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Trying to find a thread with advice about cell phones

gertrong415

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Hoping for summer (2020)
I apologize in advance, because I know this topic has been discussed thoroughly in the past. I cannot find any threads on the various ways people keep in touch with home while on the Camino. If someone can point me to an established thread, that would be great.

I am American. Verizon is my carrier. Unfortunately, I will only be on Camino for 2 weeks. I know I have read extensive conversations about buying prepaid phones, changing SIM cards, etc. I just cannot find those threads.

Thanks for your help!
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I apologize in advance, because I know this topic has been discussed thoroughly in the past. I cannot find any threads on the various ways people keep in touch with home while on the Camino. If someone can point me to an established thread, that would be great.

I am American. Verizon is my carrier. Unfortunately, I will only be on Camino for 2 weeks. I know I have read extensive conversations about buying prepaid phones, changing SIM cards, etc. I just cannot find those threads.

Thanks for your help!
The cheapest way to keep in touch is via free messaging apps over wifi like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
You'll want to talk to Verizon about their international options, but I've known people who solely relied on wifi to keep in touch. You will find that most bars, albergues, hotels, etc. have free wifi available.
FYI - in Spain it's pronounced WEE - FEE.
 

gertrong415

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Hoping for summer (2020)
The cheapest way to keep in touch is via free messaging apps over wifi like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
You'll want to talk to Verizon about their international options, but I've known people who solely relied on wifi to keep in touch. You will find that most bars, albergues, hotels, etc. have free wifi available.
FYI - in Spain it's pronounced WEE - FEE.
Thank you. That is pretty much my plan, but just feel nervous about accidental charges. Do you just turn your phone on airplane mode in while you are walking? Turn off cellular data? I would love to be able to use my GPS tracking on my phone to log my route, but is there a way to do that without using data?
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Thank you. That is pretty much my plan, but just feel nervous about accidental charges. Do you just turn your phone on airplane mode in while you are walking? Turn off cellular data? I would love to be able to use my GPS tracking on my phone to log my route, but is there a way to do that without using data?
My carrier is T-Mobile, and their plan allows me to have unlimited data while I'm abroad for no extra charge, so I haven't had to worry about accidental charges.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
Hi Gertrong! A quick way to get started in your browsing is to enter "cell phone" in the Search box at the top right of your screen. Now I have added a tag "phones & electronics" under the title at the top of this thread, so if you click on it, you'll get a lot of threads. We don't seem to get as many enquiries about phones as we used to. Maybe it is due to fewer travelers since Covid or maybe because cell phones seem less mysterious than before.

For the minimal cost, I find it easiest to simply buy a new Spanish Sim card with data, local and international calling. The major networks - Vodaphone, Orange, Movistar - often have a 1-month plan designed for visitors. However, they keep changing, so I review those 3 companies close to my departure time and pick any one that seems convenient.
 
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andarapie

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
You will need to have access to a phone to make reservations at albergues (a necessity now and a good idea for the future too). Verizon will have some kind of international calling plan that you can subscribe to for the time you are in Spain, or you can buy a SIM card for a local carrier, as others have suggested.

GPS functions separately from cellular data - you can see where you are on a map with GPS even if you have no cellular connection. I highly recommend downloading a map of the camino you are walking which functions with GPS, because there are times when you will lose the camino or have questions about alternate routes and will want to know where you are going. Wise Pilgrim has good downloadable maps with their Camino apps, but I am sure there are others.

It is, of course, possible to walk a Camino without a phone, as people did in Ye Olde Times, 30 years ago, but having one will make your life much easier and help prevent having to sleep on park benches.
 

JLV

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Hey Gertrong,
If your phone is unlocked, a Movistar sim card is good. I would buy a cheap unlocked one if yours is not.
You can still use wi-fi without a sim card.
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Gertrong,
Whatever plan you do use remember that a phone and European assistance number 112 can provide invaluable emergency help. Luckily I have never personally needed such assistance, but over the years I have called 112 for other pilgrims who needed fast help and either had no phone or were unable to use a phone. ...In retrospect I would never walk without a phone. Carrying one may help save another walker's life.
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Thank you. That is pretty much my plan, but just feel nervous about accidental charges. Do you just turn your phone on airplane mode in while you are walking? Turn off cellular data? I would love to be able to use my GPS tracking on my phone to log my route, but is there a way to do that without using data?
Turn on airplane mode. That disables both wifi and cellular. Disabling wifi saves some battery because the phone isn't trying to connect when there isn't anything to connect to. When you get to a place you can turn wifi on without having to do anything for airplane mode.

