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Naive question about cell phones in Europe

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I'd like to ask for help because I'm heading for Europe next April and May and I'll face the issue. But my problem is I'm so technically naive I don't even know what some of the jargon means! So please bear with me...

I've got a traditional older generation cell phone here in the US, that does nothing but let me make and receive phone calls. I have a monthly plan with Verizon that includes about 10 times the "minutes" I ever use, but it's the cheapest they'll sell me! I don't use the phone to take pictures or surf the web or anything else like that and I see no need ever to do so, during my remaining lifetime!

But once I'm in Europe next April, I'll be moving about all over the place, alone, using my one-month Eurailpass to see Europe from a train window, until my wife joins me in Barcelona in May. While I'm on my own, I can imagine needing to keep in touch with my wife back home, because I need to watch my health carefully (different thread) and let her know I'm ok. I will also, in all likelihood, want to leave hostels till the last minute, and phone ahead maybe a day or two in advance to inquire about open beds, etc.

I envision traveling all over the 22 countries the pass will allow me to reach. For sure, Norway is on the list, and I'm considering eastern Europe, including such destinations as Krakow, Prague, Budapest, Bucharest, Istanbul, and perhaps Sofia, Beograd, Zagreb, and Ljubljuana!

So help me out here, folks. What exactly do I need to do, to be able to do all that? I assume that using any device to check email and surf the internet means I'd need not only the device itself but also a subscription to some service that actually sends internet signals to my phone from Mars or wherever the satellites really are. So I don't just buy the device and the sim card, do I? I also buy "a plan", like I pay for now through the nose to Verizon, monthly till I die?!

Hey I told you I was naive!

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