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SIM card advice

Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Hi,
I’m getting super excited about my coastal CP July 2021. Looking at SIM cards ( my XR is unlocked) the 3UK has unlimited talk/texts and 12 GB data for 39.90 plus 12.20 shipping to my home in Michigan USA. It’s good for 30 days once active.
I plan to be in Europe at least 30 days though and most likely 6 weeks.

I think it is the best deal?
Google Fi might be good if I only used WiFi, I’m not sure I should depend on that?
Any advice or experiences will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time 😊
 

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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Google Fi allows you to use cellular data while you are in Europe for the same price as at home. So no, if you use Google Fi you don't have to rely only on wifi. The same with T-Mobile, which I use. I have unlimited data and texting to/from the US. I use my data to access maps, websites, make calls and send texts via apps like WhatsApp and Viber. In addition I use the Viber app to make phone calls to landlines or any phone for only 2 cents a minute.
 

CWBuff

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
I specifically switched to T-Mobile as per an advice I got here on Forum from the folks that said you can even make local phone calls in Europe without roaming surcharge (however it applies in reverse to phone calls made to US numbers)
I wonder if both my wife and I are on T-Mobile with US numbers and say we both are in Spain and I call her mobile - will we get charged extra or its a wash since its T-Mobile to T-Mobile?
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I wonder if both my wife and I are on T-Mobile with US numbers and say we both are in Spain and I call her mobile - will we get charged extra or its a wash since its T-Mobile to T-Mobile?
I'm guessing no, since both calls will be through a Spanish network, even though they are US numbers. Better to use something like WhatsApp.
Check with T-mobile though.
 
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WanderingBrian

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
I specifically switched to T-Mobile as per an advice I got here on Forum from the folks that said you can even make local phone calls in Europe without roaming surcharge (however it applies in reverse to phone calls made to US numbers)
I wonder if both my wife and I are on T-Mobile with US numbers and say we both are in Spain and I call her mobile - will we get charged extra or its a wash since its T-Mobile to T-Mobile?
The issue that I have with tmo international are the subpar data speeds if you are using live maps etc
 

Latecomer

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
VDLP (Sept 2015)

CF SJPDP-SdC+
(Sept/Oct 2018)
The least expensive alternative is probably just buy a local SIM card once you are on the ground. Companies like ~simoptions.com~ tend to have high mark-ups (and no shops should you have issues). The only real disadvantages of buying a local SIMs which come to mind are that you won't know your phone number in advance (not a big issue for me) and that you won't have active service when your plane lands.
For a non-Camino trip in 2019, I did but a Vodafone (NL) SIM via eBay - I activated it in advance, and have kept it active until now by sending a text every (slightly less than) 6 months. I used my Vodafone NL SIM in 7 countries without issue. I can add money to my Vodafone account via the web. There seems to be a similar offer (different seller) with Portuguese numbers -search eBay for "New! activated Vodafone Portugal SIM card ready to use 2.50€ balance Portuguese". Do pay attention to the long delivery times for the USA and remember the price is basically just for the SIM and a small amount of value, you need to add additional data but that tends to be fairly reasonable. But again, easiest and cheapest is to just buy a local SIM card once you are on the ground (another benefit is that the shop will help you set it up if you need assistance). ¡Buen Camino!
 

Rick M

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
April ('16,'18, '19, 21)
But again, easiest and cheapest is to just buy a local SIM card once you are on the ground (another benefit is that the shop will help you set it up if you need assistance). ¡Buen Camino!
Right on. A big issue for some people who may be puzzled on installing and configuring a SIM they bought in advance off the web. These work, and can be used successfully, but some phones need a little TLC to get them working with the local data system, or instructions on how to "Plus-Dial" while in europe. On all of my Caminos, I provided tech support around the bar table to a number of people who had installed their SIM, but it didn't work, and they of course, could not call anyone for assistance. If you are comfortable with digging through your phone's settings, and maybe configuring an APN, then by all means, buy one of the web. If not, walk into a shop and buy one when you get there.....just make SURE its working before you leave!

As a side note, expect them to take your passport info when you get a SIM, its the law in most (All?) of the EU.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
The issue that I have with tmo international are the subpar data speeds if you are using live maps etc
That hasn't really been a problem for me. My maps and apps have always performed perfectly fine for me when I'm on the Camino.
The least expensive alternative is probably just buy a local SIM card once you are on the ground.
Using my existing T-mobile account has been the least expensive for me - I don't pay any extra and don't have to change my phone number.
 
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BombayBill

Still Learning
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Here’s my experience with an EU sim swapping out my Canadian SIM.

