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Phones and the Frances

KFH

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
^
Can you please give me basic advice on using a phone on our CF trip in 2023?

Background: I've traveled to various foreign (meaning outside of USA) countries quite a bit over the last couple decades (although not the last few years).

But I've never once brought my phone with me on those trips and I've never purchased a temporary phone anywhere. I've seen the stands in the airport and I think but am not sure that some US phone companies have some sort of travel plan so you can use your own phone.

I'm just not a big phone person and I enjoy just leaving it all at home and not worrying about whatever, and stick to checking my email at the hotel etc.

But this CF trip next year, it is imperative that I keep in touch with family while I'm gone, at least every few days, more than that if it's doable.

The problem is, I am kind of ignorant about phones because I don't place a lot of importance on them. I have a smart phone (if they are still called that)-- android type. Beyond that I know almost nothing. I know how to call, text, and take pictures and can check my email and have used a few apps.

Can you give me a rundown on options and how to set myself up to be able to call or text home? I mean step-by-step. If you use acronyms or abbreviations there is a good chance I won't know what you are talking about. I would say talk to me like I'm twelve but your twelve year old likely knows more about phones than I do.

Also-a relative told me about WhatsApp where you can talk on video to each other. I've downloaded it but have yet to use it. If this can be used on the Camino to talk back home please walk me through how.

Please note: I included Camino Frances in this specifically because that's where we will be. We are not yet sure if we will be arriving in France or Spain but we will be going to SJPP and across to SDC.

Thank you for your help and patience.
 
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K_Lynn

Buen Camino!
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2021
You can pick up a sim card at your point of entry in Spain (Orange/Vodaphone/etc) for about 20 Euros per month for local calls and data. You can just use your phone normally and incur their roaming fees/international usage which isn't horrific for Americans as I believe most have a $100 cap on billing, unlike Canadian providers that have a $300 cap (fml). Or leave your phone on airplane mode and use the wifi in bars/cafes/albergues/hotels via What'sApp, Facebook Messenger or other apps. I roamed on my phone until I got to Pamplona and picked up a sim there, my only issue was that I could not pay for my next months usage online as it would not take my foreign CC so I had to find a physical store for that.

This link should help in figuring it all out for WhatsApp . https://faq.whatsapp.com/785056755306362/?cms_platform=android&locale=en_US
Many albergues/posadas use whats app for bookings etc so it is useful.
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, Portuguese, Aragon, Norte, SJWayUK, Nive
You can purchase a sim for $20-$30usd in Europe or by mail before going, but it’s not necessary unless you want 24/7 availability. Your phone may even be able to take advantage of an “eSIM” which means downloading software and never even swapping out your current card.

WiFi is generally free throughout the CF, but often slow due to multiple people trying to use it at the same time. If you stay in hotels/similar, it’ll be less of a problem.

Different USA phone companies have different plans, but mine (Verizon) is $10 per day without a maximum cap. T-Mobile once had free international roaming, but you’d have to check if your specific plan does.

WhatsApp, FaceTime, Viber, Zoom, etc have free or super-discounted ways to call or video chat via wifi - you can test them all out at home and see what works best for you.

I’ve walked with and without cell service and think there are arguments either way. What is best for you depends on too many factors for us all to simply guess at (booking ahead? Comfortable with Spanish? Etc). As for explicit instructions on adding and using each app, that’s better done one-on-one with someone you know or even a forum member you don’t (happen to help if you DM me)

Buen Camino!
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
We do use WhatsApp a lot.
We use it mainly over wifi, but you can use it with data, too.
The other person must also have Whatsapp downloaded to the phone you are calling.
Here's a site with tutorials for how to use it. It can also be useful to call ahead for a bed.
"How to use WhatsApp: A step-by-step beginner's guide - Android Authority" https://www.androidauthority.com/how-to-use-whatsapp-1097088/
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
First, you should contact your cellular service provider and ask what the options they have for international travel. Hopefully they have a store with knowledgeable employees who can help you in person.
Second, identify which apps will be useful, such as WhatsApp which is widely used all over Spain, and you can make free calls, texts, and video calls home.
Third, practice using the apps at home.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
You can probably just take your phone along and continue to use it in Spain, but it might be VERY expensive. That is where @trecile 's first advice comes in - ask your US service provider what plans they have for international travel. That might meet your needs and be the most convenient solution. Perhaps their website would be the place to start looking for "international travel plans", and then you might want to follow up with a personal conversation.

