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    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
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Cell phone questions

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Hi, everyone, and thanks in advance for your help. You're probably tired of cell phone questions, but I did read through other topics and didn't find an answer.

Here's the situation. We are four people (two teens, two parents), three iPhones and one ancient flip phone. We're planning a trip to UK and Germany, a few days in each place. The teens are digital natives, of course. I'm pretty comfortable with my smartphone. Husband is not comfortable with technology in general and smartphones in particular -- i.e., if we were to rent or buy him a phone in Europe, it would be stressful for him to figure out how to use it (on the other hand, he would probably be using it only to call me or the kids, so maybe that would be OK).

We've gone to Europe twice before and both times, phone-wise, we made poor choices. The first time we didn't prepare at all, so we weren't able to use our phones at all.

The second time, we talked with our Verizon rep beforehand and he said the cheapest thing to do would be to keep the phones in airplane mode and use them only when we had WiFi. We did that and it was ... OK ... but we couldn't really split up and still communicate with each other effectively. There was some frantic Twitter direct-messaging from coffee shops.

This time, we're hoping to be able to communicate with each other if we split up or get separated (the teens are pretty eager to go off on their own periodically, which I understand). The teens are also hoping to be able to stay in contact with their friends in the US, upload Snapchats, use Tumblr, Twitter, etc. -- although if necessary they could save all that for WiFi hotspot access.

Our voice use is likely to be pretty low because of the teen factor -- probably limited to periodic check-ins with their parents -- but texting and social media are likely to be high.

So with that background info, here are our questions:

1. If each of us buys a phone in the UK when we land, will it also work in Germany?

2. If we put our phones in airplane mode to block messages from the US, then we won't be able to communicate with each other unless we find WiFi access, right?

3. What are your thoughts on the $10/day fee through Verizon? This would come out to $440 which seems high...plus another $40 per month for 100 MB of data, 100 outgoing texts and 100 minutes of talk time. With two teens, we'd blast through that much data in the first couple days.

4. Verizon also has a plan (if I'm remembering correctly) where they'll mail you a compatible phone ahead of time, synched up to your "actual" phone, and you pay something like $20 for the month's service. Then when you come home, you return the phone. Thoughts on that? One of my concerns is that the data is still expensive, something like $25 for 100MB.

5. What are your thoughts on the T-Mobile Simple Choice plan? It looks like that's a flat $50 (per phone? per account?) and you have unlimited text, talk and roaming services throughout Europe.

6. What are your thoughts on subscribing to one month of unlimited WiFi usage through a company like Boingo? I read that two devices would cost $7.95 for one month of unlimited mobile Wi-Fi access.

Apologies for all the questions, but thanks for your feedback.

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