Germany Travel Help

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Stealth_81, May 24, 2013.

  1. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    Hi Gang!

    I have a non-SAF related question that maybe some of you could help with.

    Does anybody have recent travel experience to Germany? I am particularly looking
    for info on iPhone use over there. Our youngest is leaving in a couple of weeks
    for a 22-day stay in Munich and then St. Augustin/Cologne. My cell phone plan
    will not cover him there, and it is about $140 for the month to get him service
    in Germany. My question is: Can he just use the Wi-Fi connection to communicate
    with us via Facebook/Yahoo instead of getting an actual cell and data plan? Is
    there a large abundance of free Wi-Fi there as there is in the US? He will not
    need to be in constant contact with the US, but we would like to make it easy
    for him to get us messages if needed.

    The two teachers who are chaperoning the trip are in their upper 60s and have no
    info for the kids regarding cell phones. Their advice is for the kids to leave
    the phones at home and use payphones. Is that valid?

    Thanks for any info, my friends!

    Stealth_81
     
  2. pathnottaken

    pathnottaken Member

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    Check your wireless carrier here. Mine charged about 30 dollars to allow international usage per month. We went to Ireland las summer and had it turned on for for the month. Had to work hard to get it done correctly (phone company didn't turn it on when needed/ had to call from Ireland and get it turned on) then had to make sure it was turned off once we came back.

    Also there is plently of free wi-fi connection (especially at coffee houses) and most hotels include free wi-fi or for small charge, so there is no issue staying in touch using facebook or e-mail.

    My kids all went to Europe for high school trips and had no issue with the technology stopping them keeping in touch, but always had issue with finding time to send message home :rolleyes:
     
  3. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    OVOO and SKYPE worked well when my Daughter was in China. No cost just sign up. Worked really well in real time as long as they have a laptop with a camera, voice and connection (you also need a computer with camera and audio at home). It was great and didn't cost a thing. You can get a cheap camera and audio at Radio Shack for your desktop if it doesn't have them. No cost and talked and saw her every day. If you need phone you might try World Phone.
     
  4. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    Pay phones -- when you can find them -- aren't the easiest things to use. Agree that you should check with your wireless carrier. Some offer short-term overseas plans for stuff like this.

    BUT, BE CAREFUL!! It is REALLY EASY to rack up huge charges for Internet use. My husband's business partner sent him emails with lots of pictures. Even though he wasn't reading them, the phone was downloading them. He got a message from the service provider that his bill was rising fast. He turned off his phone and was able to negotiate the charge down to about $300:eek: but still. Ditto if you do a lot of surfing.

    So, if they take their phones, make sure you and they understand from the carrier exactly what is charged and how.

    Best bet would be to get a limited access plan to use the phone only to call home and let them use the Internet cafes that are all over the place for surfing, emailing, etc.
     
  5. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    We never paid a dime for contact every day to China through OVOO or Skype. They are not emails or messages. It is person to person in real time. Check it out and set up the accounts. Skype works well in some countries and OvOO works better in some others.
     
  6. cfire

    cfire New Member

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    I always take an old cell phone that has a SIM card over to Europe. Walk into a phone store and hand them the phone. For 20 euro they put a new SIM card in and load it with 100 credits. Works perfectly and cheap.
     
  7. Lynpar

    Lynpar Member

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    Take this question over to the USMMA threads. Phones and international calling are discussed frequently amongst KP parents. DS was around Europe over the winter and we used Facebook messaging to stay in touch. It worked great.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2013
  8. ameisen_zug

    ameisen_zug Reapplicant

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    Hello, I just recently returned from a year long student exchange in Germany.

    Payphones do still exist in Germany (big pink Tmobile boxes occasionally placed on street corners.) Although I wouldn't rely on them, as depending on the area, they can be very few and far between, dialing an international call on them I found very difficult (the audio instructions were all in German, and I didn't understand them until I spoke German fluently)

    He should be able to use any open Wifi there with his iPhone- if he can find it. Germans generally use cables for the internet. I was living in a fairly large city, and I knew very few places I could find Wifi- let alone use it. Generally it would mean paying for it also. If he is staying in a hostel or hotel, oftentimes they will have a small 'pay computer' in the lobby for guests to use for a 5 cents every minute or something.

    Even in larger cites such as Hamburg, Hannover, Heidelburg, and Berlin I found it difficult finding Wifi. As a general rule Wifi doesn't run in abundance in Germany as it does in the US.

    German cell service: as long as he has an unlocked phone- he can go to the nearest Aldi, T-mobile, or vodafone to activate a SIM card for about 20Euro. He can then recharge it at a store for fairly inexpensivley, and will be able to text worldwide as long as he has minutes (at least that is my experience with Alditalk). There isn't any sort of contract, and it's prepaid so you can't go over.

    If allowable, I would recommend bringing a small netbook or laptop to use for the cable internet. If that isn't possible, your best bet for finding Wifi would be in a Hotel/hostel, airport, or a trainstation.

    Hope your son has a wonderful time in Germany. It is certainly a beautiful country which I miss it dearly.

    Sarah
     
  9. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    Thanks for all the suggestions!

    Stealth_81
     

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