Search 57,387 Camino Questions

A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it


Advertisement
Original artwork based on your pilgrimage or other travel photos.
Peaceable Projects Inc.
Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.

SIM Cards Again

Doogman

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
?
Hello Everyone:

There have been quite a number of threads about SIM cards (which networks to use, where to buy them, cost, etc.), but for those like me that are not technologically savvy, I have not seen anything that explains what actually happens when you purchase and install a local SIM card. For example, I understand that you will now have a local phone number, so assuming you are in Spain, you would have a Spanish number. This has obvious implications for making/receiving telephone calls. The implications for text messages are presumably the same. I also understand that you receive a data package that makes browsing the web much more affordable than many domestic networks would charge for roaming. However, I hope that someone could help explain the following:

1. What happens with e-mails? Can you send/receive messages using your regular e-mail address? Is it a seamless process, or do you need to somehow install your e-mail address on the new SIM card?

2. Same question with apps: Are any apps that you already have on your phone (MAPS.ME, Booking.com, Kindle, etc.) still on your phone, or do you need to somehow download them again?

3. Is there anything else important to know?

Thanks in advance for any help!
 
Donation to the Forum
A donation to this forum helps it continue to exists and also removes all ads for you.
Rent a house in Santiago (1 month minimum)
300m from the cathedral and around the corner from the fresh food market in Santiago. Perfect place to tele commute from (1GB symmetrical connection).

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
Good questions - Same as I asked when I first started traveling internationally with a smart phone!

Your phone will connect you to the internet, so all of the accounts that you have on the internet will still be available once you sign in. You would sign into your email account the same way as you would at home from another computer. Same for Facebook and other social media.

The apps on your phone (maps.me, booking.com, kindle, etc.) will all be available exactly as before.

The person at the phone store will pop your new card in, give you the old one to store in a safe place, and you should do some checks that everything works right, before you leave.

Your phone number will be different, as you know. I have found that phone-based text messages can be limited or more expensive with Spanish plans, so it is better to establish an internet-based communication with your family - using Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, for example.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
I should add that I have always found that a few GB of data (available in most plans) is plenty for normal usage on the Camino. At home I have 5 GB/month and never go over, and the same is more than enough on the Camino, since I am not downloading movies, etc.

I would look for a plan with 60 minutes local and international combined (I don't have long conversations with home when I travel) and 3-5 GB data. I carry a backup power pack that is good for a couple of charges. Then I am very confident of keeping all the communications that I want or need. I have a European charger. If you take the little adaptor (this is all you need), be sure to duct-tape it to your plug. Otherwise you will certainly leave it behind sooner or later. In that case, you would just need to buy a European charger.
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
If we know more about you and your phone we could help you out better.

Please tell us the make and model of your phone and also your home network provider and plan. Will you be making lots of calls and texts home? Do you think you will be using the internet much when walking (at bars, restaurants and lodgings you can probably connect to their wifi for free instead of paying for cellular data or eating up whatever allotment you have prepaid.) Is your phone unlocked? By that I mean does your network provider allow you to switch networks, at least temporarily. You may have to give them a call.
 
Camino Socks
Browse the Camino Socks collection on the forum shop
Camino Jewellery
A selection of Camino Jewellery

Doogman

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
?
Thanks to all that have responded. I have an iPhone SE, and my local provider here in Canada is Rogers. It would likely cost me $400-$500 Canadian to simply use their roaming for my planned trip. Unless there is some way by looking at the phone (Settings?), I'll have to call them to ensure that the phone is unlocked.

I don't plan on making a lot of calls home. I could probably get by just using wifi along the route; however, I like the freedom to use the phone/internet when I want to or need to, at a reasonable price. I like to book accommodation a day or two in advance, so that is one use. I plan to walk the Levante (Valencia to Toledo) in October. Thanks again!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
Price in Spain will be very reasonable - around 20 Euros for a month. I prefer the convenience and independence of having it, and then I don't have to be one of those pilgrims who immediately asks for the wifi password when I walk into a bar!

If your phone is fairly new, it is likely unlocked because I think that become a requirement a couple of years ago. But you should confirm it.

WhatsApp is very commonly used in Spain, including many albergue operators, so it would be useful to put it on your phone and figure out how to use it.
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
I have an iPhone SE, and my local provider here in Canada is Rogers.
I looked up Rogers' international roaming plan. $14/day. You will want to get a Spanish SIM. Here is some good news though, your phone allows you to have two numbers. It is a dual-sim phone. There is a slot for a physical sim card for use by one provider and and esim for another provider. An esim is an electronic virtual sim without a card. This also means that you don't have to worry about an unlocked phone as you will still be using (and paying for) Rogers' service.