On the Le Puy route I had a French SIM. Hosts would more readily phone me back for day of or 1 day in advance bookings. I doubt they would have phoned my Canadian number.
Email was useless for short notice bookings. Reloading the SIM was very difficult to understand. If you visit an official store (Vodaphone?) they take your passport number and configure it. This gives you more privileges than a short term tourist SIM ( 2 weeks?) with no passport registration.
If you use a different SIM it may bugger up your ability to use WhatsApp or other such apps, including iPhones. You must have a good knowledge of how to configure your phone. With a different SIM messaging will work when on WiFi but not on the foreign cellular SIM unless your phone is configured properly.

Clean up essential contacts before embarking. For instance a contact number that is good when used in North America like “4035551212” is unusable in EU. A good idea is to enter a 2nd number for your contacts that is EU friendly. So a North American number like 4035551212 needs to be +14035551212 or maybe +014035551212.

I also made sure I had a good Skype number for North American as some home numbers distrusted my EU number.

Also if you have 2 factor authentication turned on to your old number you will lose your ability to get the code. So set your banking 2 factor authentication to a trusted family member or to your email address and not your inactive SIM.
When you get home after using a foreign SIM everything will have to be undone.
 

LesR

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2017, 2018; Camino Portuguese 2019
Hi,
I’m getting super excited about my coastal CP July 2021. Looking at SIM cards ( my XR is unlocked) the 3UK has unlimited talk/texts and 12 GB data for 39.90 plus 12.20 shipping to my home in Michigan USA. It’s good for 30 days once active.
I plan to be in Europe at least 30 days though and most likely 6 weeks.

I think it is the best deal?
Google Fi might be good if I only used WiFi, I’m not sure I should depend on that?
Any advice or experiences will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time 😊
My suggestion woudl be to get a local SIM card - calls + data - once you are in Lisbon; use wifi for communications with home, and use the calls+data for local calls (accommodation bookings) and for navigation (google maps and/or various Camino maps as required.)

My preference is to go to a carrier store (vodaphone, Orange, etc.) to purchase the card and ask them to install it - fewer issues for the technologically challenged, and you should be able to do on-line charges .

Be aware that a SIM card purchased in Portugal may not work in Spain - happened to me, although I gather officially European SIM cards are mean to be totally interchangeable... The shop attendant, when asked about this, just shrugged his shoudlers and said that it happened frequently... In the end, it wasn't a disaster - just inconvenient...
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
If you use Google FI to call over wifi force your phone to use wifi by first getting into airplane mode to turn off both cell service and wifi and then turning just wifi back on. Otherwise FI may decide to use a cellular network. Definitely do this if calling overseas.

In 2019 I used a not quite right for prime time dual SIM on my Pixel 2. My FI number was on an eSIM and I used an Orange SIM card in the phone. At 20:00 I would switch to eSIM (FI) to call home (sometimes doing what I did above and sometimes not, and that is how I know about the difference in FI's rates). In the morning I would switch to Orange to be able to make local calls to albergues, etc. and have calls back to me be cheap for locals. Also I used Orange during the day for cheaper cellular data rates than what I would get from FI.

If you buy a SIM card from, say Portugal, then while in Portugal your phone is tied to that network even if you can't get a connection. I've picked up from this forum that if you buy your SIM from a different EU country, say France, if you can't connect your phone will try to connect to another service. I haven't tried this myself. Maybe someone else can verify this and maybe add some pros and cons to doing this.
 
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WanderingBrian

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
That hasn't really been a problem for me. My maps and apps have always performed perfectly fine for me when I'm on the Camino.

Using my existing T-mobile account has been the least expensive for me - I don't pay any extra and don't have to change my phone number.
I get ya! That's why I am glad to have dual sim capabilities so I can have 2 numbers at the same time :)
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
On the two occasions I was on Camino in Portugal I had untold trouble sorting out a SIM card that would work seamlessly in both Portugal and Spain and later the rest of Europe. Hours spent in telco stores. Having purchased in Portugal I put enough money on to last the whole route, only to find than as soon as I crossed into Spain, the thing died. The issue was supposed to have been resolved with pan EU coverage, but I never got it right. Good luck.
 
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O Peracha

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy to Santiago (2014)
Annapurna Base, Nepal (2014)
GR 5 - Holland to Pompey, France (2015)
Lisbon to Finesterre (2016)
On the two occasions I was on Camino in Portugal I had untold trouble sorting out a SIM card that would work seamlessly in both Portugal and Spain and later the rest of Europe. Hours spent in telco stores. Having purchased in Portugal I put enough money on to last the whole route, only to find than as soon as I crossed into Spain, the thing died. The issue was supposed to have been resolved with pan EU coverage, but I never got it right. Good luck.