Airplane mode doesn't affect GPS as that is just a radio receiver, unlike wifi and cellular which also transmit. It is transmissions that the airlines worry about. I usually always have GPS enabled and have photos set-up to have locations stored in my pictures. That also uses power but I'm okay for a day.

I use four GPS apps, Google Maps, OSMand, Maps.me and Wikiloc. They get their basemaps through wifi or cellular but all allow you to download the basemaps ahead of time instead.
 
Last edited:
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DyanTX

DyanTX
Past OR future Camino
CF Sept 22 - Nov 3, 2016
Thank you. That is pretty much my plan, but just feel nervous about accidental charges. Do you just turn your phone on airplane mode in while you are walking? Turn off cellular data? I would love to be able to use my GPS tracking on my phone to log my route, but is there a way to do that without using data?
Yes. Exactly what I did - keep phone on airplane mode the entire trip. Note: once you reach Spain, turn it off airplane mode just long enough to update the time to current time. Then turn it back to airplane mode. Works perfectly for GPS use. I kept my Kindle version guidebook open all day as I walked to refer to for suggested places to visit/see. Used wifi at night in the hostels.
 

J F Gregory

Portugal Central - October 2021
Past OR future Camino
2016
Thank you. That is pretty much my plan, but just feel nervous about accidental charges. Do you just turn your phone on airplane mode in while you are walking? Turn off cellular data? I would love to be able to use my GPS tracking on my phone to log my route, but is there a way to do that without using data?
I keep my phone in airplane mode and use WiFi.
 

Faye Walker

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
Last time I did a Spanish camino I landed in Madrid, took my phone directly to a Vodafone location int he airport and popped in a traveller's SIM card. I think I had 15 GB for 3 weeks, which in combination with WiFi at rest points was more than adequate.
Last time I did a camino at all, it was the CP, so I started from Lisbon. Same thing: went directly to the Vodafone kiosk and popped in a SIM there.
The traveller's plans are very very economical. You merely need a safe/secure place for your original domestic SIM. I tape mine inside my passport back cover.
When you return home, your traveller's SIM will expire, and your phone automatically switches back to your domestic provider when you return your original SIM to its port.
I have also used Orange; lots of people use Movistar.... I don't think it makes much difference. I have used Vodafone repeatedly because I am familiar with their services as they were my provider when I was living in Dublin.
BC
 

wabana

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
T mobile told me to leave cellular data ON all the time…no charge, per agreement with their Spain telco collab. (US) will only promise at least 2G service = 256kbps, enuf fo email, etc…
 
how to successfully prepare for your Camino
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Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
If you do use a Spanish SIM card family and friends will have to call or text internationally to that number to reach you in an emergency. Be sure to notify them of the number and make sure they know how to make international calls. Email will work but you would have to keep watching for messages.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
T mobile told me to leave cellular data ON all the time…no charge, per agreement with their Spain telco collab. (US) will only promise at least 2G service = 256kbps, enuf fo email, etc…
Right. With T-Mobile that's what you do, because they offer the free roaming data worldwide your your base plan. But people with other carriers don't want to have any nasty surprise bills.
BTW, I make calls for only 2 cents a minute using the Viber app and "Viber Out" credits. I usually buy a package of credits for $5, and that will last for much more than one Camino.


I also use free calling apps like WhatsApp and Facebook messenger to other users of those services.
 
Past OR future Camino
Sarria to Santiago 2014
Pamplona to Santiago 2017
Norte. 2018
I apologize in advance, because I know this topic has been discussed thoroughly in the past. I cannot find any threads on the various ways people keep in touch with home while on the Camino. If someone can point me to an established thread, that would be great.

I am American. Verizon is my carrier. Unfortunately, I will only be on Camino for 2 weeks. I know I have read extensive conversations about buying prepaid phones, changing SIM cards, etc. I just cannot find those threads.

Thanks for your help!
Have you looked at any of the Verizon international plans? I need to keep my cell number in case of an emergency at home so I pick one of their plans. I don’t want a Spain number.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Have you looked at any of the Verizon international plans? I need to keep my cell number in case of an emergency at home so I pick one of their plans. I don’t want a Spain number.
👍Talking to your current cell phone provider should always be the first step.
 
