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Sim Card or Phone Plan?

Crystal Marie

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019, My son walked the Camino in 2014
Hi Camino or Cell phone experts,
I am traveling to France from Canada in a couple of weeks and am conflicted as to whether I: a) should purchase a SIM Card for my cell phone when in France, b) purchase a phone plan with a little data before leaving Canada, or c) just use wifi and keep my phone on Flight Mode. Any suggestions?
 
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Deleted member 67185

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Hi, Crystal. . .

Some of the choice depends on your current company's international phone plan and what you think you will be using your phone for. . data heavy or voice or both?

For example, with my T-Mobile plan, international data use is already included, but not voice. However, for texting and offline maps, WhatsApp or Facetime stuff, I'm good to go. If I need to establish an impromptu voice call, then I can still call at a per minute charge. But calling via WhatsApp works, too.
 

Crystal Marie

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019, My son walked the Camino in 2014
Hi, Crystal. . .

Some of the choice depends on your current company's international phone plan and what you think you will be using your phone for. . data heavy or voice or both?

For example, with my T-Mobile plan, international data use is already included, but not voice. However, for texting and offline maps, WhatsApp or Facetime stuff, I'm good to go. If I need to establish an impromptu voice call, then I can still call at a per minute charge. But calling via WhatsApp works, too.
Thanks Dave, I'll check my phone plan again. I think I will probably just use that and keep things simple. One other thing... when you call ahead to book a gite or albergue, with Whats App, I assume you have to use the country of origin code, then France Code then number? Eg. 011 (Canada) 33(France) Albergue number?? Such a novice questions but am curious, and I'm pretty sure you will know the answer.
 
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Deleted member 67185

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Thanks Dave, I'll check my phone plan again. I think I will probably just use that and keep things simple. One other thing... when you call ahead to book a gite or albergue, with Whats App, I assume you have to use the country of origin code, then France Code then number? Eg. 011 (Canada) 33(France) Albergue number?? Such a novice questions but am curious, and I'm pretty sure you will know the answer.

I have never called to reserve accommodations, so I would not be certain of that. I will either email or use a booking app. There will be a Forum member who will know, though. :)
 

Crystal Marie

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019, My son walked the Camino in 2014
I have never called to reserve accommodations, so I would not be certain of that. I will either email or use a booking app. There will be a Forum member who will know, though. :)
I have never called to reserve accommodations, so I would not be certain of that. I will either email or use a booking app. There will be a Forum member who will know, though. :)
I have never called to reserve accommodations, so I would not be certain of that. I will either email or use a booking app. There will be a Forum member who will know, though. :)
That's a relief. Thanks Dave
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
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To make a call on a US or Canadian smartphone when you are in Europe, you must dial:

+34.123.456.789

The “+” tells the system that this is a call to another country. You may physically be in Spain, but your phone still thinks it is at home.

The “34” is the country code, in this case Spain.

The remainder of the string is the local phone number.

Depending on your home cellular plan, this can be expensive. Caveat emptor...

Using my US t-Mobile Simple Choice 55+ plan, data and text out of the US is unlimited and free. T-Mobile only get difficult once I am foreign more than 30 calendar days at a go. When I land at Madrid, my phone just boots up and connects to either Vodafone.es or orange.es.

All voice calls placed while I am physically out of the US cost USD .25 per minute. So a local call in Spain to make or confirm a reservation would cost 25 US cents per minute.

Living in Canada, your cellular provider options are different and may be more limited or expensive. Shop around.

Before swapping SIM cards, I would find out if your phone can make Wi-Fi calls. If it can, you put your phone in airplane mode, turn only Wi-Fi on, and place your phone call as a a VOIP (voice over internet protocol) call. Of course, you need a good Wi-Fi signal to do this.

If using your home cellular provider is either not possible, or is too expensive for you, you can pick up an Orange.es or Vodafone.es SIM on arrival in Spain. Make sure you get generous data and text. Voice is good to have, but less essential, at least IMHO.

Hope this helps.
 

Lindsay53

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances April / May 19
I managed fine with only wifi, however I did not call ahead for accommodation at all and only sent occasional messages via facebook to those at home. If this is all you need then I would not worry about sim cards or phone plans.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Thanks Dave, I'll check my phone plan again. I think I will probably just use that and keep things simple. One other thing... when you call ahead to book a gite or albergue, with Whats App, I assume you have to use the country of origin code, then France Code then number? Eg. 011 (Canada) 33(France) Albergue number?? Such a novice questions but am curious, and I'm pretty sure you will know the answer.
You can only use WhatsApp to call other mobile phones that also have WhatsApp, so it's not always useful for calling albergues and other accommodations that use landlines. For that, I use the Viber app. Viber has two ways to make calls - free calls to other Viber users (similar to WhatsApp), or using Viber credits to make very low cost calls - 2¢ US per minute. I buy $5 worth of Viber credit before my Camino, and it is more than enough for the calls that I need to make during the Camino.
You really need advice from other Canadians about whether or not your current phone plan will be a good option for you, as Canadian plans can be much different from US, Australian, etc. plans.

