We have used many different phone services on our vacations to Europe over the years.  There are many pros and cons, but we feel we have found our best option using Google’s Project Fi.  Read our entire evaluation below.

Expensive International PhoneActivate Your International Plan (Easy & Expensive)

The easiest option is to call or go online to your current mobile phone service and activate international service.  Most phone companies will charge you a fee for activating international service and you will receive a limited amount of phone minutes and data for that month.  Be aware that the amount of data is very limited!  If you go over your limit, be prepared for a huge bill when you return home!  When you are back home, call or go online again and deactivate international service.

Verizon (and maybe some others) have another option – pay $10/day and take your domestic talk, text and data allowances with you.  On a short visit to Europe, this can be an easy decision – you know your costs and don’t have to worry about tiny data limits.  However, if your trip is a long one, $10/day can really add up.


European SIM CardPurchase a SIM Card (Difficult, but Cheap)

The least expensive option is usually purchasing a SIM card once you are in Europe.

How it Works:

  • Visit a mobile phone store, department store or newsstand and purchase a SIM card (make sure to get the correct size for your phone!)
  •  Have the clerk help you set up the SIM on your phone.  This will give you a European phone number for your phone and pre-paid minutes and data.
  • When you run out of minutes and/or data, “top up” the phone by visiting a newsstand, tobacco shop, mobile phone store and tell the clerk how much credit you want to add.  The clerk will give you a voucher or send the credit directly to your phone.  (Note: some companies will let you top up your credits online.)

This is the least expensive option, but one drawback is that your phone will now have a European phone number (until you put your old SIM back into the phone.)  So, if you want to receive calls from home you will need to give all of your contacts your new European phone number.


Google Project FiGoogle Project Fi (Easy & Cheap!)

If you travel to Europe often (and, even if you don’t!), check out Google Project Fi!

Project Fi has very simple pricing:

  • $20/mo unlimited domestic calls and texts
  • $10/GB for data usage
  • International usage – free texts & the exact same $10/GB!
  • International calls will vary in per-minute fees, but incoming calls and calls made over WiFi are free
  • No contracts!
  • Bill Protection – if you use over 6GB in a month, the maximum charge is $60
  • Get $20 credit with this link:  https://g.co/fi/r/8EF5M1

One potential drawback for some people is the choice of phones.  There are a very limited number of phones which work with Google Project Fi.  The highly rated Google Pixel phones are compatible as well as a couple Moto & LG phones.

Google Project FiInternational PlanEuropean SIM Card
Easy & Convenient
Keep Your Number
Any Phone