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International Cell Phones

#1
I'm planning my camino about a year in advanced. I told my family that I plan on doing this solo, and almost instantly they started to stress out. I know that having an international cell phone would ease some of the stress, since they would have direct access to me whenever they wanted. And while that might cheapen some of the camino experience, i know that the trade-off's are worth it.

So i'm curious to know if anyone has experience with a good international mobile service on the camino? It would have to reach the Unite States for me.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#2
If you have an unlocked GSM cell phone, all you need is a SIM chip. I have had good experience with Vodafone. The chip is about 5Euro and comes with 5Euro of time on it. International calling can be expensive unless you buy a separate dialing card, many of which are scams. Incoming calls are free, and text messages are very inexpensive, about 25 cents each, so limit your actual usage, and you can be reached in an emergency quite easily.

I use a Vodafone data chip for my unlocked iPhone, and internet access is affordable if you stay away from streaming and other high band width usage. It cost me about 10 Euro per week for using it for email, news, and map searches.
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-Santiago-Finistera-Muxia. April/May 2012
Sarria-Santiago Sept. 2013
SJPP - Almost Orrison April 2014
#3
My advice for what its worth., buy a smart phone, that covers camera, email, texts, skype, viber etc. I would recommend the Samsung Galaxy S2 because you can fit an SD card and they are a great phone. Get a Spanish sim when you get there, (pay as you go) My brother (from Australia) who was on the camino with me bought a "low cost" International sim and every time he rang home he got a text afterwards saying that he had been topped up by $25.00 It was a total rip off. It had a 0037 prefix and was supposed to be the cheapest way to go.
 
#5
Im bringing a nookcolor tablet, which will allow me free internet access...email, facebook, shuterfly etc. Illalso be carrying a spot gps tracker so i can be tracked. IF i need to call home ill use a local phone and a card.
Having said that, i will do my best to remain incomunicato. Part of the preparation of doing my camino is asking myself why im doing it. Im finding the answer a little daunting to say the lest. What i do know so far is the tether that i hold onto so tightly with both hands is actually holding me. So, at the time of my camino in sept maybe ill forse myself to let go and see if the wold still exists if im unplugged.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#6
SIM 'Gatuita' with free international calls

And if you recharge € 10 or more:

Take 30 min. Free month to call mobile and fixed any country, 24 hours (including call set), keeping the entire balance of your charge for what you want.
For domestic calls, the price will be 20 Cent. / Min plus 15 cents for call establishment.
Vodafone offer
 
#7
I know that having an international cell phone would ease some of the stress, since they would have direct access to me whenever they wanted. And while that might cheapen some of the camino experience, i know that the trade-off's are worth it.
Red Beard, It is always nice to know you are loved and have people concerned about you .... I do not understand how having a cell phone cheapens the Camino experience? In this day and age it will be hard to find anyone not carrying a cell phone or making calls from land-lines whilst walking on the camino in spite of efforts and strident noises from the very few remaining anti-techno people who want you to follow what they deem to be a "traditional" (whatever it means) Camino.

calling internationally from a cell phone is crazy unless you have an international plan. better to just use skype
Vagabodette has a point, you can also use facetime if you and your folks have iPhones or iPads or Macs for free voice and video calls.

I would recommend the Samsung Galaxy S2 because you can fit an SD card and they are a great phone. Get a Spanish sim when you get there, (pay as you go
wayfarer has given sound advise on getting a Spanish sim card when you get there, also note that the sale of International Sim cards to overseas buyers can be an expensive scam. Read the blogs and get advise from a phone guru Evan Low who just completed a recent Camino and posted more than 250 blogs with beautiful pictures. Evan used an iPhone with a Spanish Sim, but other smartphones are just a useful with a Spanish Sim, perhaps more versatile and less locked to Apple, as you can add external storage, transfer photos directly from a camera SD card; you can carry a spare battery which saves you hunting for a charging point should your battery run out of power when you use a none-Apple product, etc. All smartphones have GPS which tells you where to go: it can pinpoint exactly where you are and also transmits the location to anyone looking for you, apart from a multitude of other tricks it can do.

Finally it is your own Camino, this is a wonderful forum from Ivar, but you should be aware that any free unmonitored unregulated forum brings in all sorts of views, do not start looking over your shoulders and start feeling guilty even before you start. Enjoy the Camino, and have a good one.
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-Santiago-Finistera-Muxia. April/May 2012
Sarria-Santiago Sept. 2013
SJPP - Almost Orrison April 2014
#8
JALAN JAUH said:
Finally it is your own Camino, this is a wonderful forum from Ivar, but you should be aware that any free unmonitored unregulated forum brings in all sorts of views, do not start looking over your shoulders and start feeling guilty even before you start. Enjoy the Camino, and have a good one.
Well said Jalan. This sums it up in a nutshell.
 
#9
Much sound advice given here, its very much appreciated.

By cheapen the experience, i simply meant that it might dull the experience of being somewhere else in the world. For me, when i travel i enjoy the feeling of being completely un-tethered from life at home. But in this day and age, i can't expect to have that as much, especially while traveling for 40 days at a time.

All the advice is much appreciated from everybody, thank you :)
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
#10
It can be hard to find a phone store where they speak English and don't have an hour wait to talk to someone..You can get an unlocked gsm phone on ebay for $12 and a SIM from Maxroam.com or Vodaphone online for about the same. It works, and you have reasonalbly priced phone access from the minute you land. (11cents a minute incoming calls)

If you plan on talking a lot, spend the time and effort for a local sim, or smart phone skype set up. but if you just want to be in contact, the above route will get you going
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#11
Vodafone in Pamplona and Burgos have had English-speaking clerks every time I have visited them (four times in Pamplona, twice in Burgos).
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Sept. 14 - Oct. 18 (2012); Finisterre/Muxia April (2016)
#12
Are the Vodafone stores easy to find in Pamplona?

Ellen
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#13
Pamplona Vodafone is easy to find. It is a block from the bullring on the street that leads to it! I has the usual Spanish hours, which means closed on Sunday and Saturday afternoon.
 

mmm042

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VDLP 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014
#14
Hi.

I'm not sure how extensively you'd like to talk/communicate with your family, but when I was going to be gone for 3 weeks on the Camino, I discovered that through my carrier, ATT, I can always receive free text messages from my family (we have a family plan, as most families do), even if I'm overseas. To be able to send texts as well, I purchased a $10 plan that gave me 60 text messages. That worked great for me. My hubby and kids texted me as much as they wanted, and I was able to send one or two messages every day. ATT also offers some inexpensive plans for international calls, and I bought that as well, although for emergency purposes -- I rarely called home.

Melanie
 

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