You should be aware that "data" (browsing, downloading from or uploading to the internet, emails, messenger, etc) is measured differently from phone talking time - just like at home. So you need to ask your service provider about both.

You will want to understand how to control your data usage on your phone, depending on what amount of data you get with your plan.

The alternatives can get quite complicated, so I don't think we can outline them all to you. It would take a few text books! Perhaps after you have a discussion with your cell service provider, you can come back on the forum and ask more focused questions to help you evaluate the options that they offer.
 

ortemio

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances,14,
Frances,15
Madrid,15
Salvador,15
VdlP,Sanabres
Porto,16
Levante,17
Mozarabe,18
Norte,19
I have been using Google-Fi for a few years. In the camino it works with no issues. I get my US calls as well as internet with no drops. And I have done a few caminos!
The rates are the lowest as they are the same as the US rates, no change! If you are doing the Portugues it is nice to step out of the plane and have GPS and phone w/o havin to freak out because you don't speak the language... ;--)

( google-fi Plans have changed over the last few years, need to check for current rates )
 
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Zordmot

3rd CF in May 2022
Time of past OR future Camino
April-May 2022
I’ve been to Spain 4 times and each time have learned more about phones. This last visit was very satisfactory. OK, this is what I do :

When you get to Spain, go to an Orange store and buy a SIM card there and buy a Pay-As-You-Go plan for 20-30 Euros. You will have a Spain phone number. They will install it in your phone and make sure it is working . The plan gets you phone and internet service much much cheaper than your US plan. I also recommend downloading WhatsApp. It’s a free service. Get your family members to do the same. EVERYONE in the world knows and uses Whatsapp—except for Americans. With Orange on your phone you can go to any Tobaco shop anywhere and buy more service if you need it. I highly recommend going to an Orange store rather than buying a SIM card online—I have had nothing but bad luck with those SIM cards. Go to an Orange store. All cities in Spain have them. When you’re ready to go home, just pop out the Orange SIM card and replace the one from your carrier back home.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
KFH, things are going to get confusing if you don't give us more information about your phone and your current network provider. With this information we can avoid doing things like talking about eSIMs if your phone can't use one (we have threads about them but don't go there yet). For some of the information we would like to know you will have to contact your network provider. I hope there is a store near you where can go with the phone so they can look at settings and such to save you the work of doing it yourself.

I would like to know these things:

Your provider (Verizon, T-mobile, etc.).
Whether your phone is unlocked or not (forget what that means right now, just ask).
The name of the plan your provider has you on.
The international plan also if that is separate.
The brand of the phone you have and its model (e.g., Samsung Galaxy S10).
Also ask if it has eSIM capability (again, forget what that means right now).

Thanksgiving is here but I may not be for a few days but you might not be able to get the information either because of it.
 
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HolaKaren

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2022
Can you please give me basic advice on using a phone on our CF trip in 2023?

Background: I've traveled to various foreign (meaning outside of USA) countries quite a bit over the last couple decades (although not the last few years).

But I've never once brought my phone with me on those trips and I've never purchased a temporary phone anywhere. I've seen the stands in the airport and I think but am not sure that some US phone companies have some sort of travel plan so you can use your own phone.

I'm just not a big phone person and I enjoy just leaving it all at home and not worrying about whatever, and stick to checking my email at the hotel etc.

But this CF trip next year, it is imperative that I keep in touch with family while I'm gone, at least every few days, more than that if it's doable.

The problem is, I am kind of ignorant about phones because I don't place a lot of importance on them. I have a smart phone (if they are still called that)-- android type. Beyond that I know almost nothing. I know how to call, text, and take pictures and can check my email and have used a few apps.