Cell phones seem to be one of those YMMV issues. I always get a SIM and when I've had problems it has always been because the person in the store either didn't set it up correctly or omitted something. It always got fixed when I went in to the next store (this was both Vodafone and Orange) but was a hassle. So, because I go at least once a year (except last year), a couple of years ago I decided to just hang on to my Orange French SIM. I pay a nominal amount to keep the SIM active and I also get to keep the same number. This is not as a resident but one of the Holiday plans. I switch SIMS on the plane and it has (so far) always worked - in France, Spain, Portugal and Germany. Everything I need to do to manage the SIM is done online.

I'm returning in September and one change I'm making before I leave is getting a phone that allows eSIM. My carrier in the US (AT&T) allows this. This way I can leave the Orange SIM in the phone permanently, even when I'm back in the US. And who knows, if one day I'm up to challenge I may try to get my Orange SIM replaced with an electronic one. But I may need to go into the store anyway because of the new phone.
 

Richard of York

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Clean up essential contacts before embarking. For instance a contact number that is good when used in North America like “4035551212” is unusable in EU. A good idea is to enter a 2nd number for your contacts that is EU friendly. So a North American number like 4035551212 needs to be +14035551212 or maybe +014035551212.
This is true generally when you roam, I have found. I have a UK sim and roaming is free in many countries with the provider Three/3. I have found it dialling local German/Czech/Spanish/whatever numbers because they happen to have the same number as friends at home. I now check everyone before I ring them to make sure the number begins +44 instead of 0. Likewise I don't need to find out what the local country code is when dialling a local number.
 

Jeff Robinson

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Hi,
I’m getting super excited about my coastal CP July 2021. Looking at SIM cards ( my XR is unlocked) the 3UK has unlimited talk/texts and 12 GB data for 39.90 plus 12.20 shipping to my home in Michigan USA. It’s good for 30 days once active.
I plan to be in Europe at least 30 days though and most likely 6 weeks.

I think it is the best deal?
Google Fi might be good if I only used WiFi, I’m not sure I should depend on that?
Any advice or experiences will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time 😊
Hi Margaret68,
I read through a lot of the replies and thought I would add my two cents. I've been traveling to Spain and other parts of Western Europe 2 - 3 times a year since 2014. For me, the whole SIM card thing has been confusing and a waste of time and money. I use an Apple phone. I tried using Viper several years ago but the connection was not dependable and would drop off occasionally. Maybe it is better these days.

I decided several years ago to use my Verizon services (phone, data, and internet) on an as needed basis for $10 per 24 hour period while in Europe. Otherwise I use Wi-Fi as available.

I am self employed and need to make myself available to my clients. To do so I forward my calls to Google Voice before leaving home in Minnesota and receive any voice messages via email when ever I connect to local Wi-Fi. Typically, I consolidate my calls stateside onto one or two days per week if need be.

For me, it is simple, offers good value, dependable, and makes the best connection available no matter where I am. And oh yes, when ever I speak with another carrier about switching from Verizon, I tell them I travel to Europe, they tell me to keep what I have. They can't compete with Verizon's international plan.

Buen Camino!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances - 2009
Portuguese Interior (2014)
Hadrian's Wall (2017)
Porto to SdC ( Seaside) 2019
2018 I stopped in UK on my way to Portugal. Bought a Vidaphone SIM for around 11 Pounds. 30 days unlimited talk/text and, I think, 5 Gig data. Good in all of Northern Europe. Simple, cheap and never a problem. I did have the folks at the Vidaphone store do the installation (for free). I'll do that again the next time.
 
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Deleted member 67338

Guest
Simple just pop into a Vodaphone shop grab a sim ( pamplona) get on bus when you walk over the Pyraneese activate it and for 35 euros will last you the entire camino
 
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C.C.

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
May 2017
I walk into the Orange store at the airport...hand the nice clerk my phone, he installs a new SIM card, gives me back my one from Canada, and I pay him. Never had a problem. Then I immediately text my husband the new phone number. Done .... Spain & Portugal
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
That hasn't really been a problem for me. My maps and apps have always performed perfectly fine for me when I'm on the Camino.