What I think you should do is to go to your provider and ask them to switch your sim for an esim with the same number. You can probably do this yourself. I did it easily on an Android phone but I knew how to look up the instructions. Take out the sim card and keep it with you on your trip just in case something goes bad. When you get to Spain get a physical sim card and insert it into your phone.

Then you have the cheap cellular data and can call locally with your Spanish number. People at home can still call you with your old number though because of the esim.

You'll have to learn how to switch between sims (and thus plans). Try getting instructions from Rogers.
 
Camino Way Markers
Original Camino Way markers made in bronze. Two models, one from Castilla & Leon and the other from Galicia.
Peaceable Projects Inc.
Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
What I think you should do is to go to your provider and ask them to switch your sim for an esim with the same number.
It occurred to me overnight that I should mention why you should do this with your current number. Two years ago none of the Spanish networks was able to support esims so I definitely needed a card. Possibly they can now but anyway you would feel better talking about this new procedure in advance at home with someone who natively speaks your language.

Also the staff might be familiar with some of the settings that you will use with the dual sim and at least show you where they are if not the best way to set them. These settings will probably include what the default number to use for calls, texts and data.

Edit: I agree with @Jas04 below that the transfer of your number from sim to esim should be easy and could be done without talking to staff in a store (I did it myself on an Android phone but I simply haven't used any Apple products to know for sure).

Another edit: On another recent thread about SIMs there was a discussion about using dual sims starting around post #21.
 
Last edited:

Jas04

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
My iPhone 12 Pro is dual-sim. My eSim is with my US provider - T-Mobile. My Spanish sim is a physical sim in my phone, It was super easy to change my T-Mobile number from a physical sim to an eSim. I was able to do it with a call to T-Mobile. I did not have to go to a store. And ... Buen Camino.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Only your phone number changes. Your email, apps, files stored on your phone all remain the same.
@trecile, I just now saw this thread on SIM cards and as soon as I read the OP's question I thought of you, knowing you would offer a good reply and yep, you were the first responder, followed by several other forum techies who gave good additional input.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
3. Is there anything else important to know?

I have also gotten tons of good info from @trecile and @Rick of Rick and Peg and now confidently get a Spanish sim card when I walk a camino.

For years I used Movistar, where I always found the staff to be unhelpful and frequently rude. Then in 2014, I was walking with someone who uses Vodafone, and she told me that I should have a vodafone sim so we could make free phone calls to each other. Since then, I have always used Vodafone and have found their staff all over Spain to be helpful and not condescending.

Vodafone’s three pre-paid plans have a minimal number of minutes of phone calls, so it is important to use wifi to communicate whenever possible. WhatsApp is by far the most useful app, especially because many hotels/pensiones/albergues use it so you can reserve ahead without incurring costs. I save my phone calls for emergencies and cases where no wifi alternative is available. I’ve added screen shots of the basic details of the three pre-pay plans.

There is one thing that may be just my problem, or a more general problem. In the US, I have an unlimited data plan, so I never keep track of how much I use. In one of my early vodafone years, I remembet getting a message after 8 days telling me my data was almost gone. I had not used data for much of anything (and I don’t remember which plan I had). People on the forum told me that it was probably the case that some of my apps were syncing or updating or downloading or doing something without my knowledge when I had the data on. Easy solution — I make sure to keep the data turned off except when I actually need to use it.

And as C Clearly reminds us, make sure to put your tiny sim card in a safe place. I always tape mine to the inside back cover of my passport.

Sorry if I veered off into off-topic areas, but I remember how daunting the whole sim card thing was for me. Buen camino, Laurie
 

Attachments

  • 7EED5D97-3150-47DC-A58B-E659F3D1B4FA.png
    7EED5D97-3150-47DC-A58B-E659F3D1B4FA.png
    563.3 KB · Views: 11
  • EC0AC771-63D0-4919-8ADA-2F5FA77A8F3A.png
    EC0AC771-63D0-4919-8ADA-2F5FA77A8F3A.png
    548.9 KB · Views: 11
  • D7132C9B-6D36-44B1-8382-E9A9F47041AD.png
    D7132C9B-6D36-44B1-8382-E9A9F47041AD.png
    743.7 KB · Views: 11

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Hello Everyone:

There have been quite a number of threads about SIM cards (which networks to use, where to buy them, cost, etc.), but for those like me that are not technologically savvy, I have not seen anything that explains what actually happens when you purchase and install a local SIM card. For example, I understand that you will now have a local phone number, so assuming you are in Spain, you would have a Spanish number. This has obvious implications for making/receiving telephone calls. The implications for text messages are presumably the same. I also understand that you receive a data package that makes browsing the web much more affordable than many domestic networks would charge for roaming. However, I hope that someone could help explain the following:

1. What happens with e-mails? Can you send/receive messages using your regular e-mail address? Is it a seamless process, or do you need to somehow install your e-mail address on the new SIM card?

