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So you’re in the United States, putting together a European adventure, but you have no idea how to use your phone abroad. If you’re traveling solo or visiting multiple countries, you’ll definitely want access to Google Maps. 

Maybe you’ve realized how much international phone plans cost (about $10 a day), so you’re thinking about a SIM card. This list of 7 things to know before buying a SIM Card in Europe will help to make your decision easy!

1. Which SIM Card is Best for Europe?

The Orange Holiday SIM card is a reliable and affordable way to use your phone in Europe, and they offer service in 30 European countries.

I paid $48.90, and my SIM card includes:

  • 30GB of Internet data
  • 1,000 texts 
  • 120 phone call minutes

I’ll be traveling for about a month, so 30GB is a good amount for using Google maps. Consider the length of your trip when choosing how many gigabytes you’ll need. And remember you can use wifi for calls and texts on Whatsapp. 

Here are the locations (as of 2022) where you can use your Orange Holiday SIM card: 

Andorra, Azores, Aland islands, Germany, Austria, Balearic islands, Belgium, Canary islands , Cyprus, Corfu, Crete, the Cyclades, Croatia, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, Faeroe islands, Finland, France (mainland), Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Isle of Man, Norway, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Rhodes, Romania, United Kingdom, San Marino, Sardinia, Sicily, Slovakia, Switzerland, Sweden, Vatican

2. Where to Buy the Orange Holiday SIM Card

I suggest buying your SIM card from Amazon before your trip. This eliminates the stress of buying one in the airport, and it’s also a bit cheaper and works in most European countries. You could buy your SIM card directly from the Orange Holiday website, but it will cost $12.70 for US shipping with UPS and $41.80 with FedEx.

3. Your Phone Must Be Unlocked

You must make sure your phone is unlocked, or you won’t be able to use the SIM card. Call your phone carrier to make sure your phone is unlocked. Verizon locks all of their phones for 60 days after the purchase of the phone, and AT&T will not unlock a phone until it’s completely paid off. Each phone carrier has different rules, so it’s extremely important to make sure your phone is unlocked prior to leaving the country with your SIM card.

4. Don’t Insert SIM Card in the US

Do not put the SIM card in your phone until you’re in Europe. The SIM card is activated the moment you insert it into your phone, so don’t use it until you’re at your destination. Depending on which SIM card you buy, it’s only valid for a certain time period, so the clock starts ticking as soon as you insert it. When you’re ready to use your SIM, you’ll need to activate it by following these simple steps.

5. You’ll Have a French Phone Number 

You will have a French phone number when you make calls or send texts, since Orange Holiday is owned by the French phone carrier, Orange. This means people won’t recognize your number if you call them using your SIM card, which isn’t a big deal but something to be aware of.

6. Google Fi is a Better Option for Google Phones

If you have an iPhone or Andriod, you can skip to number 7 on the list. But if you have a Google phone, you’re better off using Google Fi while in Europe. Google Fi is designed for Google phones, so it won’t be necessary to use a SIM card. However, Androids and iPhones are not as compatible with Google Fi, and you’ll be charged 20 cents a minute for phone calls and $10 per GB of data. Although the data cost is comparable to using a SIM card, I personally like the option of having included call minutes for emergencies.

7. Why Not Just Download Google Maps?

It’s possible to download Google Map locations to use offline, but you won’t have to rely on that with a SIM card. Downloading maps works well for small areas or specific routes, but you aren’t able to download entire cities or countries. However, I plan to download the route from the airport to my AirBnb in London, in case I have any issues activating my SIM card or just want to wait until I get to my AirBnb to activate my SIM card.

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