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Cellular phones in Paris...would you bother?

Cellular phones in Paris...would you bother?

Old May 6th, 2007, 06:53 PM
  #1  
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Cellular phones in Paris...would you bother?

I know this is probably a silly question, but I was wondering how many Americans on this forum go ahead and bring their cell phones to Paris (or other destinations where service from US carriers may be limited). I understand that, depending on your carrier, in order to get reception you often have to request special service, which is generally at an increased price. I am trying to decide if that's really worth it for me.

I certainly don't forsee talking for an extended period of time on my cellular while I am there. However, it would be nice to know that, in case of emergency, my family back home can get ahold of me easily. Also, in the unlikely event that I were to get separated from my husband (on the metro or whatever), it seems like a cell would be a really good thing to have in a pinch. I have to admit, it's a bit of a security blanket for me, though.

What are your experiences? Those of you that brought your cell phones, do you wish you hadn't bothered? Is there anyone here that didn't bring one that wishes they did?
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Old May 6th, 2007, 07:11 PM
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I usually don't take a phone when I travel to Paris alone, but last month I travelled with my niece and her two teenage daughters, and they brought their phones. The phones did come in handy when we wanted to keep in touch and to find one another when we went our separate ways. Our apartment offered free phone calls to the US so we did the extended talks in the evening when we returned.
Their carrier was Cingular - they "turned on" the phones before they left. The reception was perfect - never had a problem.
I usually use phone cards when out and about, and the apartment phone in the evening.
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Old May 6th, 2007, 07:11 PM
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If your carrier in the US is using GSM, such as Cingular, the phone will work throughout Europe. You do have to contact your carrier, and request that International Service be enabled. This can take from 1-21 days depending upon the carrier, and your credit history with them. Most carriers have International Roaming disabled to prevent fraud.
If you pay an extra monthly amount to Cingular, they will offer you reduced rates that are very attractive to low usage users travelling to Europe.

I would not consider travelling, especially by car, without a cell for safetys sake!
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Old May 6th, 2007, 07:13 PM
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hdm
 
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Jazzblues, we just went through this decision. My SO carries a cellphone because his mom is elderly and her health is a little fragile and he wants his sister to be able to reach him if necessary. However, his phone won't work in Europe.

On the advice of a friend who seems to know about these things, he bought a used Nokia phone that is now 'open' (which I think means it's not attributed to any phone number). When we get to Paris he'll buy a short term SIM card for it (40 euros) and that should carry us through the three weeks we'll be in France.

Of course, we'll also leave our itinerary with all our hotel names and numbers with his sister.

There may be other options but that seemed to be the simplest for us. I find this whole cellphone thing very confusing.
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Old May 6th, 2007, 07:24 PM
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I don't use a cell phone when traveling in Europe, preferring email for communications home and using a phone card for local calls (unless staying in an apartment that offers local calls, not always the case). If you're staying in a hotel the front desk will accept messages from local callers (like restaurants needing reservation confirmation) that you may return at your leisure.

I actually like the sense that I'm "off the grid" when traveling, but then I only use my cell phone at home for outgoing calls in any case.

You should, by the way, already have planned exactly what you're supposed to do if you separated in the metro. A reasonable option is to get off at the very next station and wait for the next train (presumably bearing your travel partner).

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Old May 6th, 2007, 07:27 PM
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I take my cell phone all over the world with me, but that's because I run a small business and am never totally "on vacation" and have to connect with clients as well as family and friends.

Frankly, I can no longer imagine not being able to make and receive calls no matter where I am in the world. Same with email, which I get on my phone. Can't live without it.
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Old May 6th, 2007, 07:32 PM
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sjj
 
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If you're staying at a hotel you can call the US inexpensively from Paris or wherever by using a calling card. If you're renting an apartment you need a cell phone to make reservations and to keep in contact with family and friends in the US in case of an emergency. To find out how to use your cell phone in Europe, look for posts by xyz123 on this forum or search the phrase cell phone.
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Old May 6th, 2007, 07:43 PM
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..re if you stay in an apt you need a cell phone..DEPENDS- many apts have free local service but no long distance except with a calling card (..very cheap- I bought a 15 euro card and still have 11 left after 2 weeks. I use a quad band as I travel a lot on business but it is only back up.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 06:04 AM
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A cell phone weighs a few ounces and fits in a pocket or bottom of your purse. I carry it all the time at home, so why not away from home? (T-Mobile)
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Old May 7th, 2007, 06:08 AM
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Make sure the PHONE you take is at least a tri-band if not a quad band phone or it won;t "work" in Eruope regardless of who your US carrier is.

I appreciate being able to use my own phone in Europe and since I don't use it that much I simply stay with my current provider (Cingular) when there.

