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The advent of mobile devices like smart phones, tablets and GPS devices, not to mention laptop computers, have made travel in Europe all that much more easier. Not only can you make phone calls back to the US with more reliability but, at a fraction of the cost it use to be. For the long flights to Europe, smart devices provide hours of entertainment or while there on vacation , you can catch up on some business. Communicate with family and friends through emails, texting, blogging or social network sites. Smart devices are great for accessing local information wherever you are in Europe. Local weather, time, guide information, checking transportation updates, purchasing tickets, taking pictures or videos and a myriad of apps for local information.

Now these days, digital cameras allow us to instantly view pictures and edit them at the end of the day. No more developing film and waiting to see if those pictures you took turn out okay. Download them to your mobile device and send them out immediately. Add them to your web site or blog at the end of your travel day.

Yes we live in an electronic age that has many benefits for the traveler. One needs to have a little grasp of knowledge otherwise, it can turn out to be a deterrent.

Mobile Phones…

Will my mobile phone work in Europe? 

That depends on a numbers of factors.

  • First, mobile phones can operate on two main technologies, GSM and CDMA.  While Europe and the rest of the world went a single technology (GSM) so phones would work over boundary lines, US  companies decided to use different technologies of their own. Today some of the US carriers are selling phones that operate on the GSM technology but, at a different frequency then Europe’s. A GSM phone needs to operate at 900 -1800 hz. otherwise, it will not work in Europe.
  • Second, contact your provider and confirm whether your model phone operates on GSM or CDMA technology. If it is what some companies call a world or global phone, is is most likely a GSM technology phone. Even if you have a GSM phone, your provider may not be able to connect you to the European frequency. If you have a phone that uses the CDMA technology you will not be able to use it in Europe.
  • Third, if you have a phone with GSM technology you have some different options.
    • Most US carriers lock their phones. This locks you into their service so you will need to see if they offer international coverage on a separate plan. This coverage can be purchased for just the duration of time you are in Europe. This allows you to keep your phone number and use all the internet services. While this service can be the most convenient, it can also be costly for just a month.
    • If you have an unlocked phone you can purchased a compatible European SIM card to put in your phone once your in Europe. Buy a pre-paid service for as low was $20.00 for the time you are there. Remember to check with your current provider about all the options you have available. You can ask your provider to unlock your phone but, they can decline. If you want to use an unlocked phone, you may buy one on the internet from several sources. This may also be less expensive but, proceed with caution and buy from a reputable source.
  • Fourth, if you have a CDMA technology phone you may want to consider buying a pre-paid phone and service when you arrive in Europe. Phones are $20.00 and up but be careful to confirm the cost per minute charges for calls. These phones are not smart phones so you will be giving up on the many of the benefits smart phones offer. These phones can be purchased at airports, car rental offices and various retail locations throughout Europe. Even if you have a GSM phone you may want to just buy or rent a phone once you arrive.

You will have plenty of sources to get connected to the internet while in Europe. The question is whether you want to be able to connect to all the services while being mobile. Maybe you will only need a phone in the case of an emergency or to make local calls for reservations, etc.  Then use all your internet time calling back home, blogging, etc., while at your hotel connected to their wifi service or at a wifi hotspot.

Major Providers with International Call & Data Plans…
A. T. & T International Users Guide      
➾ T-Mobile Internationally       
➾ Verizon Global Services



You can save money by turning off roaming or putting your phone in airplane mode when traveling. Wherever wi-fi is available, turn on your services and connect to the internet. Rather than using your carriers services to call back home use an alternate internet service.

Calling Back Home Options…

Here are several other options that can save you more money other than using your phone provider when making phone calls. Using internet options may allow you to completely avoid using your phone service to make calls.

Using The Internet To Call Free…
Skype

This is an online application that allows you to call within Europe or back to the US. All you need is an internet connection to make a call to another phone number. However, you will need to buy a plan and Skype has several different options with the shortest plan being a minimum of three months. You can purchase plans with just calls back to the US, just within Europe and many more. Please read everything very carefully when enrolling at Skype and make sure you have the correct plan. You certainly do not want  arrive in Europe and not be able to connect back to the US. They have no customer service support, no phone number or email address to contact so you are on your own. However, it works very well and it’s inexpensive. Visit Skype at ➾ .http://www.skype.com/en

Face Time

Apple devices use a program that allows you to connect to another Apple device whether it is an iPhone, iPad or iMac and have a visual and audio conversation. As long as both parties have an internet connection you should be able to face time someone else at anytime. Remember both parties need to have Apple products with face time enabled. Make sure the other party has it enable on their device in settings.

