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how should I go about phones while traveling in europe?

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I'm traveling with 3 others this july for about a month to spain, france, netherlands, germany, czech rep, switzerland, and italy. We're afraid that if we take our phones from the U.S. then we'll get slammed with high bills. We need to be able to communicate with each other in case we split off and call ahead to hotels as well, but we don't need to call back to the U.S. while we're there.

What is the best (reliable/cheap) way? I had assumed that disposable cell phones with a set # of minutes was the best, but I dont know much about them.


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