Using my existing T-mobile account has been the least expensive for me - I don't pay any extra and don't have to change my phone number.
I am totally confused by what alot of people write because it seems everyone has a different solution. You say with T-Mobile you do not pay extra but does that entitle you to make regular telephone calls within Spain or Portugal. ( I am asking these questions as I will be meeting my college buddies for our annual get together and 4 of them will walk with me next year on the CP. When I bought SIM cards in Spain it is always been with Orange as I love their plan. In Portugal I went with Vodafone. Not as good a plan but it worked. I don't remember what the Vodafone plan cost. In Spain Orange is 20Euros for a month. 80 minutes of calling and 15gigs of data. I think the plan is even better now. It was easy to recharge. I could make calls within Spain which came in handy in the winter of 2019 as the guides on what was open/closed wasn't very accurate. Even though they gave me a new number my wife in Mexico and my kids in the US didn't need to change it to reach me. We of course could speak for free without much problem on Wattsapp. My wife could call me for free from our landline internet phone in our home. So for clarity what is the bottom line for you. I know there are too many plans to count. I could get a plan like that in Mexico but it would cost me about $80 a month. Right now I pay $10 a month for unlimited calls to and from Mexico/USA/Canada and 3 gigs of data. So I am sticking with that monthly SIM card on Camino.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
Simple just pop into a Vodaphone shop grab a sim ( pamplona) get on bus when you walk over the Pyraneese activate it and for 35 euros will last you the entire camino
Would you please let me know what you get for your. 35 Euros? What does a SIM card cost at Vodafone?
I just went over this above with Trecile Haha.
I use Orange. One Month rechargeable is 20 Euros. I get 80 minutes of calls within Spain and 15 gigs of data. Had to change my number within Spain but my wife and kids could call me on Wattsapp with my old number no problem and my wife could also call me on our landline internet phone at no charge. It is really easy to recharge online if you know some Spanish if not just pop into a Orange shop and recharge. I walk caminos that are usually between 800-1100k so I need to recharge.
I just checked and the plan and it seems to be even better than ever.
It is a "pay as you go" plan and there are many choices.
For example for the same 20Euros you get 35gigs of data and unlimited calls
I think I will go with the 15 Euro plan this year which is 20 gigs of data and unlimited calls (unlimited in Spain only for both plans)
So is your method better deal than this one? And for me another advantage is I just go to one shop and wait on only one line.
 

jpatharris

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(2021)
I'm in the US and only see one reference to ATT.
Is there an ATT issue/problem that someone can explain? Thank you.
 

motero99

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2019
Camino Norte (2020)
Two years ago I used an Orange plan. It was good for 28 days. I don't remember the minutes and data that came with it. At the end of 28 days I had .1 Euro left. I tried to renew it online, but kept getting an error. After finishing the Camino, I found an Orange store. There I was told that the problem was that I could only renew for a plan the same size as my current one or larger. I was trying to purchase less data and minutes. Also, though I purchased in a store where they set it up and copied my passport, I kept getting texts from some government office that wanted me to send them a copy of my passport. I wan's sure if the request was legitimate since the store had copied my information, so I ignored the request. Lastly, when I tried to use WIFI calling, I got an error that it would have to be set up by Orange. WIFI texting was not a problem. I don't know if that was a limitation of my plan or that the WIFI calling was not setup correctly at the store.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I am totally confused by what alot of people write because it seems everyone has a different solution. You say with T-Mobile you do not pay extra but does that entitle you to make regular telephone calls within Spain or Portugal.
No. Phone calls are around 25 cents a minute if you just dial as normal. What I do is use the Viber app to make calls for about 2 cents a minute, either within Spain/Portugal or to the US. I buy "Viber Out" credits to make these calls. I usually buy $5 worth of credit before I leave home, and a lot of it left when I return from Spain. I also use it if I want to call a foreign number from home. I use it to call albergues to make reservations, call my home phone in Oregon, etc. You can also use WhatsApp to make free calls to other WhatsApp users. When I use an app to make a phone call I am using either wifi, or cellular data.

What I get with my T-Mobile plan is unlimited roaming data while I'm abroad and unlimited texting. This is included in the base price that I pay every month. Using that roaming data I make the calls with Viber or WhatsApp.

Google Fi works similarly.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
What I get with my T-Mobile plan is unlimited roaming data while I'm abroad and unlimited texting. This is included in the base price that I pay every month. Using that roaming data I make the calls with Viber or WhatsApp.

Google Fi works similarly.
I've been a happy FI customer for about five years and I agree with @trecile about the similarly. However FI's data rates are expensive, $10 per GB, over 6GB are currently free. FI actually meters per MB so in reality you pay about 1 cent per MB. That is why I wanted Orange for data (I rarely use cellular data at home). I figured that while on the way I would be checking the internet for a good number of things (I was on little used caminos). International calls over the cellular network cost about 20 cents per minute but over wifi they cost about 2 cents per minute. You have to examine FI's international rates information for the details.

You may want to re-read my post #13 above.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
No. Phone calls are around 25 cents a minute if you just dial as normal. What I do is use the Viber app to make calls for about 2 cents a minute, either within Spain/Portugal or to the US. I buy "Viber Out" credits to make these calls. I usually buy $5 worth of credit before I leave home, and a lot of it left when I return from Spain. I also use it if I want to call a foreign number from home. I use it to call albergues to make reservations, call my home phone in Oregon, etc. You can also use WhatsApp to make free calls to other WhatsApp users. When I use an app to make a phone call I am using either wifi, or cellular data.