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Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Past OR future Camino
2022
I always buy dual SIM capable phones and when I get to Spain I buy a local SIM with data and minutes and then turn data roaming off on my permanent SIM.

This way I am reachable from home in an emergency on a number that everyone already knows and at the same time I have good, high speed communications while in Spain at a known cost.
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
I always buy dual SIM capable phones and when I get to Spain I buy a local SIM with data and minutes and then turn data roaming off on my permanent SIM.

This way I am reachable from home in an emergency on a number that everyone already knows and at the same time I have good, high speed communications while in Spain at a known cost.
To elaborate on what @Doughnut NZ wrote, as far as I know, with dual sims only one can be active at a time even if using e-sims (currently).

On my camino two years ago I used my Spanish SIM from wake-up to 8 PM my time (2 PM at home). I then switched over to my regular number, turned on airplane mode and then turned on wifi and called home for 2 or 3 cents per minute through my plan (Google FI) and the albergue's wifi. Things could be different with other plans. When done I then shut off airplane mode so if Peg had an emergency later in her afternoon she could call me using my regular number.

She did have instructions on how to call me with international dialling and my Spanish number. As a backup, an arrangement was made for her to call someone else familiar with Spain, caminos and international dialling in case she had problems. Thank you secret forum member. 🙏❤️
 
Last edited:

Mark Barnes

Old Engineer
Past OR future Camino
Frances - September - November (2017)
Walked 43 days in 2017. I have AT&T and got an international plan for four months. They sell them as an add on to your current plan for about $35.00 a month. I had unlimited text and call when on albergue wifi.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
1989
I apologize in advance, because I know this topic has been discussed thoroughly in the past. I cannot find any threads on the various ways people keep in touch with home while on the Camino. If someone can point me to an established thread, that would be great.

I am American. Verizon is my carrier. Unfortunately, I will only be on Camino for 2 weeks. I know I have read extensive conversations about buying prepaid phones, changing SIM cards, etc. I just cannot find those threads.

Thanks for your help!
Since no one seems to have mentioned it yet, this might be a good place to look: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/search-forums/phones-electronics.244/
 

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Past OR future Camino
2022
To elaborate on what @Doughnut NZ wrote, as far as I know, with dual sims only one can be active at a time even if using e-sims (currently).

On my camino two years ago I used my Spanish SIM from wake-up to 8 PM my time (2 PM at home). I then switched over to my regular number, turned on airplane mode and then turned on wifi and called home for 2 or 3 cents per minute through my plan (Google FI) and the albergue's wifi. Things could be different with other plans. When done I then shut off airplane mode so if Peg had an emergency later in her afternoon she could call me using my regular number.

She did have instructions on how to call me with international dialling and my Spanish number. As a backup, an arrangement was made for her to call someone else familiar with Spain, caminos and international dialling in case she had problems. Thank you secret forum member. 🙏❤️
Unfortunately, you got it mixed up this time 😉. Both SIMs are capable of receiving calls at any time. I don't have to switch one off and one on for calls. It is similar for calling outbound although I make one SIM the default.

Data services are different. Only one SIM can be active for data at a time but I only need one and that is why I ensure that my home SIM is set to not roam on data.
 
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This book's focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared.
When you walk the Camino, and suddenly a pandemic appears

gertrong415

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Hoping for summer (2020)
Hi Gertrong! A quick way to get started in your browsing is to enter "cell phone" in the Search box at the top right of your screen. Now I have added a tag "phones & electronics" under the title at the top of this thread, so if you click on it, you'll get a lot of threads. We don't seem to get as many enquiries about phones as we used to. Maybe it is due to fewer travelers since Covid or maybe because cell phones seem less mysterious than before.

For the minimal cost, I find it easiest to simply buy a new Spanish Sim card with data, local and international calling. The major networks - Vodaphone, Orange, Movistar - often have a 1-month plan designed for visitors. However, they keep changing, so I review those 3 companies close to my departure time and pick any one that seems convenient.
Thank you!
 

gertrong415

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Hoping for summer (2020)
To elaborate on what @Doughnut NZ wrote, as far as I know, with dual sims only one can be active at a time even if using e-sims (currently).