2. Same question with apps: Are any apps that you already have on your phone (MAPS.ME, Booking.com, Kindle, etc.) still on your phone, or do you need to somehow download them again?

3. Is there anything else important to know?

Thanks in advance for any help!
Hi, I just wanted to add a couple of things. I almost always buy a sim card at Orange. Their plans work the best for me. I would say from what I have heard from Spaniards is that Vodafone and Orange are the two best carriers in terms of number of locations and coverage. Vodafone is the biggest. I would recommend going to one of these stores. Not a comment on the other carriers just that I have experience only with these two. If you go on their webpages (I know that Orange webpage has a tab for English) you can check out their monthly plans. There are some excellent plans this year that have large amounts of data and calls. More than you would need for 20Euros and some even less. They will set the phone up for you and everything that is on your phone will still be completely functional. My plan does not allow me to call the United States but I can receive calls from the United States and Mexico. My wife calls me on our internet home phone. She also calls as well as my daughters on WhatsApp. I would highly recommend downloading this free app if you do not have it. Most everyone in Europe texts with this app. Your new telephone number will change automatically to this app. I call my wife and kids on WhatsApp. I Your new number will appear to all your contacts on Whatsapp also. As I am also technologically challenged I leave it all to the experts.
Here is the Orange page with their plans in English. If you want to look more or if it does not appear in English scroll to the bottom of the page and click on English site.

Here are the plans from Vodafone. Use google chrome to open it so you can translate the page. I do not see the a tab for English. Now that I see them I probably will get a vodafone plan this time:
 
2021 Camino Guides
Most all Camino authors have decided to use 2020 guides for 2021, with free PDF files with updates coming in the spring. Get yours today.
Camino Cups
Browse our selection of Camino Cups on the forum store
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
I have also gotten tons of good info from @trecile and @Rick of Rick and Peg and now confidently get a Spanish sim card when I walk a camino.
Thanks but not really true. I know the theory of SIMs but when it comes to actually buying a plan and using it I'm still learning.

Two years ago was my first experience buying a SIM for travel. I had an Android dual sim phone and I used this feature for the first time. I had no problems with this but I did have confusion with the Spanish sim.

Before walking by myself for 3 weeks I spent 3 weeks in the Barcelona area touristing with Peg and a friend. I picked up an Orange sim from a vendor for 10€ that should have worked well for both calls and data. I had to use my rudimentary Spanish there. I'm still confused as to why exactly but I used up my plan way too fast. I stopped in an Orange shop where English was spoken. The plan I needed was their 15€ one. I bought that and then had no problems. I did have to renew it while walking but I did that in Huesca and had the luck to get another English speaker to help me out.

Some places have signs saying that English is spoken but they really mean that they have access to Google translate.

I kept getting free texts from Orange in Spanish that I was able to translate but couldn't really understand what they wanted. I ignored them and nothing bad happened. One text I did partially understand was that I could pay a bit more and get more data before my contract needed renewal. Since I had plenty anyway and couldn't figure out have to actually get more I ignored that too.

Even after my renewal expired Orange saved my phone number for a few months for a possible second renewal. At the end of the period they took the number away to reuse it.

Our friend used up her Orange data when back in the US rather than paying for more expensive data on her own plan.
 

RRat

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Planning 2017
Hello Everyone:

There have been quite a number of threads about SIM cards (which networks to use, where to buy them, cost, etc.), but for those like me that are not technologically savvy, I have not seen anything that explains what actually happens when you purchase and install a local SIM card. For example, I understand that you will now have a local phone number, so assuming you are in Spain, you would have a Spanish number. This has obvious implications for making/receiving telephone calls. The implications for text messages are presumably the same. I also understand that you receive a data package that makes browsing the web much more affordable than many domestic networks would charge for roaming. However, I hope that someone could help explain the following:

1. What happens with e-mails? Can you send/receive messages using your regular e-mail address? Is it a seamless process, or do you need to somehow install your e-mail address on the new SIM card?

2. Same question with apps: Are any apps that you already have on your phone (MAPS.ME, Booking.com, Kindle, etc.) still on your phone, or do you need to somehow download them again?

