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Cell phone use in Europe for dummies

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Okay, I know there is a lot of cell phone usage questions on here but I'm still confused. Can someone please just answer my questions in simple, non-techie terms for me? We've traveled abroad many times but this is the first time we feel the need to have a working cell phone, as this is our first trip abroad since having our twins and I need to be able to reach my in-laws, and vice versa, as they will be watching the girls.

1) I have a Blackberry Torch. It appears as though I can use this in Europe. Do I need to purchase a special SIM card? I'll be traveling in Germany and Italy.

2) I read on slowtrav that it may be really expensive to use my cell overseas even if I can purchase a SIM card because of the roaming charges. If this is true, is it better to consider renting a phone with a specific plan?

3) If I choose to rent, can someone recommend a company to consider?

Thanks!
Tracy

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