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Sim Card vs Cell plan for 9 days in Paris

Sim Card vs Cell plan for 9 days in Paris

Old Aug 28th, 2017, 12:43 PM
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Sim Card vs Cell plan for 9 days in Paris

I have to preface this with stating that I am technically challenged and have researched this online but am still confused. My husband and I are going to Paris for 9 days and currently use Verizon iphones. We both have whats app installed for messaging and calls and will have google maps downloaded for offline use. When not on wifi I am using data when using whatsapp, correct?

We will do very limited calling to the US and some texting (maybe 10 a day) and will save data intensive photo sharing etc until we are in our apartment with wifi in the evenings. We can each buy $25 verizon plan with 100MB data allowance which would make life easy (talk, text and data is pay as you go though). When using whatsapp for calls and texts though we would be using data, right?

I am sorry for the basic questions. It seems to me that the Orange Holiday sim card plan at $39euros for each phone might be as good as just doing the verizon monthly plan. Thanks for any suggestions.
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Old Aug 28th, 2017, 01:00 PM
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Yes, when you are not on WiFi, WhatsApp uses mobile data - so you would be using up some of your tiny 100MB data allowance. But, it probably doesn't use much. Text messages use only a very tiny bit of data, unless you text pictures to people. Simple text alone consumes almost nothing.

The benefit of having more than a tiny 100MB of data for 9 days (e.g. buy a French SIM card) is that you can use things like Google Maps on the fly without worrying about using up your data. I find Google Maps essential now for navigating cities especially; it gives me on-the-spot walking directions and public transit directions. ("What's the best way to get to the Eiffel Tower from here?" "Walk this way to the RER stop; take this RER train four stops; get off at this other stop; walk 500 meters to destination this way.") You can't get that by downloading Google Maps "offline" - in fact, Google Maps offline is really good only for driving directions, not walking or transit directions. If you won't be renting a car, Google Maps offline is of very limited use.

If you buy the Orange Holiday SIM (or some other SIM), one downside is that you won't be able to receive calls on your Verizon numbers - those only work with your Verizon SIM cards in place. If both of you get SIM cards for your phones, you'll still be able to "call" each other with WhatsApp on your SIM's mobile data, though. If you want to make phone calls home to the US, on WiFi or on mobile data, even to landlines, install the Google Hangouts app. (I don't think WhatsApp allows calls to landlines e.g. to your airline or a credit card company). Same thing with texting: you won't be able to receive texts on your Verizon number with the Orange SIM in place of your Verizon SIM.

But, you can always tell people who need to reach you (and aren't on WhatsApp) to email you - and you can call them back with Google Hangouts. Just remember when calling people in the US with Hangouts to add the "+1" prefix in front of the US phone number.
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Old Aug 28th, 2017, 01:02 PM
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(Sorry: forgot to add: WhatsApp VOICE CALLS do eat up a considerable amount of data. If it's comparable to Google Hangouts, it will use about 2MB a minute, and when not on WiFi that will go against your Verizon data 100MB limit, unless you buy the French SIM. But WhatsApp texts should consume very little data.)
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Old Aug 28th, 2017, 02:37 PM
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Thank you so much for educating me on the use of data, etc. Ok, I think the thing to do is for each of us to buy the sim card, share the new number with the people who may need to contact us and to use whatsapp for text most of the time. I was not aware that the google offline maps would not help us with walking/metro directions so that was an important piece of information. I appreciate your time responding.
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Old Aug 28th, 2017, 03:05 PM
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Another great app if you have working data in Paris is Citymapper. It is almost like having someone drag you by the hand through the metro. It is particularly useful combining the extensive bus system with the metro and RER. With it and gps working on the bus it knows where you are and tells you when you should get off the bus to reach your destination.

It is also great to both have working data on your phones so that if you get separated in the metro or other crowd situations you can find each other easily.
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Old Aug 28th, 2017, 03:08 PM
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Remember that the French SIM card will give you a French phone number - so anyone trying to call you from home on it will have to make an international call. I have a Google Voice phone number that works with Google Hangouts, so I am able to receive regular phone calls in Europe from people in the US. Just getting Google Hangouts (without Google Voice) lets you call phones but not let people call you, at least with a phone number.
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Old Aug 28th, 2017, 03:22 PM
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sis2001:
Or, you could rent a wi-fi hot spot locally from Travel Wi-fi Paris for E99 as I did when I was in Paris/Normandy for nine days this past May. I arranged this rental by email a few weeks before departing for Paris and the packet was at my hotel when I arrived with a post paid envelope enclosed for return on my departure.