 

Cam1952

www.camcamino.com
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances Sept-Oct (2013)
Frances Sept-Oct (2017)
Portuguese June (2019)
Madrid (2021)
I have just returned from my 3rd Camino and every time I have decided to purchase a SIM card rather than paying the exorbitant amounts to Rogers, Bell, or Telus allowing me to use my phone in France, Spain, and Portugal. For 20 Euros you can get a SIM card with 15 Gig of data, 60 minutes of International calling, and tons of European calling....as well as unlimited incoming calls, and unlimited social media time. My interest is in the 15 Gig of data. I used Skype frquently paying the paltry sum charged for their service and barely touched the limits of the plan. I also had use of my Wise Pilgrim app helping me to become in-lost...... very handy in my case.
I actually waited until I was in Pamplona where I was able to get help in English....please remember to ask how to add payments to your plan if needed. (depending on your actual use this may be required)
Just thought you might be interested in a Canadian perspective...... (wish we had a more competitive cellular market in our country.....)
Buen Camino.
 

ChipFrazier

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I have just returned from my 3rd Camino and every time I have decided to purchase a SIM card rather than paying the exorbitant amounts to Rogers, Bell, or Telus allowing me to use my phone in France, Spain, and Portugal. For 20 Euros you can get a SIM card with 15 Gig of data, 60 minutes of International calling, and tons of European calling....as well as unlimited incoming calls, and unlimited social media time. My interest is in the 15 Gig of data. I used Skype frquently paying the paltry sum charged for their service and barely touched the limits of the plan. I also had use of my Wise Pilgrim app helping me to become in-lost...... very handy in my case.
I actually waited until I was in Pamplona where I was able to get help in English....please remember to ask how to add payments to your plan if needed. (depending on your actual use this may be required)
Just thought you might be interested in a Canadian perspective...... (wish we had a more competitive cellular market in our country.....)
Buen Camino.
Cam 1952, I am new to use of a European SIM card. How does a different sim card affect the function of your phone? Same number? Same contacts? If not, can they be transferred? How about offline maps? I appreciate your help.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Cam 1952, I am new to use of a European SIM card. How does a different sim card affect the function of your phone? Same number? Same contacts? If not, can they be transferred? How about offline maps? I appreciate your help.
Everything except your phone number should remain the same
 

Cam1952

www.camcamino.com
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances Sept-Oct (2013)
Frances Sept-Oct (2017)
Portuguese June (2019)
Madrid (2021)
Cam 1952, I am new to use of a European SIM card. How does a different sim card affect the function of your phone? Same number? Same contacts? If not, can they be transferred? How about offline maps? I appreciate your help.
Hiya Chip;
Yeah, there are a couple of caveats to be sure. You will have a new phone number associated with the SIM card so when messaging your friends and family back home start out with “Hey don’t delete this message....it’s me,” Otherwise people will see a strange phone number and definitely nothing showing who you really are.
All of your contacts should still be in your phone....but, and isn't there always a but...
If you want to use the existing contacts you will need to edit the phone numbers to include “+1” as a prefix. I haven’t removed this and I can still use the modified number in Canada once returning home. I’m not sure....this may be a cell provider thing however.
My understanding is offline maps are not dependent on your carrier. You can simply download the maps needed and then access them on your phone as required.
Quite honestly for the 20 Euros the live maps were always something I appreciated....especially when I needed it.
Hope this helps.... ask away if I can provide more.
C’.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2016 CF
2017 CF and Finnisterre
2019 CP and Muxia
Hi Crystal, If you are going to purchase a SIM card in France, make sure that your phone is unlocked before your leave Canada! I thought that mine was, and it was not.... I managed fine with wifi, which is in "almost, but not all" bars and albergue/hotels and I used WhatsApp to talk to my husband. You can plug in your hotel address while using wifi in a bar and then use that map to get your to your destination, but if you lose the signal, you've lost your directions. There were a few times when I would have really, really enjoyed having data to use apple or google maps to help me find my hotel and to have a translator app. On Sunday afternoons, you sometimes have very limited choices for wifi. For 20 euro and a good plan, I would definitely go European SIM card next time.
 

JudyJane

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017 May or August
My question is which kind of Sim card should one purchase ... One just for Spain or for all Europe? Which would be cheaper? Safer to use? Where to buy one?
 
