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Input please - We are seriously thinking of getting a cell phone for use on our trips.

Input please - We are seriously thinking of getting a cell phone for use on our trips.

Old May 22nd, 2005, 08:52 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 2,627
Input please - We are seriously thinking of getting a cell phone for use on our trips.

We have made quite a few trips to New York because one of our son's now lives there. This time we found it very difficult to not have the use of a cell phone. It was difficult to find a pay phone and often they refused to take our change or did not work. We ended up making quite a few calls from our hotel room at a $1 for each local call.

Everyone around us on the plane, including quite a few kids had their own cell phone. We began to feel like we were the last people in America to not have a cell phone.

So have started my research. We really don't need one at home but feel we now would use one on our various trips. It appears that we can choose between a very basic plan (300 minutes time) for about $35.00 a month or get one of those yearly phones (Verizon) and add additional minutes if needed by a phone card.

Your opinion as to what would best suit our needs. Any one else out there who travels without a cell phone?

SandyBrit is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2005, 09:23 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 611
It's really not about price per month, but the QUALITY of service - hence all the commercials regarding "bars". The more bars the better the signal. My mother cheaped out on a cell phone, I think it's one of the one's you mentioned, because she thought she did not need one. Her phone is useless, whenever she needs to make a call there is a weak or no signal. The service is terrible, I can never hear her and the calls drop out all the time, meaning the connection is lost. We live in a suburb of NYC, so that is what may happen to you.

You will be surprised, once you have the convenience of a cell phone, you will use it more than you think and you will wonder how you lived without one. You do not have to spend a lot of money as you can get a shared plan - but you do get what you pay for. What good is a cell phone that does not are just throwing your money away. Go to a store that specilizes in cell phones and speak to someone about your needs, they will help and set you up right on the spot.
Annabel is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2005, 09:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,050
Not only do most people nowadays have cell phones, but many of us have even given up our "land lines." My family members can reach me 24 hours a day, whether I'm at home or not, and my 2 teens and I all have our own phones, for about the same cost as the "land line."
Anonymous is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2005, 09:55 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 140
I've been very pleased with Verizon Wireless and their "national" plans which considers all U.S. calls as "local." Free long distance, too!
JohnNewOrleans is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2005, 10:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,019
We caved in and got a national plan after struggling with a local plan. The new one is the same rate, we kept the unused minutes, and found instantly that it was most useful.

There will be dead areas. I don't care what plan you have. Don't expect that your coverage will be 100% all the time when you are on the road in your car.

But from just about every town of any size, you should have coverage.
I find having the phone to be much better than a payphone.

I still carry a phone card just in case. For example, we are going to a house in North Carolina where the owner says it a dead zone cell phone wise. If we want to make a long distance call, I need a land line and a calling card.

So the cell phone is not 100% foolproof, but it does offer many, many useful services.
bob_brown is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2005, 11:02 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,139
After having to use a cell phone in a semi-emergency situation a few years ago while travelling, I would never be without one. The peace of mind we get especially while travelling is worth every penny. My family can get in touch with me if they need to, so I never worry about what is happening at home. Before, I would have to wait until we arrived back at the hotel to see if I had any messages. Last year we were in a place without cell phone service for a while, but my son was able to leave a message on my phone and I retrieved it when we had service again (it was not an emergency). Our phone company has a service that you can forward calls to your cell phone, so if you are expecting a call you don't have to sit at home and wait for it. I think, also, that you will use it more than you think once you get used to it.
maj is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2005, 11:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,576
I have used my Verizon Wireless National Plan all over the US in places others didn't have service. Up to this point the only place I've been without service was in Glacier National Park.
SusieQQ is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2005, 11:28 AM
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We use Cingular and have been happy with it but I can tell you that there was no service for many days after Hurricane Ivan. That was the same for Nextel too and just about every other provider. The only people I know who have service during and after the storm were Verizon customers.
Old May 22nd, 2005, 11:33 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 4,181
Go with Sprint or Verizon plan that offers "nationwide free long distance." I've been a Spring PCS customer since 1998 and have no complaints, nor do my friends who use Verizon.
Gekko is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2005, 11:34 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 17,226
I have Verizon as well. It's the only service provider that has service up in our mountains. Check the coverage maps before you decide on a service provider. The provider my company uses had great service in cities and along interstates, but little in the "boonies" where I am a lot. I did not like Nextel. I've had Cingular and Sprint as well - although as more cell towers are added service may have improved since I used those providers.

