 2.7″ LCD,  3.68 ounces. 0.9 x 3.6 x 2.2 inches.
  • Powerful 16.1-Megapixel CCD sensor gives room to enlarge, zoom and crop.
  • 28mm wide angle lens. Panning shot mode allows capture of subjects in motion
  • Face detection and auto exposure.
  • Uses standard SD/SDHC memory card, at least Class 4 and no more than 32GB.

Extra Memory Cards

  • SanDisk Ultra 32GB Class 10 SDHC UHS-I Memory Card.
  • Twice as fast as ordinary SDHC cards, allowing for rapid transfer of files.
  • Exceptional video recording with Class 10 rating for Full HD video (1080p).


Camera Case

  • Zippered front storage pocket holds extra memory card or small accessories.
  • Comfortable fit for slightly larger camera.
  • Detachable shoulder strap and belt loop.
  • Size 3.9 x 2.4 x 5.7 inches. Fits devices 3.9 x 1.8 x 5.5 inches.

Or Use Your I-Phone Camera, but Learn How

Your photos from your trip will be Incredibly important to you, especially after you get home. If you decide not to take a digital camera in favor of using your iPhone for photography, at least give yourself the gift of this Udemy crash course in iPhone photography so you will be ready to take professional photos on your iPhone.

What you’ll learn in this 1½ hour course includes:

  • How to replicate professional digital photography with your iPhone.
  • How to take stunning photos by utilizing professional-level shot composition.
  • How to optimize iPhone settings for taking the best photos.
  • How to professionally edit photos with Lightroom (free) on your iPhone.
  • How to utilize surrounding light to properly light your subjects.
  • How/why the best photographers tell stories in their photos.
  • How to take more impactful photos of people, landscapes, architecture,
  • Taught by Dale McManus, professional photographer, who makes a living with photography/videography using his iPhone.


 i-Phone Lens Set

Zoom will be one of your most important functions when taking pictures on your trip. If you have decided to use your iPhone for photographs, consider picking up a set of clip-on camera lenses that includes a zoom lens. This set includes 5 high-quality lenses:

  • 198-degree fish-eye lens
  • 0.63X wide-angle lens
  • 15X macro lens
  • 2X telephoto lens
  • CPL (circular polarizer lens) to reduce glare/reflections on glass or water.

Universal aluminum-alloy attachment clip. Protective zippered storage case with carabiner clip to keep in a pocket or attach to a belt. Camera will auto-focus through the lens. Compatible with virtually all smartphones.

Personal Comfort

Personal Fan

  • Strong Airflow: Speed 1: 2400 RPM, Speed 2: 3100 RPM, Speed 3: 3600 RPM
  • Foldable design can be used as desk or handheld fan. Has a hanger with a metal clip .
  • Includes its own power bank. Serves dual purposes of keeping you cool and recharging your phone.