Can you give me a rundown on options and how to set myself up to be able to call or text home? I mean step-by-step. If you use acronyms or abbreviations there is a good chance I won't know what you are talking about. I would say talk to me like I'm twelve but your twelve year old likely knows more about phones than I do.

Also-a relative told me about WhatsApp where you can talk on video to each other. I've downloaded it but have yet to use it. If this can be used on the Camino to talk back home please walk me through how.

Please note: I included Camino Frances in this specifically because that's where we will be. We are not yet sure if we will be arriving in France or Spain but we will be going to SJPP and across to SDC.

Thank you for your help and patience.
As one poster noted, we would need more info about your current phone and current cell provider in order to give you step-by-step instructions. However, I'd still like to share with you my experience on my recent camino (frances).

I used my Verizon daily international service for a few days while I was in France. At 10 bucks a day, it was very pricey but I felt I wanted the backup in case I couldn't get wifi. After that, I bought a Movestar SIM card, got a Spanish number, and set up WhatsApp with that. However, renewing it was impossible as Movestar wouldn't accept my credit card online or on the phone. (It was a physical SIM.) A friend had told me about Airalo at the beginning of my camino, and I switched to that for the last few weeks of my camino.

If I had to do it all over again, I would chose to use Airalo and skip the physical Spanish SIM card. Installation required a bit of help, but it was very easy to renew online. It isn't the cheapest solution, but for me it was the easiest to use and renew.

Oh, and ditto what everyone says about WhatsApp. Why Americans don't use it more is beyond me.

Buen Camino!
 
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Valarie Griep

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portuguese (2016, 2017) Frances (2018, 2019)
I have been using Google-Fi for a few years. In the camino it works with no issues. I get my US calls as well as internet with no drops. And I have done a few caminos!
The rates are the lowest as they are the same as the US rates, no change! If you are doing the Portugues it is nice to step out of the plane and have GPS and phone w/o havin to freak out because you don't speak the language... ;--)

( google-fi Plans have changed over the last few years, need to check for current rates )
I have Google Fi also and it works seamlessly in Europe. Cost is reasonable too. I switch to the international plan just before I go over there and when I return home I switch it back to my normal Google Fi plan again. No Sim card needed, no hassle. The international plan has unlimited data and texts also.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
I carry an iPhone SE. It is small and was reasonably priced. I have A LOT of apps on it and they are very lightweight. I also have a lot of unread books on the Kindle App. For just in case when I get stuck somewhere. (Like Madrid for 10 days in April with Covid.) My Kindle app also has some great guide books on it. The phone takes good photos. But where the smartphone shines for me is keeping in touch with friends and family through email and Whatsapp and making accommodations -- reserving rooms or changing planes if necessary. When I had to self isolate with Covid I used my AirBnB app to get a studio apartment with kitchen facilities and I also needed the phone to access the smart lock on the door. I wasn't sick at all but pretty stressed about my reversal of fortune. Without that phone I would have been "lost."

I just ask my local provider to put me on international calling before I leave for Spain. On the Camino I just try to spend 30 minutes each evening updating my family on my day's progress, sights seen and new amigos made. And no more than 15 minutes in the morning catching up on US news. Rest of my free time is for sharing with other pilgrims or local folks, people watching in the plaza, cathedral gazing. Buen Camino
 

1elantra

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
way of St James
We do use WhatsApp a lot.
We use it mainly over wifi, but you can use it with data, too.
The other person must also have Whatsapp downloaded to the phone you are calling.
Here's a site with tutorials for how to use it. It can also be useful to call ahead for a bed.
"How to use WhatsApp: A step-by-step beginner's guide - Android Authority" https://www.androidauthority.com/how-to-use-whatsapp-1097088/
Ive tried to rely on Whatsapp for several O/T in differant countries. Must say Ive never been successful in being able to use it as its always asked for the number to be in your contacts, which at times has left me unable to stay in touch or call any businesses. Obviously doing something wrong, any tips
 
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Zordmot

3rd CF in May 2022
Time of past OR future Camino
April-May 2022
Ive tried to rely on Whatsapp for several O/T in differant countries. Must say Ive never been successful in being able to use it as its always asked for the number to be in your contacts, which at times has left me unable to stay in touch or call any businesses. Obviously doing something wrong, any tips
Hang in there, it’s worth it!