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I am also from the land of expensive phone plans and I have done 2.5 Caminos. I did not use either a roaming plan nor a sim card. Wifi was sufficient for my needs. I used the Skype app (like Viber) to make local calls with wifi and I used the Locus map app (downloaded Spain) offline. These maps showed the actual Camino paths and certainly helped get me through the confusion of the larger cities. Facetime worked to talk back home.
 

benny aumala

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
may-june 2016
may-june (2019)
In case of PrePaid card, buy it in Spain, not in France. Most of the time you are in Spain anyway.
 

Elle Bieling

Elle Bieling, PilgrimageTraveler
Year of past OR future Camino
A total of eight in the past 6 years!
Any SIM card you purchase in an EU country (not sure about the UK) will work throughout continental Europe. A law was passed about a year or so ago, disallowing expensive roaming charges from one EU country to the other. Most airports have kiosks where you can purchase the SIM card when you land, for very inexpensive (about 20 E) for plenty of gigs of data that is good for a month. You can, for a small extra amount, also get voice, which is very handy to call/text to book ahead if you do that, and stay in touch with family back home if needed when the WIFI is not so great. I have an elderly mother and this was important to me, as she doesn't text or use the internet. I prefer Vodaphone, but no matter who you chose as a carrier, they will change the SIM card for you, and set you up very quickly and efficiently. It all depends on your needs and wants.
 
Last edited:

Cam1952

www.camcamino.com
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances Sept-Oct (2013)
Frances Sept-Oct (2017)
Portuguese June (2019)
Madrid (2021)
My question is which kind of Sim card should one purchase ... One just for Spain or for all Europe? Which would be cheaper? Safer to use? Where to buy one?
hi Judy Jane,
The companies I have used all include “all Europe” plans.....
I have used Vodafone, and Orange.
Both worked well.
C’.
 

Crystal Marie

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019, My son walked the Camino in 2014
You can only use WhatsApp to call other mobile phones that also have WhatsApp, so it's not always useful for calling albergues and other accommodations that use landlines. For that, I use the Viber app. Viber has two ways to make calls - free calls to other Viber users (similar to WhatsApp), or using Viber credits to make very low cost calls - 2¢ US per minute. I buy $5 worth of Viber credit before my Camino, and it is more than enough for the calls that I need to make during the Camino.
You really need advice from other Canadians about whether or not your current phone plan will be a good option for you, as Canadian plans can be much different from US, Australian, etc. plans.

Thanks for the info!! I'll check it out
 
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Crystal Marie

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019, My son walked the Camino in 2014
Any SIM card you purchase in an EU country (not sure about the UK) will work throughout continental Europe. A law was passed about a year or so again, disallowing expensive roaming charges from one EU country to the other. Most airports have kiosks where you can purchase the SIM card when you land, for very inexpensive (about 20 E) for plenty of gigs of data that is good for a month. You can, for a small extra amount, also get voice, which is very handy to call/text to book ahead if you do that, and stay in touch with family back home if needed when the WIFI is not so great. I have an elderly mother and this was important to me, as she doesn't text or use the internet. I prefer Vodaphone, but no matter who you chose as a carrier, they will change the SIM card for you, and set you up very quickly and efficiently. It all depends on your needs and wants.
This is great Elle! Thank you for your advice.
 

Crystal Marie

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019, My son walked the Camino in 2014
I am also from the land of expensive phone plans and I have done 2.5 Caminos. I did not use either a roaming plan nor a sim card. Wifi was sufficient for my needs. I used the Skype app (like Viber) to make local calls with wifi and I used the Locus map app (downloaded Spain) offline. These maps showed the actual Camino paths and certainly helped get me through the confusion of the larger cities. Facetime worked to talk back home.
Hi Martin, Thanks for this advice! I've never head about Viber or Locus Map. I've downloaded the Miam Miam Dodo app (off line as well, so am hoping to be able to use that as I walk). I use WhatsApp a lot already so hopefully that will work out! Ahh Decisions!
 

Crystal Marie

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019, My son walked the Camino in 2014
Hi Martin, Thanks for this advice! I've never head about Viber or Locus Map. I've downloaded the Miam Miam Dodo app (off line as well, so am hoping to be able to use that as I walk). I use WhatsApp a lot already so hopefully that will work out! Ahh Decisions!
To make a call on a US or Canadian smartphone when you are in Europe, you must dial:

+34.123.456.789

The “+” tells the system that this is a call to another country. You may physically be in Spain, but your phone still thinks it is at home.

The “34” is the country code, in this case Spain.

The remainder of the string is the local phone number.