On my camino two years ago I used my Spanish SIM from wake-up to 8 PM my time (2 PM at home). I then switched over to my regular number, turned on airplane mode and then turned on wifi and called home for 2 or 3 cents per minute through my plan (Google FI) and the albergue's wifi. Things could be different with other plans. When done I then shut off airplane mode so if Peg had an emergency later in her afternoon she could call me using my regular number.

She did have instructions on how to call me with international dialling and my Spanish number. As a backup, an arrangement was made for her to call someone else familiar with Spain, caminos and international dialling in case she had problems. Thank you secret forum member. 🙏❤️
Thank you! This is very helpful.
 

gertrong415

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Hoping for summer (2020)
Hi Gertrong! A quick way to get started in your browsing is to enter "cell phone" in the Search box at the top right of your screen. Now I have added a tag "phones & electronics" under the title at the top of this thread, so if you click on it, you'll get a lot of threads. We don't seem to get as many enquiries about phones as we used to. Maybe it is due to fewer travelers since Covid or maybe because cell phones seem less mysterious than before.

For the minimal cost, I find it easiest to simply buy a new Spanish Sim card with data, local and international calling. The major networks - Vodaphone, Orange, Movistar - often have a 1-month plan designed for visitors. However, they keep changing, so I review those 3 companies close to my departure time and pick any one that seems convenient.
Thank you! I was searching cell phone and not getting what I wanted. It looks like "phones" would have been the better search.

Also thank you for the SIM card information.
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Unfortunately, you got it mixed up this time 😉.
Thanks for straightening me out. I couldn't have gotten calls on both with my Pixel 2 but then other dual sim things weren't quite advanced enough at that either. I'll read more carefully about this in the future (but I did add "as far as I know").
Both SIMs are capable of receiving calls at any time.
When you do get a call I suppose you see a name or number of who is calling but do you also see what network the call is coming on? This could be important for someone who has a personal number and another for business.
Data services are different. Only one SIM can be active for data at a time
I suppose choosing for any outbound signal is needed for billing purposes.
 
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300m from the cathedral and around the corner from the fresh food market in Santiago. Perfect place to tele commute from (1GB symmetrical connection).
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Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Past OR future Camino
2022
Thanks for straightening me out. I couldn't have gotten calls on both with my Pixel 2 but then other dual sim things weren't quite advanced enough at that either. I'll read more carefully about this in the future (but I did add "as far as I know").

When you do get a call I suppose you see a name or number of who is calling but do you also see what network the call is coming on? This could be important for someone who has a personal number and another for business.

I suppose choosing for any outbound signal is needed for billing purposes.
Screenshot_20210807-002140~2.png
The image above shows my current situation on my Nokia 7.2 running Android 10. I have pulled down the info bar from the top of the screen and cropped it for some privacy.

At the top right you can see that I currently have both SIM slots active and in this case both are connected to Vodafone Aotearoa.

I can receive a call on one SIM, put it on hold and call out on the other one, but then this is also possible on a single SIM phone.

I can't have two calls running simultaneously, one must be on hold but I can switch back and forth multiple times.

Rather which network showing up when I get a call I see which of my two phone numbers is receiving the call.

In my case both SIMs are on the same network but I have used the phone with SIMs on different networks (particularly in Spain) but also here.

When I was on the road a lot I used two networks because they had different coverage holes and if my default network was in a hole it would switch automatically to the other network if that had coverage.

I can't phone myself.
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Rather which network showing up when I get a call I see which of my two phone numbers is receiving the call.
Thanks for the info @Doughnut NZ .

One more question, when receiving a call does your screen show which one of your numbers is getting the call or does it show an alias you give for the numbers, e.g. Private or Business? I ask because I have some nearly identical phone numbers (but currently used on different devices). At a glance I could get confused if numbers were shown.
 

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Past OR future Camino
2022
I checked and it shows an alias. In Settings on my phone, under Network & Internet is SIM cards. Within the settings for each SIM card I get to name the SIM. It is that name that shows up and so you can choose anything.

You also get to choose a colour for that SIM and that is probably even more useful than the name because the name is shown in a very small font where as the colour is more noticeable, provided you remember it.
 

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Past OR future Camino
2022
BTW, I also have to choose which SIM is the default for SMS TXT messages. When sending a txt (I use Signal) I can choose which SIM to send from but I need to actively do that. By default it will always be sent by the SIM that I declared as the default one at the phone level (i.e. this is not a Signal option).
 

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