Project FI In Greece

crispydoc Uncategorized 6 Comments

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.

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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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Comments 6

  1. Whenever I travel international I always worry about phone bills too.

    What I end up doing now is when I get into the airport I buy a sim card from a local vendor set up there for the approximate length I am going to be there.

    I’m sure it is a rip off compared to if I lived there but it is nice to have data connected at all times in case of emergency or just using the GPS to get from one spot to another

    1. Post

      The sim card route works, but I have to say there’s great joy in the simplicity of simply turning on the phone and finding it works. The late night arrival in Mexico City where you can summon an Uber to your curb at the airport within minutes of landing.

      If you ever decide you want convenience, I am a huge proponent of Project Fi…

  2. Good to hear how Project FI works. I have a google phone but I went with Consumer Cellular because I have 2 older kids who use quite a bit of data and iPhones 4 phones is 120/mo with 10 gb data. They do have international typically about .04 for talk and .05 for txt. When we were in Italy I just used Hangouts on wifi for video calls which worked extremely well, better than the telco

    1. Post

      Nice win on wifi! I find internationally whatsapp is popular within Europe and Latin America when communicating with friends abroad, but same principle as hangouts, and the price is right.

      Consumer Cellular sounds like a decent deal if you suspect that pay as you go will amount to the same for a family plan. And I realize some folks are not wiling to relinquish the joy of using iphones to get a slightly better deal on Project Fi. Perhaps something to keep in mind if your tracked data ever dips below current use.

  3. When I read your title, I immediately thought “Oh, Crispy Doc must be going to a financial independence meet up group called ‘Project FI’ in Greece”. Then I realized it was the phone data plan. LOL.

    My wife and I never worried about international roaming and data because she has T-Mobile, which gives us unlimited data and texting in 210+ countries. The internet speed isn’t great, but it’s good enough for simple web browsing, checking email, and GPS which can come in handy when abroad.

    1. Post


      I like the way that sounds! Covert international agent for financial independence, organizing disenfranchised Greeks at ground zero of the financial catastrophe, all while sampling souvlaki and gelato on the beach.

      T-mobile sounds like it makes the cut in terms of ease of use. Out of curiosity, what does the T-mobile plan run per month?

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