3. Is there anything else important to know?

Thanks in advance for any help!
While still at home purchase the cheapest sim card you can buy. I found one for around $10 at my local drug store. Try it on your phone. See what happens, how do you load it, is your phone unlocked, what questions should you be prepared if you have a problem? Now you should be better prepared on the Camino. The recommendations and instructions in these thread will make more sense.
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
@peregrina2000 posted this link on another thread. Even if you don't arrive through the Madrid airport the webpage gives you an idea of plans and costs.
 

Gerard Griffin

New Member
Simyo has a great plan, 5 euro a month gives you 5GB plus calls n messages for a month. Dual sim means no SIM switching, and you can top it up online after the initial purchase in a phone store or supermarket (Carrefour size).
 
Peaceable Projects Inc.
Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.
how to successfully prepare for your Camino
This book's focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared.

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
Does anyone know if one of the major service providers (Vodaphone, Orange etc.) will accept payment for three months rather than just for one? I had a problem recharging my service in Ponferrada when heading for the Invierno, and there were major challenges beginning the route as a result. I should prefer to pay upfront.
 

Ronald Boivin

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Hello Everyone:

There have been quite a number of threads about SIM cards (which networks to use, where to buy them, cost, etc.), but for those like me that are not technologically savvy, I have not seen anything that explains what actually happens when you purchase and install a local SIM card. For example, I understand that you will now have a local phone number, so assuming you are in Spain, you would have a Spanish number. This has obvious implications for making/receiving telephone calls. The implications for text messages are presumably the same. I also understand that you receive a data package that makes browsing the web much more affordable than many domestic networks would charge for roaming. However, I hope that someone could help explain the following:

1. What happens with e-mails? Can you send/receive messages using your regular e-mail address? Is it a seamless process, or do you need to somehow install your e-mail address on the new SIM card?

2. Same question with apps: Are any apps that you already have on your phone (MAPS.ME, Booking.com, Kindle, etc.) still on your phone, or do you need to somehow download them again?

3. Is there anything else important to know?

Thanks in advance for any help!
Everywhere I travel I bring an older light cell phone with me and only change that SIM card. In this way, I do not risk screwing up my own good phone. I use my good one when I have free wifi but I leave the data roaming off.
 

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Past OR future Camino
2022
Does anyone know if one of the major service providers (Vodaphone, Orange etc.) will accept payment for three months rather than just for one?
Yes. I do this when I know that I will be in Spain for longer than the initial period. I buy the SIM and pay enough extra to cover a renewal or two.

It probably also pays to check with the people installing the SIM for you that your account is set up to auto renew, provided it has enough credit.

I have also topped up my account online using a credit card. Vodafone conveniently has an English language option for this although it wasn't easy to find at first.

If you are not particularly technology literate then I recommend paying a few Euros more than the standard renewal fee at the beginning. This is because there are sometimes small gotcha fees that are not covered within the included services such as a 20 cent fee for using voicemail, as an example. If you only pre-pay the exact amount needed for two top ups and then you are charged some unexpected fees then your last renewal won't go through.

This much less of a problem if you know how to check your current balance with the service provider and you are prepared to make small top ups online using a credit card.
I had a problem recharging my service in Ponferrada when heading for the Invierno, and there were major challenges beginning the route as a result. I should prefer to pay upfront.
 
Last edited:

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Past OR future Camino
2022
My wife calls me on our internet home phone. She also calls as well as my daughters on WhatsApp.
I would highly recommend downloading this free app if you do not have it. Most everyone in Europe texts with this app. Your new telephone number will change automatically to this app. I call my wife and kids on WhatsApp. I Your new number will appear to all your contacts on Whatsapp also.
I regularly see people recommending Whatsapp on this forum. It is probably also factual that many Spanish people and businesses use WhatsApp.

I don't use WhatsApp, nor do I use Facebook. I am concerned about my loss of privacy and the insecurity of both these applications.

I use Signal as an alternative to WhatsApp. I don't use any alternative to Facebook.

I do use other applications that have negative privacy implications such as Google search (signed in) and other Google products such as Maps and Chrome. In the case of my use of these products I have assessed that the value of using them is greater than the negative privacy implications.

If you are personally not concerned about these issues then WhatsApp is something you could consider using.

