Topping the list of international travel anxieties is whether your cellular phone bill might be adversely impacted while traveling in another country. Our recent trip to Greece brought up this very concern.
We’ve all heard horror stories of Roaming Charges Gone Wild! Mine involved the beloved if technologically unsophisticated older cousin from Mexico City who acquired a new iphone prior to a two week trip to visit family and vacation in the U.S. Before he knew what had hit him, he’d racked up an impressive thousand-dollar bill due to a combination of data and roaming charges.
Private university is expensive, but the school of hard knocks can be a killer.
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I’ve written previously about my experience switching from Sprint to Google’s Project FI, as well as how Project FI fared on a trip to Mexico last summer. Since many US carriers provide an option for free service in either Mexico or Canada, I was curious if European travel would prove significantly different.
The flight to Athens included a 6 hour layover in Zurich, Switzerland, where I briefly used data to maneuver us around the old city.
All subsequent use occurred in one of three regions in Greece: Athens, Nafplio, and the Island of Kythira. The latter has a population of fewer than 4000, measures ~18 miles along its greatest diameter, and had cellular coverage that was surprisingly good!.
All of our lodging (obtained via airbnb**) included free wifi, which meant any calls or data were routed preferentially for free over wifi. At home I tend to postpone any non-urgent checking of email for either home or (during rare down time) work, in order to take advantage of free wifi and cultivate the habit of reducing data use on the go. I did the same for most of this trip.
We primarily used data in the form of GPS to explore new towns on foot and to humble overly confident navigators (most of whom were me). My wife occasionally checked email for her business outside of our lodging’s free wifi. We texted with friends and family back home (unlimited, free) but did so infrequently.
The account is for two phone lines (mine and my wife’s) with unlimited talk and text for $35 per month. The additional cost for data is $10 per GB per month, with an assurance of no charge beyond 10GB. We each are on a 1 GB per month plan, no fee if we go over other than the stated $10 charge. Since Project Fi charges you one month in advance, any data I do not use is refunded in the following billing cycle. So if
Since collectively my wife and I use between 1-2 GB per month, our typical monthly charge is $45-50 for both of us.
How’d we do in Greece? Not bad. $49.35 for the month, including almost 1 GB of use between us as well as an 80 cent call to one of our airbnb hosts. keep in mind that this included one week at home.
As for ease of use, it involved one minute spent switching two settings before we stepped off the plane, and then it just worked beautifully. We got a message letting us know that Project Fi had us covered in the new country, and we waited 2-3 minutes as they linked up service. No hassles. no sim card switch. Simple.
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