What I get with my T-Mobile plan is unlimited roaming data while I'm abroad and unlimited texting. This is included in the base price that I pay every month. Using that roaming data I make the calls with Viber or WhatsApp.

Google Fi works similarly.
I think what I am going to do is tell my friends to check with their mobil providers and let them decide. I will also save this thread and show it to my friends. For me after reading what everyone does I am WITHOUT A DOUBT :) going to stick with what I have been doing. For me it is super easy and cheap.
Like I mentioned:
For example for the same 20Euros you get 35gigs of data and unlimited calls
I think I will go with the 15 Euro plan this year which is 20 gigs of data and unlimited calls (unlimited in Spain only for both plans)
Easy to recharge and my family does not have to change to my European number. I too only call to albergues to see if they are open or not. With 20 or 35 gigs I can call anyone I need on my wattsapp. Haven't meet a pilgrim who doesn't have it. My wife and kids have it and they are basically the only people I call. Like I said easy to recharge. Thanks for your help.
 

Becky 59

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (May 2018)
Camino Ingles (Aug 2019)
I bought a sim card for my phone in England (Vodaphone) on my last camino, but discovered that I couldn't add more data from Spain once I was on the Camino without horrendous surcharges. When you buy a card "on the ground" once you get there, be careful about data limits and recharging it.
 

CWBuff

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
The issue that I have with tmo international are the subpar data speeds if you are using live maps etc
YEah....well... this will be our 1st foray into EU with TM so we'll see
in 2019 I got (IIRC) ORange - there is a thread on this Forum somewhere after I returned - and it did not work form me in France & Italy (seems to be my fault as I didn't set roaming when leaving Spain, but that's nether here nor there at this moment)...the point is that I had to revert back to the 'old times' of obtaining & reading the paper maps as well as asking locals for directions and such. You know something - i Liked it! in a way even missed it :)

anyways - thanks for the warning
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
First one in 1977 by train. Many since then by foot. Next one ASAP.
I get my USA phone service from "Mint Mobile', which piggy-backs very cheaply on the T-Mobile network. "Mint Mobile" advertises an international call capacity, and I'm tempted to try it this time (my needs are minimal) rather than buy a Spanish sim card. Can anyone speak to that?
 

WanderingBrian

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
I get my USA phone service from "Mint Mobile', which piggy-backs very cheaply on the T-Mobile network. "Mint Mobile" advertises an international call capacity, and I'm tempted to try it this time (my needs are minimal) rather than buy a Spanish sim card. Can anyone speak to that?
They do. Here are the rates. Very expensive. 1GB would be $200
1622819812755.png
 

jalluisi

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
October 2020
I'm in the US and only see one reference to ATT.
Is there an ATT issue/problem that someone can explain? Thank you.
I have used ATT International plan while traveling in Europe. It's is 10 dollars a day for a 24 hr period. It's unlimited. I have not checked lately on the price. When I was in Europe last it was for 2 weeks. I only used Cell service maybe a few times so I would not have so many charges. I have not decided yet what to do for the Camino in October. Probably get a SIMS card.
 

marilyn van graan

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2012) VDLP (2014) Portuguese (2015)
I also buy a sim on arrival in Spain and it works like a charm - no hassles. The year I walked with my grandson in Portugal we bought our sims in Lisbon did all our travels up to Valencia and the next day when we crossed over into Spain that was the end of our Portuguese sim. The first town we got to I went into a Vodaphone shop and the lovely assistant explained we would have to buy a new sim for Spain. - it was not a problem but it did leave me a little confused as I thought it would be valid for Europe - did I miss something !!??
 

Rick M

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
April ('16,'18, '19, 21)
The first town we got to I went into a Vodaphone shop and the lovely assistant explained we would have to buy a new sim for Spain. - it was not a problem but it did leave me a little confused as I thought it would be valid for Europe - did I miss something !!??

You did miss something. The Portuguese SIM no doubt would still talk and text while roaming in Spain. That's the Law. But the Data plan, the part you care about, does not necessarily work as soon as you leave the "Home" country of the SIM. In most cases, you get a bucket of GBytes for data, but these are just useful in-country. Some SIM plans allow for "EU Data" add-ons, but at a higher price. Other "Tourist" plans allow EU wide data from the get go. You need to check into the plan you buy if you will be changing countries. Oh, and sometimes, when you change countries, you need to update your phone settings - depends on the network, the SIM configuration, and your phone.
 