Depending on your home cellular plan, this can be expensive. Caveat emptor...

Using my US t-Mobile Simple Choice 55+ plan, data and text out of the US is unlimited and free. T-Mobile only get difficult once I am foreign more than 30 calendar days at a go. When I land at Madrid, my phone just boots up and connects to either Vodafone.es or orange.es.

All voice calls placed while I am physically out of the US cost USD .25 per minute. So a local call in Spain to make or confirm a reservation would cost 25 US cents per minute.

Living in Canada, your cellular provider options are different and may be more limited or expensive. Shop around.

Before swapping SIM cards, I would find out if your phone can make Wi-Fi calls. If it can, you put your phone in airplane mode, turn only Wi-Fi on, and place your phone call as a a VOIP (voice over internet protocol) call. Of course, you need a good Wi-Fi signal to do this.

If using your home cellular provider is either not possible, or is too expensive for you, you can pick up an Orange.es or Vodafone.es SIM on arrival in Spain. Make sure you get generous data and text. Voice is good to have, but less essential, at least IMHO.

Hope this helps.
Really appreciate the advice! Thank you
 

Crystal Marie

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019, My son walked the Camino in 2014
Hi, Crystal. . .

Some of the choice depends on your current company's international phone plan and what you think you will be using your phone for. . data heavy or voice or both?

For example, with my T-Mobile plan, international data use is already included, but not voice. However, for texting and offline maps, WhatsApp or Facetime stuff, I'm good to go. If I need to establish an impromptu voice call, then I can still call at a per minute charge. But calling via WhatsApp works, too.
I use WhatsApp a lot already. I am wanting a bit of data primarily for my Miam Miam Dodo app... ahh decision!
 
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Telboyo

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
I intend to leave the UK the day Before Brexit and walkMarch -April 2019 Camino Frances
This is great Elle! Thank you for your advice.
This applies to SIM cards bought in the UK. If you for example buy an O2 SIM in the UK and then go to France or Spain you will not be limited to the O2 network, if you are roaming you get the best signal available. I had a good 4g signal on the whole of the CF. Such a good signal that I was able to stream music whilst walking. Download maps and share my hotspot with some Aussies on a few daysvetc. Still used less than 40 gigs in a month.
 

Elle Bieling

Elle Bieling, PilgrimageTraveler
Year of past OR future Camino
A total of eight in the past 6 years!
This applies to SIM cards bought in the UK. If you for example buy an O2 SIM in the UK and then go to France or Spain you will not be limited to the O2 network, if you are roaming you get the best signal available. I had a good 4g signal on the whole of the CF. Such a good signal that I was able to stream music whilst walking. Download maps and share my hotspot with some Aussies on a few daysvetc. Still used less than 40 gigs in a month.
Good to know! Thanks.
 

Elle Bieling

Elle Bieling, PilgrimageTraveler
Year of past OR future Camino
A total of eight in the past 6 years!
I am also from the land of expensive phone plans and I have done 2.5 Caminos. I did not use either a roaming plan nor a sim card. Wifi was sufficient for my needs. I used the Skype app (like Viber) to make local calls with wifi and I used the Locus map app (downloaded Spain) offline. These maps showed the actual Camino paths and certainly helped get me through the confusion of the larger cities. Facetime worked to talk back home.
Also good to know!
 

Crystal Marie

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019, My son walked the Camino in 2014
Hi Crystal, If you are going to purchase a SIM card in France, make sure that your phone is unlocked before your leave Canada! I thought that mine was, and it was not.... I managed fine with wifi, which is in "almost, but not all" bars and albergue/hotels and I used WhatsApp to talk to my husband. You can plug in your hotel address while using wifi in a bar and then use that map to get your to your destination, but if you lose the signal, you've lost your directions. There were a few times when I would have really, really enjoyed having data to use apple or google maps to help me find my hotel and to have a translator app. On Sunday afternoons, you sometimes have very limited choices for wifi. For 20 euro and a good plan, I would definitely go European SIM card next time.
Thanks for the advice
 
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Vendee52

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino France's SJPdP to Finisterre (2019)
Just returned from 35 days doing st jean to Finisterre using FREE from France where I live - it works just fine in U.K. France and Hungary not Austria - but despite also being sold in Spain it didn’t work all the time I was on the Camino which was very difficult since I followed a huge bulge in pilgrims after Easter causing albergues to be full and driving a need to phone ahead for beds - e mailing didn’t always work - Booking charges a fee the albergues don’t receive - on my return I’ve been to a FREE shop and their advice was 2 out of 10 (being kind) so I’m still uncertain about my functional coverage- buying another SIM card may be necessary for me but it shouldn’t be ! 👀
 

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