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Five Phone Calls, Five Countries

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HI there!

Going for our second time to Europe. We are staying in vacation rental apartments, and the apartment owners would like us to call them on the day of arrival to pinpoint exact time to meet us. Other than that, we like to disconnect (meaning no phone calls home usually). We will have my Android smartphone, I'll put it in airplane mode like I did our first visit to Europe, and only use free wifi (included in most apartment rentals).

Last year, we only had to use the phone a couple of times, so once I used a public phone in the train station (ha! what a joke! Cost me $20 US and the other person could not hear me!). We also purchased a sim card in Venice and could not get it to complete a call to the airlines (operator stupidity?).

What are your best suggestions?
I could download Skype, but from my research it looks like you must have the premium plan for use in Europe and there's still a per minute fee.

Should I buy five sim cards? Keep in mind, I'm pretty stupid when it comes to figuring out how they work (and they all seem to be slightly different!)

All help appreciated!

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