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Rod Murray

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
I just popped into a mobile store and grabbed a Vodaphone sim and plan. I have a phone with dual sim capability. So when traveling, I use my US Tmobile for free texting and the Vodaphone for LTE service.
Both times we've been to walk, arriving in Madrid first time and Porto, the second time, we got Vodaphone SIMs, usually at an airport kiosk, and the people there are very good at swapping out the SIM, setting it up, and making sure your original SIM is packed safely so you don't lose it when you return to your home country. The process takes about 15 minutes, if the line is short.
The Vodaphone plans were great, about €15 for an adequate amount of data and calls to last a month. Easily extended if need be.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
First one in 1977 by train. Many since then by foot. Next one ASAP.
Do I need a sim card at all? I wonder.... My needs are very simple. Nowadays every place I stay should have free wifi, and with free wifi my fine android device can web surf, and allow me to communicate by e-mail with anyone I want, no?
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Do I need a sim card at all? I wonder.... My needs are very simple. Nowadays every place I stay should have free wifi, and with free wifi my fine android device can web surf, and allow me to communicate by e-mail with anyone I want, no?
No, you don't need a sim card. Many pilgrims manage with using wifi, and some manage with no phone at all! For me, as a woman traveling alone I like to be able to be connected for safety reasons.
 

CdnDreamer

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (12, 15 & 18) San Salvador (18), Portuguese (19)
When I bought my SIM card and tourist plan in Porto I mentioned to the Vodafone rep that I was going to Spain. He then adjusted my phone - I think he turned on roaming so that it would work in Spain. Compared to prices in Canada the phone plans in Europe are cheap.
 
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Rod Murray

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Both times we've been to walk, arriving in Madrid first time and Porto, the second time, we got Vodaphone SIMs, usually at an airport kiosk, and the people there are very good at swapping out the SIM, setting it up, and making sure your original SIM is packed safely so you don't lose it when you return to your home country. The process takes about 15 minutes, if the line is short.
The Vodaphone plans were great, about €15 for an adequate amount of data and calls to last a month. Easily extended if need be.
Just visited the Vodafone Portugal website and quickly ended up at this English language page for travellers. A month plan with phone, data with international calling is €20. https://www.vodafone.pt/en/products...=personalizacao-eng-travellers#phone-SIM-card
I visited the Spain site as well and although I was not redirected to an English language page, I can say there are similar plans available. The data plans are active across the EU I see. Check them out. Buen Camino!
 

Kelly Ann

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
N/A
I just popped into a mobile store and grabbed a Vodaphone sim and plan. I have a phone with dual sim capability. So when traveling, I use my US Tmobile for free texting and the Vodaphone for LTE service.
Hey Brian, when you say "dual sim" does that mean that the card can work in more than one phone? So you don't have to purchase a phone but just a Vodaphone sim card and the dual part means it will fit in a Vodaphone phone and any other phone, right? And what does "LTE" stand for?
 

Kelly Ann

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
N/A
Google Fi allows you to use cellular data while you are in Europe for the same price as at home. So no, if you use Google Fi you don't have to rely only on wifi. The same with T-Mobile, which I use. I have unlimited data and texting to/from the US. I use my data to access maps, websites, make calls and send texts via apps like WhatsApp and Viber. In addition I use the Viber app to make phone calls to landlines or any phone for only 2 cents a minute.
How do you use Google Fi and what it is? A phone? A card? An app? And if you have a T-Mobile phone with the unlimited like you used, you don't need Google Fi, right? And if you have unlimited text on your phone, why would one want to use either WhatsApp, which I'm not very familiar with, or Viber?
 

WanderingBrian

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
Hey Brian, when you say "dual sim" does that mean that the card can work in more than one phone? So you don't have to purchase a phone but just a Vodaphone sim card and the dual part means it will fit in a Vodaphone phone and any other phone, right? And what does "LTE" stand for?
Dual sim means the phone can have 2 SIM cards and 2 different cell plans from different compatible services at the same time. This also allows for 2 numbers. Sims are all standard now and fit all modern phones. Most phones however are single sim meaning you have to remove one sim and replace with another. So if you have T-Mobile let’s say and you go to Spain and get a vodaphone plan, the store swaps SIM cards and you only have vodaphone now.

LTE is what you typically think of as normal high speed 4g service.

US international plans like T-Mobile will use barely serviceable 2 or 3g. Texting and calling works fine however as those are not dependent on the “g” speed. It’s really about if you want internet or not.

Anything you do other than text or call requires high speed data: WhatsApp, FB messenger, etc.
 
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WanderingBrian

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
How do you use Google Fi and what it is? A phone? A card? An app? And if you have a T-Mobile phone with the unlimited like you used, you don't need Google Fi, right? And if you have unlimited text on your phone, why would one want to use either WhatsApp, which I'm not very familiar with, or Viber?
GoogleFI is what’s called an MVNO. It’s phone service that piggy backs on T-Mobile’s towers. Note that if you have a Google phone, GoogleFI will automatically jump between T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular towers automatically as needed. Further note that T-Mobile and Sprint use the same towers now.

