We're heading to Europe in June (Spain and then Paris) and are looking at our cell phone options. We have an iPhone 4s, unlocked on the Verizon network, and I know we can grab a local sim but even that way data is a little expensive. We don't really care too much about making calls and, if we wanted to, we could always use our Ooma account or Skype or something like that.
I was looking at Boingo but have read great and horrible reviews of them. Their hotspot plan is only $9.95/month and it looks as though they've go a bunch of place near where we'll be. (Plus we can always just use the wifi in our hotels at night.)
Anyone every use Boingo? Got an opinion? Also, if you recommend a local sim for data, anyone actually use a specific model in an iPhone 4s and like it?
I don't own any Apple phones/tabs. (HTC is a better value for us.)
I don't use Verizon or Sprint in the USA. (T-Mo's $30 per month 1000min/unlimited text and data or $2 per day unlimited everything works for us.)
When we travel abroad, we don't bring anything that would entice thieves.
posted: May. 19, 2012 @ 8:33a
Boingo Mobile is $7.95/month, and you can use it on 2 devices. I did use it last summer (Italy), but (due to Italian law), there were few networks...Spain and France are a different story. We toted 2 iPads with us.
If you for the sim rout for your phones, look for one of the major retailers (like The Phone House) that carry several carriers, and are in more than one country. They are freestanding, also inside many of the Carrefours.
I've used Boingo wifi while traveling in different countries - mainly in airports, but also in some other public places. It works well enough for surfing, but I wouldn't log into sensitive accounts without using a VPN or SSH tunnel because it really is just an unencrypted public wifi network. Other than that, speed depends entirely on how many other people are also using that particular hotspot.
If you are planning to check sensitive accounts while abroad (which includes your main email account; just think how difficult things would be if it was compromised), I would strongly recommend that you either set up a VPN (or SSH tunnel) on one of your home computers or invest $5-10 in paying for a VPN account with an established provider and tunnel through that server when logging into your primary email account or financial accounts. Identity/financial theft is the last thing you want to worry about when on vacation. If you're taking a laptop, you could even just remotely control a home computer through the secure tunnel and do everything through that.
posted: May. 19, 2012 @ 1:32p
You can get the Verizon global service, which gives you data for a reasonable price for any amount of time you want - a week, a month, etc. I think it was about an extra $30. per month. You can use this for your email, and iMessage is free no matter where you are in the world (iPhone to iPhone on an Internet connection). I like to do this because it's just simple. You get access to a local carrier through the agreement with Verizon, and your email works wherever you have a 3 or 4G connection. Your regular texts are whatever the country text charges are (usually around .50 each, some places are $1. each) and the biggest problem is the actual phone calls, which are ridiculously expensive even with the global plan. As far as I know Skype will not work for calls generated in another country.
posted: May. 19, 2012 @ 2:57p
Really depends how long you plan to be in Europe. A week? A month? If it's a week, I wouldn't sweat it as much. There are rare times that you may actually need to use a phone (get a hold of the person you are travelling with if they get separated). Other times, we just leave the iphone on airplane mode but switch on the wifi (yet still leave the phone in airplane mode). Depends on the hotel where you'll be staying at as they may offer free wifi. Some gof the restaurants also offer free wifi to patrons. It is somewhat cumbersome as we're used to having internet all the time.
Agree with getting VPN. Everywhere I connect in Europe or even in public spots in the US, I turn vpn on.
posted: May. 19, 2012 @ 3:45p
Thanks for all the advice. I agree with DSJ in not wanting to entice thieves and we're not taking much technology with us on the trip. We figure that, with a single iphone, we can have all we need in terms of checking all our email accounts and, if absolutely necessary, making a call or two. We have Ooma at home so we can make calls via WiFi and most of the hotels have some sort of internet. With the iPhone we won't have to carry all sorts of travel books with us . . that's kind of nice. I'll have it around my neck, with a good cable, and that'll be the only thing I have to worry about. (We'll have a kindle with us for the plane rides . . . not the end of the world if we lose it but we won't carry that around day to day. We also take mini-mp3 players on the plane; they were $9 each so, again, not a big deal.)
The nice thing about having internet on the phone over there would be for additional restaurant recommendations and site-seeing stuff but, you're all probably right, we could just get by with the standard WiFi. For the $7.95 -- we're only away for one month -- it might be worth the additional "Boingo" fee . . as a back up.
posted: May. 19, 2012 @ 4:29p
Agree with VPN suggestions...however, I never log into sites that need a PW, unless I am on a secure/known connection. I only use it for browsing....
Pobre said: Agree with VPN suggestions...however, I never log into sites that need a PW, unless I am on a secure/known connection. I only use it for browsing....
It's fine to use a VPN for surfing, but the whole point of using a VPN while traveling is so that you CAN securely log into sites and do the things you need to do. VPNs are what corporations, governments, and universities use to allow employees that are on the road or at remote sites to access sensitive corporate files.
You can use a VPN on the iPhone and remember that even if you pay for wifi internet, it's usually still considered unencrypted and public.
posted: May. 19, 2012 @ 8:10p
I know what VPN is...and I use for work from home. My point was that I don't like to log in to anything on the road. I didn't mean to imply that I use VPN for surfing, rather, that I would use open and/or free wifi for surfing only.
posted: May. 20, 2012 @ 6:48a
I have used boingo in the UK and Germany. It is hit or miss, probably more to sloppy management of their locations database, than to malicious intent to defraud you. I specifically booked some hotels in Germany because they were listed as boingo locations and then was frustrated when I arrived and couldn't get online. I also had some issues in the UK.
But for $10/month it is impossible to beat. Even if it isn't 100%.
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