Someone asked me how I stay connected to the United States. Specifically she wanted to know what kind of International phone plan I have.
I don’t. So if you are traveling to Europe or anywhere and planning to stay a month or longer, you might be interested in what I do. I have two mobile phones. I have my American cell phone that I use when I’m in California which is about two months out of the year. The day before I leave to return to Paris, I call AT&T and ask them to put my phone on ‘Suspend’. That costs about $11.50 a month with tax. I still put that phone on airplane mode just in case. I have no reason to take it out of my apartment.
I have a french mobile with a french number. I pay much less a month than I do here in the States! Since I’m only gone a month at a time and the fee is so much cheaper, I don’t bother with a suspension. But I do make sure I have it on Airplane mode from the minute the plane lifts off the ground at CDG.
I have had my Oakland home phone number with Vonage, a VOiP, for 10/12 years. The year I moved to Paris, 2013, Vonage designed an App to download. I can go into the App and call the United States and my home phone number shows up on the recipients phone. People in the States can call me without any extra charge as they are calling a California number. I do keep that phone, the American one, on Mute, as people often forget how many hours I am ahead of them. I just call them back.
For all the above, when I’m in Paris, I pay a total of $75. That is about the price of one month of AT&T cellphone service. Why on earth would I get an International plan?
I now have friends all over Europe. We call each other on Skype, which is audio as well as visual, or download WhatsApp or Viber (WhatsApp seems to be more popular at the moment). All the Apps can be used on my french phone at any time wherever I am. I have found, however, that reception is best if I’m at a Wifi spot.
Then there is the wonder of FaceTime. I have an iPhone (I actually have two iPhones but you get the gist). There is no charge to talk to another iPhone anywhere in the world using FaceTime. Again, the platform is strongest at a Wifi spot.
Until this morning, my Facebook page had never been hacked. I discovered it within a couple of hours and got it taken care of quickly. So I am one who is constantly grateful for technology. I’m not particularly savvy but what I do know and what I do have keeps me connected to all my friends around the world. I don’t find it difficult at all to keep everything straight.
For people who do come for a shorter time, one or two weeks in Paris for instance: if you want a french number, Orange will happily sell you a SIM card with 2 weeks worth of talk time and unlimited texting for a reasonable fee. Most french numbers can call a landline in the US and UK. But as more and more people get rid of their land lines, that becomes a moot point!
I hope this is helpful. People are so glued to their phones these days that the idea of not being connected while they are traveling is terrifying. These are one person’s suggestions.