Yes, you need to enter the person and their phone number you wish to call in your Contacts. Also if you’re calling the US you need to enter the country code of +1 before the number. (My otherwise gifted iphone 11requires me to turn it off after I enter a new contact. The guy at the Apple store called that “a special feature “!!)

Country codes

Spain +34
Portugal +351
France +33
 

1elantra

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
way of St James
Hang in there, it’s worth it!

Yes, you need to enter the person and their phone number you wish to call in your Contacts. Also if you’re calling the US you need to enter the country code of +1 before the number. (My otherwise gifted iphone 11requires me to turn it off after I enter a new contact. The guy at the Apple store called that “a special feature “!!)

Country codes

Spain +34
Portugal +351
France +33
Oh thanks for that. I was attempting to use it like normal app, as wasnt keen on adding all these random numbers. So if trying to call around for accomm etc, I need to add every hotel etc before calling them. Mmmm long winded. In saying that, if thats what it takes to be able to use it, Ill add them and thanks.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Oh thanks for that. I was attempting to use it like normal app, as wasnt keen on adding all these random numbers. So if trying to call around for accomm etc, I need to add every hotel etc before calling them. Mmmm long winded. In saying that, if thats what it takes to be able to use it, Ill add them and thanks.
The advantage of having them in your contacts is that if they call or message you back you immediately know which place it is that's trying to contact you.

Before I left for Portugal this year I entered the contact info for places I was planning or considering staying at into my Google contacts on my computer. I made a note in the contact info as to where each place was located. This all transfered over to my contacts on my phone, and subsequently to WhatsApp.
 

Tincatinker

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2012
Oh thanks for that. I was attempting to use it like normal app, as wasnt keen on adding all these random numbers. So if trying to call around for accomm etc, I need to add every hotel etc before calling them. Mmmm long winded. In saying that, if thats what it takes to be able to use it, Ill add them and thanks.
Not strictly so. If you are just phoning round and have sufficient Spanish there’s no need for Watsup. If you’re trying to message places, especially small places without a permanently staffed reception, then the app works well. Provided you have done all that one finger typing in your contacts page 👌
 

Zordmot

3rd CF in May 2022
Time of past OR future Camino
April-May 2022
Oh thanks for that. I was attempting to use it like normal app, as wasnt keen on adding all these random numbers. So if trying to call around for accomm etc, I need to add every hotel etc before calling them. Mmmm long winded. In saying that, if thats what it takes to be able to use it, Ill add them and thanks.
Yeah, I really hated it at first as a silly unnecessary step but I’ve become used to it over time. And remember if you have a local SIM card you can just use your phone to make that call for free or next to nothing and just dial it up
 
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jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2021, Norte/Primitivo 2022, VF 2023
I am from the US and I always just add international calling/texts/data to my plan from home. In previous years I was able to give them my dates of travel and pay for a plan that simply covered all the dates in that time period. Now though - they do it where you pay by the day up to 10 days/month (and then use after the 10 days does not add extra cost). Both ways ended up costing about the same. It is expensive - but it is the easiest way to stay in contact with people from home without having to give them a new phone number while you travel (as you would using a foreign SIM). I do keep my phone off or in airplane mode when not needed, so people can't just call me and interrupt me whenever. But I turn it on when I want to call home or check for messages from my family. My cell service from home works great almost everywhere I have tried to use it in Europe. I had no issues in Spain. I have ATT.

To supplement - I also use "Whatsapp", like your relative recommended, and if you are connected to wifi, you can make free wifi calls to anyone who also has Whatsapp. That is perfect for communicating with fellow pilgrims and albergues while on the trail. Can also be used to communicate with people from home too - but again - they must have Whatsapp. I had my 3 kids install it, but my husband isn't tech savy and I decided it was easier just to call him the old fashioned cell phone way. Anyhow - most pilgrims do end up downloading Whatsapp.

