If you're traveling with a laptop, take a spare battery and an electrical-plug adapter with you, as new batteries and replacement adapters are expensive. Many hotels are equipped with jacks for computers with Internet connections, and almost all have Wi-Fi. Some offer this service to hotel guests for free; others may charge up to €15 per hour for access.
The country code for the Netherlands is 31. The area code for Amsterdam is 020. To call an Amsterdam number within Amsterdam, you don't need the city code: just dial the seven-digit number. To call Amsterdam from elsewhere in the Netherlands, dial 020 at the start of the number. In addition to the standard city codes, there are three other prefixes used: public information numbers starting with 0800 are free phone numbers, but be aware that information lines with the prefix 0900 are charged at premium rates (35¢ a minute and more). Numbers starting with 06 indicate mobile (cell) phones. Mobile signal strength is good throughout the country.
The area codes for other Dutch cities are: Delft, 015; Rotterdam, 010; Utrecht, 030; Haarlem, 023; The Hague, 070.
When dialing a Dutch number from abroad, drop the initial zero from the local area code, so someone calling from New York, for example, to Amsterdam would dial 011 + 31 + 20 + the seven-digit phone number. When dialing from the Netherlands overseas, the country code is 00-1 for the United States and Canada, 00-61 for Australia, and 00-44 for the United Kingdom. All mobile and landline phones in Holland are 10 digits long (although some help lines and information centers have fewer digits).
Since hotels tend to overcharge for international calls, it is best to use a public phone. When making a call, listen for the dial tone (a low-pitched hum), insert a credit card, then dial the number. Since the increase in cellular phones, the number of phone cells, or phone booths, is decreasing. At every railway station there are still plenty of pay phones, either in the ticket hall or on the platforms.
To ask directory assistance for telephone numbers outside the Netherlands, dial 0900/8418 (calls are charged at €1.15 per call). For numbers within the Netherlands, dial 0900/8008 (calls are charged at €1.15 per call).
To reach an operator, dial 0800/0410. To make a collect call, or dial toll-free to a number outside the Netherlands, dial 0800/0101.
The country code for the United States is 1.
AT&T Direct (0800/022–9111.)
MCI WorldPhone (0800/023–5103. consumer.mci.com.)
Telephone cards are no longer used in public phone booths in the Netherlands. They accept credit cards instead, or local chip cards (available only with Dutch bank passes).
British standard cell phones work in the Netherlands, but American and Canadian standard (nonsatellite) cell phones may not. If you have a multiband phone (some countries use different frequencies than what's used in the United States) and your service provider uses the world-standard GSM network (as do T-Mobile, Cingular, and Verizon), you may be able to use your phone abroad. Roaming fees can be steep, however: 99¢ a minute is considered reasonable. And overseas you normally pay the toll charges for incoming calls. It's almost always cheaper to send a text message than to make a call, since text messages have a low set fee. If you'd like to rent a cell phone while traveling, reserve one at least four days before your trip, as most companies will ship it to you before you travel. CellularAbroad rents cell phones packaged with prepaid SIM cards that give you a local cell phone number and calling rates. Planetfone rents GSM phones, which can be used in more than 100 countries. If you just want to make local calls, your best bet may be to consider buying a new SIM card (note that your provider may have to unlock your phone for you to use a different SIM card) and a prepaid service plan in the destination. You'll then have a local number and can make local calls at local rates. If your trip is extensive, you could also simply buy a new cell phone in your destination, as the initial cost will be offset over time.
If you travel internationally frequently, save one of your old mobile phones or buy a cheap one on the Internet; ask your cell phone company to unlock it for you, and take it with you as a travel phone, buying a new SIM card with pay-as-you-go service in each destination.
Cellular Abroad. This company rents and sells GSM phones and sells SIM cards that work in many countries. 800/287–5072. www.cellularabroad.com.
Mobal. With per-call rates that vary throughout the world, Mobal rents mobiles and sells GSM phones that will operate in 140 countries. 888/888–9162. www.mobalrental.com.
Planet Fone. This firm rents cell phones, but the per-minute rates are expensive. 888/988–4777. www.planetfone.com.
rent2connect (+32/2/652–1414. www.locaphone.be.)