A lot of people use WhatsApp to chat with each other. Less so in the US however. But travel overseas and in many countries it’s the chat app of choice. It uses internet and generally requires 4g to function correctly.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
How do you use Google Fi and what it is? A phone? A card? An app? And if you have a T-Mobile phone with the unlimited like you used, you don't need Google Fi, right? And if you have unlimited text on your phone, why would one want to use either WhatsApp, which I'm not very familiar with, or Viber?
To supplement what @WanderingBrian wrote above read the following webpage by Randy, the family travel guy, discussing the advantages of FI internationally.


And here is help from Google:

 
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WanderingBrian

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
To supplement what @WanderingBrian wrote above read the following webpage by Randy, the family travel guy, discussing the advantages of FI internationally.


And here is help from Google:

To this point, GoogleFI does allow for up to 4g so it’s a good choice if someone has it and doesn’t want to get Voda or similar. Since it’s an MVNO the high speed is prioritized below local subscribers but is rarely an issue.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I have used T-mobile on 5 Caminos and other European trips. I have always had a signal that works well enough to upload photos, use WhatsApp and Viber to make calls and texts, use Google maps, and access websites to make reservations. I have even turned my phone into a Hotspot and shared my signal with another pilgrim on occasion.
I rarely connect to Wi-Fi in albergues and bars.
To say that the speeds are not fast enough to use the internet is just not correct.

How do you use Google Fi and what it is? A phone? A card? An app? And if you have a T-Mobile phone with the unlimited like you used, you don't need Google Fi, right? And if you have unlimited text on your phone, why would one want to use either WhatsApp, which I'm not very familiar with, or Viber?
Google Fi is a cell provider, like T-mobile, AT&T or Verizon.
The unlimited texting I have with my T-mobile plan is only to/from other US phone numbers.
I use WhatsApp to text with other pilgrims that I meet along the way as it's the preferred texting app for many people.
Viber allows me to make 2¢ per minute calls to land-line phones, for example albergues, using my cellular data. I have also used it to call businesses like my bank.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
I have problems with my phone every time I go to Spain. My biggest challenge is having a phone service which only lasts for one month. I can buy and install a Spanish sim card, but for sure I will be far from a phone store when the month is up and I need to recharge. I was at Ponferrada and about to set off on the Invierno the last time this problem arose, on a Sunday when almost nothing was open. The local shop could not help and I spent the morning on Monday wandering around Ponferrada looking for a phone store. I won't go into the problems that losing the morning caused later in the day. Any suggestions as to how to avoid this? As a Canadian, the much better, and cheaper, American phone plans are not available to me.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
My biggest challenge is having a phone service which only lasts for one month. I can buy and install a Spanish sim card, but for sure I will be far from a phone store when the month is up and I need to recharge. ... Any suggestions as to how to avoid this?
I bought a recharge from Orange a week or so before I had to and did not have any problems.

I possibly lost some usable time but I still had more time to use the card than I had left in Spain. This was done in a city big enough to have a dedicated Orange shop and with a salesman with excellent English so the convenience and assurance was worth it to me even if I lost card usability while still traveling.
 
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Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
I bought a recharge from Orange a week or so before I had to and did not have any problems.

I possibly lost some usable time but I still had more time to use the card than I had left in Spain. This was done in a city big enough to have a dedicated Orange shop and with a salesman with excellent English so the convenience and assurance was worth it to me even if I lost card usability while still traveling.
That sounds like a good idea, but I would have thought Ponferrada to be a big enough city to purchase anything needed. However, Sunday was the issue here. It may be wiser to assume that nothing can be done on a Sunday in Spain. However, I had thought that recharging a sim car could be done through a payment made in any grocery store, and this proved not to be the case, or I did not find the right store.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I have problems with my phone every time I go to Spain. My biggest challenge is having a phone service which only lasts for one month. I can buy and install a Spanish sim card, but for sure I will be far from a phone store when the month is up and I need to recharge. I was at Ponferrada and about to set off on the Invierno the last time this problem arose, on a Sunday when almost nothing was open. The local shop could not help and I spent the morning on Monday wandering around Ponferrada looking for a phone store. I won't go into the problems that losing the morning caused later in the day. Any suggestions as to how to avoid this? As a Canadian, the much better, and cheaper, American phone plans are not available to me.
I haven't bought a SIM card in Spain, but I do notice lots of supermercados and smaller stores advertising SIM card re-charging.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
I haven't bought a SIM card in Spain, but I do notice lots of supermercados and smaller stores advertising SIM card re-charging.
But try to find one open that will recharge sim cards on a Sunday in an unfamiliar town.
 