You can do your Camino without a phone, but I think having it is very convenient. Especially a smart phone. I use it to store my Camino books and apps. I use it to research directions when navigating cities (to find the post office or the train station or whatever). I use the Camino map apps for those few times when I can't find an arrow or I am sure I missed a turn. I use it to make reservations via booking.com, emailing an albergue, or calling an albergue. I use google translate when trying to figure out what I want to eat on the menu. I have even used it to communicate with albergue hosts or someone taking my food order, or even to have a conversation with someone with whom I don't share a common language.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
In Spain, I found most smaller places and albergues were more likely to respond on WhatsApp to a text, email, or sometimes even a call. (Hospitaleros are often too busy to answer the phone, but can respond back on WhatsApp when they are free.) If you need to, you craft your message in Google Translate, translate it to Spanish, and then paste it in to the message box. Sometimes the establishment profile will even say to contact them on WhatsApp. Also used WhatsApp to keep track of and communicate with other pilgrims or hospitaleros we knew.

I also used AirBNB and Booking.com Apps in my pilgrim and tourist travels in Spain and sometimes you will get messages from the host on these apps asking you for your details so that you can be checked in more quickly when you arrive. I used to be very against taking my phone with me on the Camino, but am glad I did the last few times. Having an App with a map or having the ability to look something up (like nearest grocery store, etc.) has proved very useful. I also used it to find buses or bus stops, train schedules, buy tickets, etc.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
. I used to be very against taking my phone with me on the Camino, but am glad I did the last few times. Having an App with a map or having the ability to look something up (like nearest grocery store, etc.) has proved very useful. I also used it to find buses or bus stops, train schedules, buy tickets, etc.
Yes, just bcause you carry your phone on the Camino doesn't mean you must be "glued" to it all day long. I have learned while away how important/valuable it has been to me, and I will never choose to leave it home.
 

dick bird

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
Minor point, it's good to have a Spanish SIM card because it comes with a Spanish number. If the recipient sees a foreign number, they will assume it is a scam and not answer. Whatsapp will still keep working with your original number. Any one of the mobile providers at the airport (Orange, Movistar, Vodafone et al) will be staffed with helpful assistants with excellent English speaking skills accustomed to dealing with non-techies like us. Buen camino.
 

jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2021, Norte/Primitivo 2022, VF 2023
Yes, just bcause you carry your phone on the Camino doesn't mean you must be "glued" to it all day long. I have learned while away how important/valuable it has been to me, and I will never choose to leave it home.
This is definitely true. You are only as attached to your phone as you allow yourself to be!

Every evening, I charge my phone then I make sure my phone is TURNED OFF before I go to sleep. Why? I don't want to accidentally have someone call from the US and wake everyone up. Sure - I can turn my phone on silence, but what if I forget to put it on silence? So - I keep it simple and turn it off. Bonus? My battery doesn't drain at all while I sleep.

During the day, I don't turn it on until I need (or want) it on. May be because I want to look something up, check my messages, I need GPS or directions, or because I want to call my family. Then I keep it on airplane mode when not in use or being used frequently.

It is liberating to have my phone off or on airplane mode!
 
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trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Provided you have done all that one finger typing in your contacts page 👌
That's why I enter as many as possible from home on my computer. 😉
In Spain, I found most smaller places and albergues were more likely to respond on WhatsApp to a text, email, or sometimes even a call. (Hospitaleros are often too busy to answer the phone, but can respond back on WhatsApp when they are free.)
Being able to send a text message is one of the big advantages of WhatsApp. Plus you can translate your messages and/or the responses
Minor point, it's good to have a Spanish SIM card because it comes with a Spanish number. If the recipient sees a foreign number, they will assume it is a scam and not answer.
Again, that's a benefit of WhatsApp calling - the albergue or wherever you call is more apt to answer the call (at least in my experience), and if they don't you can send a text message via WhatsApp.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Every evening, I charge my phone then I make sure my phone is TURNED OFF before I go to sleep. Why? I don't want to accidentally have someone call from the US and wake everyone up. Sure - I can turn my phone on silence, but what if I forget to put it on silence? So - I keep it simple and turn it off. Bonus? My battery doesn't drain at all while I sleep.
The do not disturb/silent feature is on a schedule on my phone, so I don't have to remember to silence it. I do keep mine on all night because I use it to listen to podcasts/drown out snorers and bag rustlers with earbuds.
 