I turned off the data and roaming on my iphone and communicated using Skype, texting and email in order to keep in daily touch with family, but made no direct phone calls. I charged the unit each night. Preferring the old fashioned maps to get around, I recommend specifically Knopf Map Guides PARIS, a small book with easy to follow foldout maps of each arrondissement, metro info, museum, shopping and restaurant recommendations.

The wi-fi hot spot worked beautifully for me. It's the size of a thick credit card and both you and your spouse can sign on to it.
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Old Aug 28th, 2017, 03:59 PM
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One problem with a WiFi hotspot for two people who might want to wander in separate directions occasionally: only one of them can carry the hotspot so the two can't contact each other. ("Where are you? I walked a bit further up than I thought!") And it seems more expensive than buying two SIM cards in Paris, anyway.

I guess these hotspots can still work for some people, but they seem a bit impractical to me these days, when it's cheap just to buy an unlocked phone (if you don't have one) and buy your own SIM.
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Old Aug 28th, 2017, 04:30 PM
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I agree that you are paying for convenience with the hotspot. I wouldn't do it either, but it might work if you are as you say "tech challenged".

I think the Orange sim is expensive as well. If it were me and you were staying in Paris, I would try the Free (yes, that is the name of the network) sim which is 20 euros. It seems to be a great deal if your phone can connect there in 4g LTE, not as good, but probably good enough in 3g (they limit you to 3gb in 3g).
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Old Aug 28th, 2017, 05:42 PM
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I travel solo so that's primarily why the wi-fi hot spot worked well for me. Plus, admittedly, I'm technically challenged. If two sharers of a hot spot were to separate, the one without could stop in at any of the many cafes offering wi-fi, sign on and communicate their whereabouts.

Also, I didn't want to deal with SIM card, different phone number, etc. AT&T is my children's carrier and they sign on to the temporary international plan at $10 a day which works for them. Understand T-Mobile also has a good international option. Alas, my senior citizen friendly carrier does not offer the choice.

Bottom line: my kids were relieved to know they could contact me daily and know I was okay.

Don't mean to hijack, just offering my personal experience.
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Old Aug 29th, 2017, 05:20 AM
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The cell plan provided by Verizon is not very expensive. It was cheaper than having to go through all the hassle of a SIM card. I think our bill increased by a few dollars.
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Old Aug 29th, 2017, 07:00 AM
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Verizon has a few international roaming plans, none of which is particularly "cheap" for what you get: a $25/month plan which gives only 100mb of data (very little), $1.79/minute calls, and 50 cents per text; $40/month for 100mb, 100 minutes, and 100 sent texts, or $10/day "unlimited" (use your plan's allowances), with the $10 charged only the days you use the phone. The $10/day plan makes more sense for a short trip ($90 per phone for the OP's 9 day trip isn't outrageously expensive but not cheap, either).

Because there are ways to get a SIM installed in your phone before you even leave for vacation, I don't see why it's such a big hassle these days. The biggest issue with buying another SIM is that you can't make/receive calls on your Verizon number while using that SIM. And there are some tricks to make that kind of work too if you really want to. Get someone more techy than you to help you set up a SIM before you leave on your trip if you need to.
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Old Aug 29th, 2017, 09:12 AM
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For $25 or so you can buy a cheapo unlocked cell phone that holds 2, 3, or even 4 SIM cards these days on Amazon or E-Bay. You can then get your US phone calls if necessary on your US SIM and also have a French SIM with a French number. It will cost very little to use a SIM card in France for such a short period (I pay about10 euros a month for plenty of service). Orange is not the only carrier; there is FREE, Bouygues, SFR, and others. Only one of you would need such a phone to receive calls from the USA.

But maybe it will just be easier for you to choose one of the more expensive options. Renting a wifi hotspot for me would be by far the least attractive of the many options these days, and the most costly.
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Old Aug 29th, 2017, 10:15 PM
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If you want to use Google Maps before you go, print out whatever you want to see at home.
Or, buy a good map - "L'Indispensable" has all the streets in Paris, monuments, Metro and bus maps. About 6 EU at newsstands.
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