PS @lt56ny this is not meant as a criticism of you or your use of WhatsApp. You post was simply a convenient reminder for me to comment on this subject. 🙏
 
Last edited:

evanlow

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances06
Primitivo07
Plata08
Norte12
Levante(14-15)
Vasco16
Mozarabe(16-17)
Madrid17
Portuguese18
Are you walking to Spain? If so then here's a surprise. Most Portuguese sim card won't work in Spain despite the fact that there are supposed to work in all EU countries. On a flip side they cost about half what you pay in Spain.

I got to the first town in Spain after the border crossing and the sim stopped working. Have to get another sim in Spain.
 
Donation to the Forum
A donation to this forum helps it continue to exists and also removes all ads for you.
Original artwork based on your pilgrimage or other travel photos.

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Past OR future Camino
2022
Are you walking to Spain? If so then here's a surprise. Most Portuguese sim card won't work in Spain despite the fact that there are supposed to work in all EU countries. On a flip side they cost about half what you pay in Spain.

I got to the first town in Spain after the border crossing and the sim stopped working. Have to get another sim in Spain.
You need to turn on roaming.

Most phones from countries outside of Europe have roaming turned off by default as roaming charges outside of Europe can be very expensive. Within Europe they were sensible enough to outlaw excessive roaming charges.

What that means is that if you bring a phone into Europe you should check to see that you have roaming set on for the European SIM card.
 
Last edited:

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Past OR future Camino
2022
Further to my post about WhatsApp, The Guardian has an article today that reports that a village in the south of Spain wants UNESCO to declare outdoor, person to person chatting as a World Heritage custom. Here chatting person to person is preferred over electronic chatting.
 

evanlow

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances06
Primitivo07
Plata08
Norte12
Levante(14-15)
Vasco16
Mozarabe(16-17)
Madrid17
Portuguese18
You need to turn on roaming.

Most phones from countries outside of Europe have roaming turned off by default as roaming charges outside of Europe can be very expensive. Within Europe they were sensible enough to outlaw excessive roaming charges.

What that means is that if you bring a phone into Europe you should check to see that you have roaming set on for the European SIM card.
Roaming doesn't work for most Portuguese sim. But a Spanish sim can work in Portugal. It explains the price difference..
 
Past OR future Camino
April / May (2016) CF
Thanks to all that have responded. I have an iPhone SE, and my local provider here in Canada is Rogers. It would likely cost me $400-$500 Canadian to simply use their roaming for my planned trip. Unless there is some way by looking at the phone (Settings?), I'll have to call them to ensure that the phone is unlocked.

I don't plan on making a lot of calls home. I could probably get by just using wifi along the route; however, I like the freedom to use the phone/internet when I want to or need to, at a reasonable price. I like to book accommodation a day or two in advance, so that is one use. I plan to walk the Levante (Valencia to Toledo) in October. Thanks again!
You will be glad you have the sim for email/ internet browsing. The wifi in many places was extremely slow.
 

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Past OR future Camino
2022
Roaming doesn't work for most Portuguese sim. But a Spanish sim can work in Portugal. It explains the price difference..
@evanlow has raised a good point that hasn't been covered. Most of the mobile network providers in Portugal and Spain offer special, short-term deals aimed at package tourists. Typically these are 15-30 day deals that can not be renewed, often have high data volumes (to appeal to younger tourists) and appear to offer very cheap costs.

Typically these deals do not allow roaming because they are designed for tourists who come for a couple of weeks in a resort that they don't leave often.

Unless you are only staying for a short period and won't leave the country where you buy the SIM then don't buy these deals.

Best to check that the SIM and deal that you are purchasing is able to be renewed and allows for roaming.

This site https://prepaid-data-sim-card.fandom.com/wiki/Portugal suggests that "Data-only SIM cards are mostly excluded from roaming" and may not be renewable.

This site https://toomanyadapters.com/buying-sim-card-portugal/ suggests that Vodafones GO Data package does not allow roaming.
 
Learn Spanish for the Camino
Enhance your Camino experience by learning about the Spanish language and culture.
Camino Way Markers
Original Camino Way markers made in bronze. Two models, one from Castilla & Leon and the other from Galicia.

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I regularly see people recommending Whatsapp on this forum. It is probably also factual that many Spanish people and businesses use WhatsApp.

I don't use WhatsApp, nor do I use Facebook. I am concerned about my loss of privacy and the insecurity of both these applications.

I use Signal as an alternative to WhatsApp. I don't use any alternative to Facebook.

I do use other applications that have negative privacy implications such as Google search (signed in) and other Google products such as Maps and Chrome. In the case of my use of these products I have assessed that the value of using them is greater than the negative privacy implications.

If you are personally not concerned about these issues then WhatsApp is something you could consider using.