Sirage

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Le Puy to Santiago 2005 and a few more since
In case someone missed this, Airalo provides an eSIM.
This thread I noticed sidestepped eSIMs, which are covered elsewhere.

A level of difficulty wisely avoided unless necessary, perhaps.
 

Richard Smith

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2016
Kumano Kodo 2014
I’ve been to Spain 4 times and each time have learned more about phones. This last visit was very satisfactory. OK, this is what I do :

When you get to Spain, go to an Orange store and buy a SIM card there and buy a Pay-As-You-Go plan for 20-30 Euros. You will have a Spain phone number. They will install it in your phone and make sure it is working . The plan gets you phone and internet service much much cheaper than your US plan. I also recommend downloading WhatsApp. It’s a free service. Get your family members to do the same. EVERYONE in the world knows and uses Whatsapp—except for Americans. With Orange on your phone you can go to any Tobaco shop anywhere and buy more service if you need it. I highly recommend going to an Orange store rather than buying a SIM card online—I have had nothing but bad luck with those SIM cards. Go to an Orange store. All cities in Spain have them. When you’re ready to go home, just pop out the Orange SIM card and replace the one from your carrier back home.
Note that Orange France and Orange Spain are different companies and the scratchie phone top ups in one country do not extend your service in the other (or at least this was so in 2016). Online recharge does work but we just bought another orange sim as it was as cheap as the top up.
Btw this only works if your phone is not “locked” to your service provider.
 
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pepi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Last: Sept 2022
next 🤷
WhatsApp, A lone voice in the desert
As the referrals to WhatsApp on this thread are omnipresent, I wonder if it is realized that using this app from the META conglomerate where Facebook, Instagram, etc. come from, data is sucked out of your phone and not only shared within META. In Switzerland as in many other countries, for example, WhatsApp is banned by governmental agencies including the Army, as it is considered unsafe.
Yes, it is a very convenient app and it's free of charge because its intent is to gain access to as many users as possible in order to obtain a maximum of data. Using it, your entire address files are accessed, whether your friends agree to that or not. Your messages are collected, stored, and used in places that you don't even know.
The OP may not be aware and should carefully consider before downloading such apps; I am a heavy mobile user but I never felt any disadvantages for boycotting WhatsApp, besides that I have practically never used messaging on the Camino. Just saying.
 
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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
1989
The biggest challenge I have with using phones (as phones) in countries outside of North America is that, while much has been standardized, the sounds used for "ringing, wait for them to pick up", "busy", and "something is wrong with this line" do not seem to have been. Thus, after I call the number I hear an unknown sound and have no idea what it signifies. Is it ringing on the other end or am I hearing a busy signal and should hang up and try again later. Is there a site somewhere that can decode the sounds for Spain or other countries?
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
You do not have to give META access to all your data. Those are choices

Sadly, those choices are limited.
WhatsApp was created with privacy in mind and managed to serve its users well for many years. However, things changed when WhatsApp was sold to Facebook a couple of years ago. Many people have expressed growing concern over how Facebook collects and uses information. This affects all of its services, including WhatsApp.
Adjusting your privacy settings is very important for your privacy towards other users. However, it’s impossible to fully privatize your profile for WhatsApp, because they still need certain information to keep the app working.