Look a map of coverage for where you live and will be traveling.
starrsville is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2005, 11:44 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 529
We got a tri-band phone for our trip to the UK (and purchased a Virgin Mobile SIM card for it while there). When we came home, we purchased a prepaid SIM card from T-Mobile so that my son could use it. It's worked great, and may be your best option. Perhaps you already have a phone that would work in both countries and all you need to do is purchase a SIM card for it. If not, just purchase a phone (we did it from a company over the internet) and then get a SIM card from T-Mobile (the only carrier that in the US that I'm aware of that uses this technology). If you purchase a phone in the US, make sure it's "unlocked." This means that it will work with different carriers.

bellairegirl is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2005, 11:48 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I just looked at the website from which we purchased our phone and you can get a similar phone for about $90. You can also get a SIM card through this site if you want. Once purchased you could switch prepaid SIM cards in it when you travel in most countries -- Italy, France, etc. and even when you're home

bellairegirl is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2005, 12:50 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 162
You're not the only person that doesn't have a cell phone. I think our society has become too enamored with them and there's virtually no privacy anywhere anymore. There should be classes for phone etiquette. However, they do have their conveniences, but at a price. I don't feel the need to have one at my ear all day, but do want one for traveling (work or vacation). I couldn't justify the cost @ about $35.00 per month, so I bought the Virgin Mobile (there are a few others) phone and pay as I go. There is good coverage (although no being from New York, I can't comment on that), and it's only $20 every 90 days. You can always get more minutes if needed. Check out their web site for more details.
MinnieNo1 is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2005, 01:44 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
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verizon supposedly has the best network in the northeast/middle atlantic. they don't have service in much of eastern kentucky and west virginia and areas like northern wisconsin.

if you don't think you'll use it much at home, the prepay minutes might work out cheaper for you. it should be pretty easy to price out the different plans.

as the others have said, you might find yourself using it more than you think at home. we don't call long distance on our land line, we use our cells. with verizon, you get unlimited minutes with other verizon customers. my dh travels much of the week and this is a godsend.

i do hate those nextel walkie talkie phones. i don't need to hear both sides of someone's conversation. one side is plenty, thank you!
lolfn is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2005, 01:56 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 262
Got rid of my landline long ago. Cable modem, and wireless card for my laptop when I travel makes telemarketing calls the only thing I miss (I mean not get, not wishing I got). No kidding, it's worth it just for that!! Costs the same as my landline too, and no long distance. I even call Sweden now and then, and have yet to see an extra charge on my monthly bill (unless they just haven't caught up with me).

Ended up with Verizon since I could not get AT&T when I moved south but had to get SunCom, which I disliked about as much as Alltel. Verizon is the only provider that gave me a good signal at home, plus my kids and it seems most of my friends are on Verizon, so calls are free to them any time. Otherwise, free evenings and week ends with a basic plan. My daughter has a "pay-as-you-go" with Verizon as well, so she buys minutes when she needs them -- no minimum. If you only use 5 minutes a month, that's what you pay for (10c a minute maybe?)

My coverage with Verizon seems about as good as any. Couldn't get a signal in Mississippi, but had no problems in the northeast at all, even in a central PA hamlet where nothing else ever worked. I would never travel in a car without one, just basic lifeline there.

Unlike some folks, who are tied to their cell phones with an umbilical cord, I don't need to turn it on when the plane lands, or make million dollar deals before takeoff. And have you ever noticed that gas station attendants live with a cell phone at their ears? Invariably.


birgator is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2005, 02:09 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 2,627
To everyone who replied:

Thanks very much. You have all given me a lot to think about and much needed good advice. I will sort it all through and determine what is best for us.

Again, thank you very very much. You are the best.

SandyBrit is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2005, 02:26 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 2,484
Narrow your search to a handful of companies. Then call each company to ask if they serve the areas where you suspect you will get most use of your phone. For instance, my mother lives with me in the DC 'burbs but travels to her home in an 'off the beaten path' part of Georgia. Of all the companies we called and despite what store representatives told us, Verizon was the only one that provided outgoing service in that area even though all the others are called 'nationwide service.' We can call that area from DC using each service, but placing calls FROM that area TO other parts of the country was a different story. Actually, nationwide service usually means (in my experience) call anywhere in the nation from your local area; subject yourself to the whims of the phone company when you travel. Just my observation when conducting a search similar to yours.
pollyvw is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2005, 03:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,527
I also have Verizon and it is great for us in So Cal. However, my son who live on Oahu has very poor service there. As my family all have Verizon, we all call each other at no cost, even to Hawaii!

pollyvw makes a good point that nationwide coverage is when you make calls from your lcal area. When you travel outside you local area, you often pay roaming charges which can be high.
Barbara is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2005, 04:16 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 3,025
I'm also another holdout.

If I have to make any long distance calls, I use prepaid cards from Costco or Sam's Club at $.03/minute.
dusty56438 is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2005, 05:09 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,380
Check into Tracfone. I've had one for several years, and got a second one a couple of years ago. Runs us about $100/year per phone. It's not for everybody, but has worked quite well for us.
bookhall is offline  

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