PS @lt56ny this is not meant as a criticism of you or your use of WhatsApp. You post was simply a convenient reminder for me to comment on this subject. 🙏
No worries. We all do what we think is best. My experience in Spain is that yes WhatsApp is widely used. I live in Mexico and I can tell you that in Mexico as well as all of Latin America it is by far the number 1 means of communication. Everyone texts on WhatsApp very few people communicate by telephone. 90% of the time even my wife contacts me this way.😄
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
1989
Hello Everyone:

There have been quite a number of threads about SIM cards (which networks to use, where to buy them, cost, etc.), but for those like me that are not technologically savvy, I have not seen anything that explains what actually happens when you purchase and install a local SIM card. For example, I understand that you will now have a local phone number, so assuming you are in Spain, you would have a Spanish number. This has obvious implications for making/receiving telephone calls. The implications for text messages are presumably the same. I also understand that you receive a data package that makes browsing the web much more affordable than many domestic networks would charge for roaming. However, I hope that someone could help explain the following:

1. What happens with e-mails? Can you send/receive messages using your regular e-mail address? Is it a seamless process, or do you need to somehow install your e-mail address on the new SIM card?

2. Same question with apps: Are any apps that you already have on your phone (MAPS.ME, Booking.com, Kindle, etc.) still on your phone, or do you need to somehow download them again?

3. Is there anything else important to know?

Thanks in advance for any help!
What changes:
  • Your cellular service provider. While the new SIM is in place, your phone will effectively cease to be found by your old cellular provider. You won't be using their minutes or messaging or data. You will have a new provider (Vodaphone or Orange or whichever provided the SIM card)
  • Your phone plan. With the new provider comes a new plan that your usage will be counted against. Your usage counts against this new plan while the SIM is in your phone. When you take it out and replace it with your old SIM, your usage counts against your old plan.
  • Your phone number. With your new provider comes a new phone number. This will likely be local to wherever you bought the new SIM card.
  • [Edited to add] Some encrypted message apps. Some message apps seem to use the SIM card for the encryption and may stop working if the SIM card is no longer available (because you've swapped it out) until you re-register with the new SIM card or replace the old SIM card.
What does not change:
  • Anything stored on your phone. This includes apps (and associated info, like downloaded maps for offline use of Camino apps or downloaded dictionaries for offline use of Google Translate), music, e-books, photos, etc.
  • Anything you access on the Internet. This includes websites, and information you store on them: Gmail, Google Maps, Google Translate, YouTube, Facebook, this forum, etc.
  • Anything stored on SD cards in your phone
  • In my experience, your text messaging apps will not change. You will not lose your conversations. Apps and stored data are persistent. But while the new SIM is in the phone, people will need to use the new phone number to send a text message to you. As mentioned above, some have experienced differently when using apps with certain kinds of encryption.
 
Last edited:

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Past OR future Camino
2022
What changes:
  • Your cellular service provider. While the new SIM is in place, your phone will effectively cease to be found by your old cellular provider. You won't be using their minutes or messaging or data. You will have a new provider (Vodaphone or Orange or whichever provided the SIM card)
  • Your phone plan. With the new provider comes a new plan that your usage will be counted against. Your usage counts against this new plan while the SIM is in your phone. When you take it out and replace it with your old SIM, your usage counts against your old plan.
  • Your phone number. With your new provider comes a new phone number. This will likely be local to wherever you bought the new SIM card.
What does not change:
  • Anything stored on your phone. This includes apps (and associated info, like downloaded maps for offline use of Camino apps or downloaded dictionaries for offline use of Google Translate), music, e-books, photos, etc.
  • Anything you access on the Internet. This includes websites, and information you store on them: Gmail, Google Maps, Google Translate, YouTube, Facebook, this forum, etc.
  • Anything stored on SD cards in your phone
  • In my experience, your text messaging apps will not change. You will not lose your conversations. Apps and stored data are persistent. But while the new SIM is in the phone, people will need to use the new phone number to send a text message to you.
Not quite correct but a decent attempt.

The last point needs more information. Some apps, in my case Signal, but for others probably WhatsApp that encrypt messages and phone calls use information on the SIM card to identify you. When you take your old SIM out of a single SIM card phone and put a different SIM in these apps can no longer identify you and your contacts can no longer contact you using these apps.

Things are different again with a dual SIM phone.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
1989
Not quite correct but a decent attempt.

The last point needs more information. Some apps, in my case Signal, but for others probably WhatsApp that encrypt messages and phone calls use information on the SIM card to identify you. When you take your old SIM out of a single SIM card phone and put a different SIM in these apps can no longer identify you and your contacts can no longer contact you using these apps.