The chat app has made a number of improvements after much criticism on the way they deal with online security and privacy. For example, all messages you send via WhatsApp are now encrypted. Only the sender and the recipient are able to see the content. However, it seems that, for now, we have to accept that using WhatsApp automatically means sacrificing significant parts of our online privacy.
Maybe some folks don't mind this, but it behooves us to also consider the damage Meta has done and is doing in the world - who wants to support more of that in these fraught times?
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, Portuguese, Aragon, Norte, SJWayUK, Nive
Well, add iPhone to that list of evildoers, too. Plus the carbon footprint for those of us flying to Europe, all the petrochemicals used to make our tech gear, the awful chemicals in many sunscreens protecting us from skin cancer, the international banking firms we utilize to pay while abroad, and on and on and….

In short, it’s good to be careful and wary, but we all make these Faustian bargains in life. Everyone has a different tolerance for it, so choose what works best for you practically and ethically.
 
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
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AidaYYC

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Future Camino Frances
Can you please give me basic advice on using a phone on our CF trip in 2023?

Background: I've traveled to various foreign (meaning outside of USA) countries quite a bit over the last couple decades (although not the last few years).

But I've never once brought my phone with me on those trips and I've never purchased a temporary phone anywhere. I've seen the stands in the airport and I think but am not sure that some US phone companies have some sort of travel plan so you can use your own phone.

I'm just not a big phone person and I enjoy just leaving it all at home and not worrying about whatever, and stick to checking my email at the hotel etc.

But this CF trip next year, it is imperative that I keep in touch with family while I'm gone, at least every few days, more than that if it's doable.

The problem is, I am kind of ignorant about phones because I don't place a lot of importance on them. I have a smart phone (if they are still called that)-- android type. Beyond that I know almost nothing. I know how to call, text, and take pictures and can check my email and have used a few apps.

Can you give me a rundown on options and how to set myself up to be able to call or text home? I mean step-by-step. If you use acronyms or abbreviations there is a good chance I won't know what you are talking about. I would say talk to me like I'm twelve but your twelve year old likely knows more about phones than I do.

Also-a relative told me about WhatsApp where you can talk on video to each other. I've downloaded it but have yet to use it. If this can be used on the Camino to talk back home please walk me through how.

Please note: I included Camino Frances in this specifically because that's where we will be. We are not yet sure if we will be arriving in France or Spain but we will be going to SJPP and across to SDC.

Thank you for your help and patience.
I would recommend you take your phone and get a Spanish SIM card for it, makes life a lot easier. My friend relied solely on using WiFi hotspots and seldom was successful with it as signal tends to be weak due to the amount of pilgrim traffic.

Familiarize yourself with WhatsApp as so many places use it to send you confirmations and you just said you want to stay in touch with your family.

While I did not use any of the other recommended apps, I saw a lot of pilgrims use Buen Camino, Camino Ninja and a few others to check out bed availability for the next town they were targeting; whereas I relied solely on the 6-page handout given to me at the pilgrim office in SJPP and served me well as I would call at 5 pm from where I was spending the night to make reservations for the next day. It worked very well.

Buen Camino
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Portuguese from Lisbon Apr 29, 2023
You can pick up a sim card at your point of entry in Spain (Orange/Vodaphone/etc) for about 20 Euros per month for local calls and data. You can just use your phone normally and incur their roaming fees/international usage which isn't horrific for Americans as I believe most have a $100 cap on billing, unlike Canadian providers that have a $300 cap (fml). Or leave your phone on airplane mode and use the wifi in bars/cafes/albergues/hotels via What'sApp, Facebook Messenger or other apps. I roamed on my phone until I got to Pamplona and picked up a sim there, my only issue was that I could not pay for my next months usage online as it would not take my foreign CC so I had to find a physical store for that.

This link should help in figuring it all out for WhatsApp . https://faq.whatsapp.com/785056755306362/?cms_platform=android&locale=en_US
Many albergues/posadas use whats app for bookings etc so it is useful.
I’m thinking about giving HOLAFLY a try. HOLAFLY.com. No phone number but it has cellular data and you can keep your original phone number and use WhatsApp. I tested it in the USA last week, unlimited cellular data for 5 days, $19. It worked like a charm. Several data options available.
 

Schamber

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
May and June 2022
Can you please give me basic advice on using a phone on our CF trip in 2023?

Background: I've traveled to various foreign (meaning outside of USA) countries quite a bit over the last couple decades (although not the last few years).