Google Hangouts

This service works the same as Face Time with a audio and visual connection. Both users must have Google accounts and be enrolled in Google Hangouts. All you need is a internet connection, sign into to your google account and contact the other party. This service like Face Time is free and if you have a gmail account you can use your normal sign on and password and access hangouts from your Google+ account.



Calling European Countries…

Each country in Europe has its own code for calling to that particular country. Just dial the number as you would normally when making a long distance call in the US but, dial the country code in place of the 1.

Country Dial Codes…
🇦🇽 Åland Islands +358 18
🇦🇱 Albania +355
🇦🇩 Andorra +376
🇦🇹 Austria +43
🇧🇾 Belarus +375
🇧🇪 Belgium +32
🇧🇦 Bosnia Herzegovina +387
🇧🇬Bulgaria +359
🇭🇷 Croatia +385
🇨🇾 Cyprus +357
🇨🇿 Czechia +420
🇩🇰 Denmark +45
🇪🇪 Estonia +372
🇫🇴 Faroe Islands + 298
🇫🇮 Finland +358
🇫🇷 France +33
🇩🇪 Germany +49
🇬🇮 Gibraltar +350
🇬🇬 GUERNSEY +44 1481
🇬🇷 GREECE +30
🇻🇦 Holy See +379
🇭🇺 Hungary +36
🇮🇸 Iceland +354
🇮🇪 Ireland +358
🇮🇲 ISLe of Man +44 1624
🇮🇹 Italy +39
🇯🇪 Jersey +44 1534
🇽🇰 Kosovo +383
🇱🇻 Latvia +371
🇱🇮 Liechtenstein +423
🇱🇹 Lithuania +370
🇱🇺 Luxembourg +352
🇲🇹 Malta +356
🇲🇩 Moldova +373
🇲🇨 Monaco +377
🇲🇪 Montenegro +382
🇦🇩 NETHERLANDS +31
🇲🇰 NORTH MACEDONIA +389
🇳🇴 Norway +47
🇵🇱 Poland +48
🇵🇹 Portugal +351
🇷🇴 Romania +40
🇷🇺 Russia +7
🇸🇲 Sam Marino +378
🇷🇸 Serbia +381
🇸🇰 Slovakia +421
🇸🇮 Slovenia +386
🇪🇸 Spain +34
🇳🇴 Svalbard +47 79
🇸🇪 Sweden +46
🇨🇭 Switzerland +41
🇹🇷 Trukey +90
🇺🇦 Ukraine +380
🇬🇧 United Kingdom +44

Tablets…

IPad by Apple

These are also great devices to have on vacation. They are smaller and lighter than a laptop computer making them much easier to pack and carry around when your traveling for an extended period of time. Because of their screen size viewing is made all that much more easier, especially over a longer period of time.

They can provide a lot of information on the local areas you will be visiting. Apps abound for most devices for the most popular tourist areas, sights and transportation services.

In addition to using them as a great resource for information they are a source of entertainment. They are especially nice for passing the time on a train or those long plane rides. You can read a book, watch a movie, listen to music, play games or communicate with others.

Some tablets also have features, like face time,  that allow you to call people back in the US at no cost to another Apple device.  For a fraction of the cost you can use Skype on your tablet or other smart device. In most situations all you will need is a wi-fi connection to take advantage of all the tablets functions and applications. Some applications may not even require a internet connection.

Tablets can be a little more cumbersome for taking pictures and carrying around in tourists sites. Smart phones and cameras make a better choice size wise, for picture taking. Adaptors are available for some tablets that allow you to insert your cameras sd card or link with a USB cable.  You can then automatically download all the pictures from your days travels and sights for review. Edit and upload them with comments on one of the many travel blog sights to let family and friends back home view your days adventures.

GPS…

If you plan to drive a car around while in Europe GPS is very handy. If you do not have one on your smart phone or tablet consider a mobile GPS. GPS devices are mapping or non-mapping. You will have no problem with a non-mapping device while in Europe but, if you have a mapping device there could be a challenge. That device will need a European basemap installed on it or it will not work. Your GPS manufacturer should be able to confirm whether your device has a European basemap or not.  If it doesn’t, you can go online to buy a City Naviagator or City Elect  high detailed basemap for it to work. If you are renting a car you may also pay a little extra and use GPS units that come with rental cars.

Applications…

As we mentioned, there are many apps to choose from but, which ones are really necessary? Go to our ➾ INTERNET page and see recommended apps that will be helpful when traveling.