Things are different again with a dual SIM phone.
Thats weird. I installed WhatsApp on my Camino Portugues when I had the Portuguese SIM in the phone and haven't had issues using it to continue conversations after I restored my Canadian SIM upon my return home.
 
When you walk the Camino, and suddenly a pandemic appears
Camino Way Markers
Original Camino Way markers made in bronze. Two models, one from Castilla & Leon and the other from Galicia.

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Thats weird. I installed WhatsApp on my Camino Portugues when I had the Portuguese SIM in the phone and haven't had issues using it to continue conversations after I restored my Canadian SIM upon my return home.
The same thing has happened to me. I installed whatsapp on my phone when I was in Spain with a Spanish Sim. Three or four switches back and forth to different Spanish Sim cards and my WhatsApp continues to work. I never could figure out how this could possibly work, but I am very happy that it does.
 

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Past OR future Camino
2022
The same thing has happened to me. I installed whatsapp on my phone when I was in Spain with a Spanish Sim. Three or four switches back and forth to different Spanish Sim cards and my WhatsApp continues to work. I never could figure out how this could possibly work, but I am very happy that it does.
I don't use WhatsApp and so I bow to both of you's greater expertise on this. In my case, Signal refused to work with a new SIM unless I revalidated it. I couldn't be bothered revalidating it and so I left it as is and on my return home and with my usual SIM it restarted working.

While WhatsApp originally used the open source Signal technology for its encrypted communications it has, since Facebook purchased it, moved away from the open source code with its own modifications.

The other possibility is that you are not using WhatsApp's encryption. As I say, I don't use WhatsApp and so I don't know if you can turn this on/off or if it is permanently on.

It is possible that WhatsApp uses your phone IMEI for its encryption. This code stays with your physical phone handset and so would not change for a different SIM but would need revalidating if you moved to a new handset.

Regardless, some app functionality for some apps IS affected when you change SIM cards.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
1989
I don't use WhatsApp and so I bow to both of you's greater expertise on this. In my case, Signal refused to work with a new SIM unless I revalidated it. I couldn't be bothered revalidating it and so I left it as is and on my return home and with my usual SIM it restarted working.

While WhatsApp originally used the open source Signal technology for its encrypted communications it has, since Facebook purchased it, moved away from the open source code with its own modifications.

The other possibility is that you are not using WhatsApp's encryption. As I say, I don't use WhatsApp and so I don't know if you can turn this on/off or if it is permanently on.

It is possible that WhatsApp uses your phone IMEI for its encryption. This code stays with your physical phone handset and so would not change for a different SIM but would need revalidating if you moved to a new handset.

Regardless, some app functionality for some apps IS affected when you change SIM cards.
I've updated the post to reflect this wrinkle.
 

patgreen

Member
Not quite correct but a decent attempt.

The last point needs more information. Some apps, in my case Signal, but for others probably WhatsApp that encrypt messages and phone calls use information on the SIM card to identify you. When you take your old SIM out of a single SIM card phone and put a different SIM in these apps can no longer identify you and your contacts can no longer contact you using these apps.

Things are different again with a dual SIM phone.
I've used WhatsApp and changed to a SIM card with a different number. All my existing contacts could still contact me, just like before. I can't remember what happened to new contacts. The only issue I know about is if you had to reinstall WhatsApp and wanted it to use your old number you would have to put your old sim back in just to register the app.
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
I've used WhatsApp and changed to a SIM card with a different number. All my existing contacts could still contact me, just like before. I can't remember what happened to new contacts. The only issue I know about is if you had to reinstall WhatsApp and wanted it to use your old number you would have to put your old sim back in just to register the app.
Here's what the help center has to say:
 
Create your own ad
€1,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
Peaceable Projects Inc.
Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.

Canche

Volcano Climber
Past OR future Camino
2016
Hello Everyone:

There have been quite a number of threads about SIM cards (which networks to use, where to buy them, cost, etc.), but for those like me that are not technologically savvy, I have not seen anything that explains what actually happens when you purchase and install a local SIM card. For example, I understand that you will now have a local phone number, so assuming you are in Spain, you would have a Spanish number. This has obvious implications for making/receiving telephone calls. The implications for text messages are presumably the same. I also understand that you receive a data package that makes browsing the web much more affordable than many domestic networks would charge for roaming. However, I hope that someone could help explain the following:

1. What happens with e-mails? Can you send/receive messages using your regular e-mail address? Is it a seamless process, or do you need to somehow install your e-mail address on the new SIM card?