The e-mail on my Blackberry is nice to have but I rarely look at it when I'm on vacation.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 06:33 AM
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Phone cards are 5 euros for 300 minutes;purchased at all tabac shops and some hotel front desks. Easy to use,inexpensive and can be used whenever (usually you get more minutes using from hotel or apartment as opposed to a payphone).I have a stack from various countries that I use everyweek when I am overseas for work to call home to the states (I too have an elderly mom). I use them to chat with friends,family,make doctor appointments,etc. and everyone always thinks that I am in the US as the reception is great.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 07:36 AM
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Seems this topic is second only to "Paris hotels" in popularity here.
Bottom line - you do not NEED a cell phone in Paris or anywhere else. We got by for years without them, including traveling when a family member was ill or traveling companions got separated. It IS easier having a cellphone, but it DOES cost more than other options such as calling cards.
Like StCirq, I have become accustomed to using my phone all over the world (it is a quad bad GSM on the Cingular network.) I also have an old unlocked (which means it is not restricted to use on just one network) triband that I purchased on EBay several years ago and have used in Europe and Asia with both my Cingular and local SIM cards.
As is often (usually?) the case, there is an extra expense for the convenience. If it fits your budget or if there are specific circumstances that might prevent you from enjoying yourself without the connectivity, go for it.
And even if you do have it, it's still a good idea when traveling with others (especially younger ones) to agree on contingency plan in case unintentionally separated - things like "if nothing else, we will meet at noon at XXX" or "if the metro door closes and one of us is left behind, ride to our destination and wait there on the platform."
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Old May 7th, 2007, 07:43 AM
  #13  
ira
 
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>Frankly, I can no longer imagine not being able to make and receive calls no matter where I am in the world. Same with email, which I get on my phone. Can't live without it.<

That's really too bad. It's a shame that you have to always be on call.



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Old May 7th, 2007, 07:58 AM
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I always bring my phone when I trave - but that doesn't mean that I answer it all the time.

My father has been quite sick - so if an Irish number pops up I answer it. People leave a message if its urgent and I can pick them up by land line.

I use it normally to track down my husband when either he or I have wandered off.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 08:13 AM
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hdm
 
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I never carry a cellphone, either traveling or at home. But SO has one strictly to make his mom feel better. And I think it's only fair to his sister, who takes on the responsibility of watching out for their mom while we're away. I know we can call home from our hotel or a pay phone, but they like to feel they can call us, even if we're between cities.

I don't think it's a big favour to do for them when we have the freedom to travel.

But for the most part, I agree -- I don't feel the need to be attached to a phone every minute of my life.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 08:25 AM
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I carry my quad band Cingular phone.

I left a child behind recently, so the only time I used it was to check on him -- about a 3 minute call daily. Not worth the hassle factor of getting an unlocked phone and buying a SIM card for the minimal charges.

I also felt more secure knowing if there is an emergency, I could easily be reached. Even though I left behind apartment numbers, the odds of reaching me there were slim.

Recently, a neighbor went to Florida for a week. Didn't leave behind contact information with any neighbors. They had a pipe burst over their kitchen and created a flood - the fire company was called in when their sprinklers and alarm went off. After creative measures by neighbors, they were reached and could send over a relative to deal with it. Lesson learned.

Even if you carry it, you don't have to use it. Go back to the days when cell phones were truly for emergencies! Or if you use it, track your minutes and have 1 less glass of wine or pain au chocolat or whatever to 'pay for it'.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 08:33 AM
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I only use my cell phone when traveling. It has made traveling much less stressful, especially being able to keep in touch with my husband or my daughters to make plans to meet when we are separated. I can not tell you how many arguments we used to have over when and where we thought we were meeting. No matter what the plan was, we all interpreted it differently. Totally a thing of the past now.

And text messaging? "I'm waiting for you in the lobby, security won't let me back in." Saves much frustrating lost time.

Even in department stores. No more hunting.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 08:34 AM
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I took my cell phone with me my last trip. I loved the convenience even though I didn't use it very much. I called my SO a couple of times just to check on things, and I felt better knowing I was easily reachable. Luckily, I had not problems with my phone...some poster have reported their phone didn't work when they got where there were going. I turned my phone on at CDG and it said FRANCE. I called our car service to let them know we were there and to find out where they were. So nice not having to hunt down a phone, use a card, or any of that. I noticed when were at Notre Dam I was on a different service. Can't remember what if was but it wasn't FRANCE anymore. Anyway, it was great.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 08:42 AM
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This is a very timely discussion for me. I am looking at an apartment for my next trip to Paris[but, of course, it could be anywhere] that does not have a phone.
So rather than find an internet cafe or get a phone card and look for public phones, I have been pondering this very issue of having a cell phone. I will travel solo and my husband would really worry if we couldn't talk every day or so.

this is very helpful, thanks Jazzblues
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Old May 7th, 2007, 09:56 AM
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If you have Cingular, it's really simple (and not expensive). I dropped by the Cingular store a couple of days before our trip to France. They added international service to my phone for about $5.00 for the month. It worked like a charm and I used it frequently. The monthly bill was very reasonable. After the calls are billed, I drop by the store and cancel the international service until my next trip overseas. I've done this on 4 different trips to Europe.

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