Kelly Ann

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
N/A
Dual sim means the phone can have 2 SIM cards and 2 different cell plans from different compatible services at the same time. This also allows for 2 numbers. Sims are all standard now and fit all modern phones. Most phones however are single sim meaning you have to remove one sim and replace with another. So if you have T-Mobile let’s say and you go to Spain and get a vodaphone plan, the store swaps SIM cards and you only have vodaphone now.

LTE is what you typically think of as normal high speed 4g service.

US international plans like T-Mobile will use barely serviceable 2 or 3g. Texting and calling works fine however as those are not dependent on the “g” speed. It’s really about if you want internet or not.

Anything you do other than text or call requires high speed data: WhatsApp, FB messenger, etc.
Thanks. I really appreciate your reply. A dual sim card then, can be used in one phone and offer two numbers. That's cool. And thanks for explaining what LTE stands for. Ah, and so the T-Mobile will do everything unless I want to use internet. That makes sense.
 
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Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
I have problems with my phone every time I go to Spain. ..... Any suggestions as to how to avoid this? As a Canadian, the much better, and cheaper, American phone plans are not available to me.
Top up online, that is what I do. Last time I used Vodafone Spain. From memory, the top up part of their website had an English language option although I did need Chrome to translate other parts of the process.

The alternative, which is probably even easier is to top up for an additional month in the shop where you buy the new SIM card from when you get to Spain. That is buy the new SIM and pay for an additional month service at the same time. This way it should just automatically renew after one month expires.

The only caution is that Vodafone ANZ, for example, will send you a warning txt asking you to top up, even if you already have enough credit in your account. You just ignore the txt and the plan automatically rolls over for another month.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
Top up online, that is what I do. Last time I used Vodafone Spain. From memory, the top up part of their website had an English language option although I did need Chrome to translate other parts of the process.

The alternative, which is probably even easier is to top up for an additional month in the shop where you buy the new SIM card from when you get to Spain. That is buy the new SIM and pay for an additional month service at the same time. This way it should just automatically renew after one month expires.
I did not know that either of these options was available and it was never offered to me when I bought the card. For some reason, I thought that one month at a time was all that would be sold to me and that I would have to pay in person in a shop or phone office when that month ran out. I shall certainly try this on my next trip to Spain.
 

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
I did not know that either of these options was available and it was never offered to me when I bought the card. For some reason, I thought that one month at a time was all that would be sold to me and that I would have to pay in person in a shop or phone office when that month ran out. I shall certainly try this on my next trip to Spain.
There is one thing to be careful about. In general, my advice applies to almost all pre-pay phone packages. If there is enough credit in your account then the package simply renews for another month.

However, sometimes the phone companies offer a special package aimed at tourists that is for a fixed amount of time and these packages can not be renewed. If you need to use your phone for longer than these fixed period packages then it is probably best not to buy these. As with most things, ask before commiting.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
A dual sim card then, can be used in one phone and offer two numbers.
Not exactly. There is no dual sim card. There are phones that are capable of using two sims at once - dual sim card phones.
To elaborate further, these days newer dual sim phones may have one slot to insert a physical SIM card and the other SIM will be an electronic virtual SIM called an eSIM. I have two Pixel phones like this and would look for something similar in the future.

Edit: I added some links that supply more detailed information. Too technical for easy reading.

Apple:

Google's Android Pixel phones:
 
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WanderingBrian

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
To elaborate further, these days newer dual sim phones may have one slot to insert a physical SIM card and the other SIM will be an electronic virtual SIM called an eSIM. I have two Pixel phones like this and would look for something similar in the future.
Right. The new iPhones as well. My 12 pro has an esim and a physical sim slot
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
1989
That sounds like a good idea, but I would have thought Ponferrada to be a big enough city to purchase anything needed. However, Sunday was the issue here. It may be wiser to assume that nothing can be done on a Sunday in Spain. However, I had thought that recharging a sim car could be done through a payment made in any grocery store, and this proved not to be the case, or I did not find the right store.
If I remember correctly, and the situation has not changed, you can also top up your phone plans in gas stations in Spain. They may be open when other options are not.
 

marilyn van graan

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2012) VDLP (2014) Portuguese (2015)
You did miss something. The Portuguese SIM no doubt would still talk and text while roaming in Spain. That's the Law. But the Data plan, the part you care about, does not necessarily work as soon as you leave the "Home" country of the SIM. In most cases, you get a bucket of GBytes for data, but these are just useful in-country. Some SIM plans allow for "EU Data" add-ons, but at a higher price. Other "Tourist" plans allow EU wide data from the get go. You need to check into the plan you buy if you will be changing countries. Oh, and sometimes, when you change countries, you need to update your phone settings - depends on the network, the SIM configuration, and your phone.
Thank you for your reply - so appreciate it - hopefully when us South Africans are allowed to travel and I get to Spain/Portugal then i might be a little wiser - take careXX
 

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