2. Same question with apps: Are any apps that you already have on your phone (MAPS.ME, Booking.com, Kindle, etc.) still on your phone, or do you need to somehow download them again?

3. Is there anything else important to know?

Thanks in advance for any help!
Do not, under any circumstances, change the phone number on Whatsapp. Leave it as is or you will lose messages.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
I installed whatsapp on my phone when I was in Spain with a Spanish Sim. Three or four switches back and forth to different Spanish Sim cards and my WhatsApp continues to work. I never could figure out how this could possibly work, but I am very happy that it does.
Do not, under any circumstances, change the phone number on Whatsapp. Leave it as is or you will lose messages.
I don't understand the details, but the way I describe it is that the phone number that was used to set up your WhatsApp account in the first place, is now your username forever. So you continue to use that user name on WhatsApp, even from a new phone, Sim card, or computer.
 
Past OR future Camino
2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Various routes...
In one of my early vodafone years, I remembet getting a message after 8 days telling me my data was almost gone. I had not used data for much of anything (and I don’t remember which plan I had). People on the forum told me that it was probably the case that some of my apps were syncing or updating or downloading or doing something without my knowledge when I had the data on. Easy solution — I make sure to keep the data turned off except when I actually need to use it.
Important! ☝️
The other thing to be clear about is whether you can easily top up data. I had some strife about this with Movistar (sorry, can't remember the details), and not even the tech person in one of their shops could figure out how to resolve it.

use Signal as an alternative to WhatsApp. I don't use any alternative to Facebook.
Ditto.
Some apps, in my case Signal, but for others probably WhatsApp that encrypt messages and phone calls use information on the SIM card to identify you. When you take your old SIM out of a single SIM card phone and put a different SIM in these apps can no longer identify you
Oh! Good to know!!
So with a dual SIM, do you just leave both on? And if so, does Signal exclusively use the original SIM? My profound ignorance is showing, but would that not be massively expensive?
 

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Past OR future Camino
2022
Signal! ☝️
......
So with a dual SIM, do you just leave both on? And if so, does Signal exclusively use the original SIM? My profound ignorance is showing, but would that not be massively expensive?
My memory is fading, sorry. My set up is slightly complex as I use both SIMs in ANZ as part of my normal set-up and so in Spain I take out my "business" SIM and replace it with a Spanish SIM while leaving my "personal" SIM in.

In my case, doing this caused Signal to ask me to re-validate. I decided not to re-validate because it can get complex and then, as a result, Signal stopped working.

I guess that this was a safety feature in case someone else got my phone, put a new SIM in and tried to act as if they were me.

This wasn't too much of an issue because in the normal case I only use Signal for my (encrypted) SMS TXTs. I don't ordinarily use Signal for encrypted phone calls. My intention was to rely on the standard Android SMS tool for any txt messages and my usual contacts would be able to see that any messages from me were unencrypted and unverified.

From (fuzzy) memory, what actually happened was somewhat unexpected.

Signal insisted on receiving SMS messages sent to my "personal" sim but would not let me read them. I could send and receive SMS messages on my Spanish SIM. For my personal contacts back in ANZ I just told them not to txt me and to use email instead. For any local txting I used the Spanish SIM and it wasn't an issue except that I had exchanged phone numbers with another pilgrim and I had given them my "personal" ANZ number as it was easiest to remember. I didn't have an email address and so I lost contact with this person.

This memory is fuzzy and so I may have got the details a bit skewwhiff but the outcome was that I had all sorts of problems trying to get and send SMS messages but everything else worked fine.

My advice for anyone who uses Signal would be try replacing the SIM (for a single SIM phone) or adding a SIM (for a dual SIM phone) while you are at home and you have all your resources around you rather than waiting until you get to Spain and seeing what happens there.

When I got back to ANZ and put my "business" SIM back in my phone Signal started working normally again without any need to re-validate.
 

Did not find what you were looking for? Search here

Popular Resources

“All” Albergues on the Camino Frances in one pdf ivar
  • Featured
“All” Albergues on the Camino Frances in one pdf
4.95 star(s) 101 ratings
Downloads
15,189
Updated
A selection of favorite albergues on the Camino Francés Ton van Tilburg
Favorite Albergues along the Camino Frances
4.83 star(s) 35 ratings
Downloads
7,869
Updated
Profile maps of all 34 stages of the Camino Frances ivar
Profile maps of all 34 stages of the Camino Frances
4.88 star(s) 24 ratings
Downloads
7,673
Updated

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Updates on YouTube

Camino Conversations

Most downloaded Resources

Top