AC Power Adaptors and Converters…

Europe operates on a 220v a different electric current than the US 110v. They also all use a different wall plug for their electric receptacles. Many of your new electronics will operate on dual voltage and will only need a wall adaptor in order to plug safely to a wall outlet. Older ones and appliances may need to be converted to proper voltage. These appliances are irons, hair dryers & curlers, etc. Most hotels do furnish hair dryers and they will have irons on request.

The guide is, any electronic or electrical device you have that is label 110-220v will be safe use. If it is unable to operate on 220v you must use a converter. Should you have any of these device it is best to try on leave them at home. Using them incorrectly burn them out or blow a circuit in the hotel.

CountryPlug typeVoltageFrequencyCountryPlug TypeVoltageFrequency
AlbaniaC, F230 V50 HzLuxembourg C, F230 V 50 Hz
AndorraC, F230 V50 HzMacedonia C, F230 V50 Hz
AustriaC, F230 V50 HzMalta G230 V50 Hz
BelarusC, F220 V50 HzMoldova  C, F220 V50 Hz
BelgiumC, E230 V50 HzMonacoC, D, E, F230 V50 Hz
Bosnia and HerzegovinaC, F230 V50 HzMontenegroC, F230 V50 Hz
BulgariaC, F230 V50 HzNetherlands C, F230 V50 Hz
CroatiaC, F230 V50 HzNorway C, F240 V50 Hz
CyprusG240 V50 HzPoland C, F230 V50 Hz
Czech RepublicC, E230 V50 HzPortugal C, F230 V50 Hz
DenmarkC,E, F, K230 V50 HzRomania C, F230 V50 Hz
EstoniaC, F230 V50 HzRussia C, F220 V50 Hz
FinlandC, F230 V50 HzSan Marino C, F, L230 V50 Hz
FranceC, E230 V50 HzSerbia C, F230 V50 Hz
GermanyC, F230 V50 HzSlovakia C, F230 V50 Hz
GreeceC, F230 V50 HzSlovenia C, F230 V50 Hz
HungaryC, F230 V50 HzSpain C, F230 V50 Hz
IcelandC, F230 V50 HzSweden C, F230 V50 Hz
IrelandG230 V50 HzSwitzerland C, J230 V50 Hz
ItalyC,F, L230 V50 HzTurkey C, F230 V50 Hz
LatviaC, F230 V50 HzUkraine C, F220 V50 Hz
LithuaniaC, F230 V50 Hz United KingdomG230v50 Hz
LiechtensteinC, J230 V50 Hz    

While the “C” plug adaptor works in most outlets in continental Europe there are some situations where the alternate plug will be needed. Try to have a selection of adapter’s for the uncommon outlets. The “G” adapter will work everywhere in the UK, Ireland and Malta. Use the diagrams below to find a proper adaptor. 

C plugD plugE plugF plug
G plugJ plugK plugL plug

Cameras…

You are going to see many wonderful sights in Europe and you are going to want to remember them forever. You will want pictures for showing to friends and family but, also for yourself to look at and remember. There are two basic types of cameras, Point and Shoot, and DSLR. Cameras are digital these days so while no film and developing is required, a good battery and SDcard is a must. So without getting to technical, what are the differences between the two types and what advantages does each have for you?

Point and Shoot Cameras…
  • Compact in size. This is nice when traveling out and about for the day. They can fit into a coat pocket or purse with no problem.
  • Lower in cost. Decent quality cameras starts at $100.00 up to over $1,000.00
  • Single lens. Some have limited zoom ability.  No need to carry extra lenses and no wasting time changing one lens for another.
  • Automatic settings allow for ease of use. A novice can easily take quality photos with the change of one setting to accommodate the environment.
  • Will not always guarantee good photos under certain conditions like night photography.
DSLR Cameras…
  • DSLR cameras larger and weigh more which means you will need a camera pack or tote when traveling around.
  • The starting cost of DSLR cameras is a little over $500.00. and the sky is the limit. You may be able to find discontinued models a little under that starting price.
  • Manual controls allow the photographer greater flexibility when shooting under different circumstances..
  • These cameras have interchangeable lenses for different shooting requirements.
  • Larger image sensors allow for cleaner, better quality images in a greater variance of lighting and setting conditions.
  • Adjustable ISO to control the sensitivity of the sensor.
  • Adjustable aperture or f-stop, allows how much light will reach the sensor.

In summarizing,  do you want a flexible camera that will give you memorable high quality photos in different environments or do you want a camera that’s easy too use, small and inexpensive.

Additional in depth comparisons cab be found on these web sites   
» Cameralabs.com   
» digital-photography-scholl.com 
» Photographylife.com   
» digitaltrends.com