But I've never once brought my phone with me on those trips and I've never purchased a temporary phone anywhere. I've seen the stands in the airport and I think but am not sure that some US phone companies have some sort of travel plan so you can use your own phone.

I'm just not a big phone person and I enjoy just leaving it all at home and not worrying about whatever, and stick to checking my email at the hotel etc.

But this CF trip next year, it is imperative that I keep in touch with family while I'm gone, at least every few days, more than that if it's doable.

The problem is, I am kind of ignorant about phones because I don't place a lot of importance on them. I have a smart phone (if they are still called that)-- android type. Beyond that I know almost nothing. I know how to call, text, and take pictures and can check my email and have used a few apps.

Can you give me a rundown on options and how to set myself up to be able to call or text home? I mean step-by-step. If you use acronyms or abbreviations there is a good chance I won't know what you are talking about. I would say talk to me like I'm twelve but your twelve year old likely knows more about phones than I do.

Also-a relative told me about WhatsApp where you can talk on video to each other. I've downloaded it but have yet to use it. If this can be used on the Camino to talk back home please walk me through how.

Please note: I included Camino Frances in this specifically because that's where we will be. We are not yet sure if we will be arriving in France or Spain but we will be going to SJPP and across to SDC.

Thank you for your help and patience.
I used my AT&T and paid the $10 a day with a $100 a month max. Used my phone every day. Used WhatsApp too.
 

MarkN

Mark
Time of past OR future Camino
Leon Oct '16
Porto Oct '17 & May'19
Ferrol May '22
A simple solution may be to choose to not get a SIM card, but you can still bring your phone. Just remove your SIM or turn off roaming and connect to WiFi at cafes or alberges or hotels. That way you decide when to connect.

If you choose, you can still use your gps and maps without data, if you download maps to your phones google maps (you mentioned that you are using android) before you go or when you have WiFi.

I have an older phone I use to travel with, that has maps, translate apps, booking.com, hotels.com, a few books, and a few others. I leave my 'regular phone' at home.
I've done 4 Caminos now this way and a bunch of other trips. I love that I can connect, take pics, read, email, book a nice treat room in Santiago and more but don't feel the 'pull' of a phone. In fact as it's an older phone and I back up my pictures every night on the alberge WiFi, I don't even care so much about losing or damaging it.
This works well for me as a simple solution for that balance between being connected and yet present for the experience.
 
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1elantra

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
way of St James
A simple solution may be to choose to not get a SIM card, but you can still bring your phone. Just remove your SIM or turn off roaming and connect to WiFi at cafes or alberges or hotels. That way you decide when to connect.

If you choose, you can still use your gps and maps without data, if you download maps to your phones google maps (you mentioned that you are using android) before you go or when you have WiFi.

I have an older phone I use to travel with, that has maps, translate apps, booking.com, hotels.com, a few books, and a few others. I leave my 'regular phone' at home.
I've done 4 Caminos now this way and a bunch of other trips. I love that I can connect, take pics, read, email, book a nice treat room in Santiago and more but don't feel the 'pull' of a phone. In fact as it's an older phone and I back up my pictures every night on the alberge WiFi, I don't even care so much about losing or damaging it.
This works well for me as a simple solution for that balance between being connected and yet present for the experience.
Thats a great idea, as my s10 doesnt have e sim capability, so was wondering the best way and if I would be able to still use the maps etc without data. Big help, cheers
 

ScorpioGirl22

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
SJPP to Leon - May, 2022
Leon - Santiago -May 2023
Minor point, it's good to have a Spanish SIM card because it comes with a Spanish number. If the recipient sees a foreign number, they will assume it is a scam and not answer. Whatsapp will still keep working with your original number. Any one of the mobile providers at the airport (Orange, Movistar, Vodafone et al) will be staffed with helpful assistants with excellent English speaking skills accustomed to dealing with non-techies like us. Buen camino.
I did not know that WhatsApp keeps worling on my original phone number after I had purchased a Vodophone SIM card. Ao thanks for that info.
 

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