I’ve just arrived in Italy this week. I had a bit of a difficult time packing for this trip. I’m gone for nearly 10 days on this trip and now that I’m working entirely as a freelancer, I’ve had to think of travel in a bit of a different way.

When I backpacked around the world I was happy to not have a smartphone or any expensive technology. I had a good camera (one of a traveler’s best tools, in my opinion) but after the Middle East and India, it was pretty much a goner.

So when I started to settle down here in Berlin, I finally decided to go the route of the smartphone. Enter the iPhone—that thing of beauty, style, brilliant engineering and an app store to die for. I brought the iPhone with me on my trip to Jordan, used it as my only camera in Brighton and it became my best friend here in Berlin. Things were too good to be true, though, because I was eventually robbed of it and was suddenly without a decent camera OR a smartphone. No doubt it had become an addiction, but it was certainly a useful one. And now I just can’t imagine traveling without a smartphone.

Using a smartphone abroad can be tricky—and make you do silly things!

Benefits of traveling with a smartphone

Despite losing my iPhone, I used a Nokia Lumia 800 on my recent trip to Catalunya. That’s when I remembered all the benefits of traveling with a smartphone:

  • Easy to take photos of things you might miss while fumbling with a larger camera
  • Instant sharing of photos & status updates with social media (Facebook & Twitter)
  • Foursquare! You can check in to places while traveling and then you’ll have a history of all the places you’ve been—excellent tip for those that forget the names of restaurants you want to remember

Internet access while abroad

The biggest challenge to using a smartphone abroad is the SIM card. Do you buy a local one? Do you pay roaming charges on your current plan? On my trip to Spain, I received a complementary SIM card from Holiday Phone.

With my Holiday Phone SIM card, I was able to connect it to my SIM card from home (Germany). Doing so would allow me to send and receive calls from my German number but at a much cheaper rate than if I was calling internationally. The SIM card also had a local Spanish number so any local calls I made from my phone were cheap and affordable! But the absolute best part is that I was able to use my data plan from my German SIM while in Spain. I pay for unlimited internet access on my phone here in Germany, so I was able to enjoy the same while in Spain. AMAZING!

Setting up the SIM card only took a matter of minutes and they provided a short document on how to do it properly as well as details on how to contact for customer support.

One quick note about Holiday Phone: I never successfully set up the call forwarding so anyone who had tried to contact me through my German number while I was abroad didn’t get through to me. Not sure if this was user error or if the process for setting it up was just too complicated for me, but the fact that I could get unlimited internet access through my account was enough for me. It’s all I really wanted anyways.

The Holiday Phone SIM and the Nokia Lumia 800 were both trial versions given to me for the purpose of this review.

Travels of Adam - It's a blogLooking for a place to stay? I use HotelsCombined.com where you can easily compare hotel room rates and prices. Please note some posts do make me some money but I never sacrifice my integrity in exchange for a favorable review. Read the full disclosure policy.


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  1. Arthur White

    Ordered Holiday Phone From USA to use in Italy while visiting friends there so we could communicate while I was there. They gave me a SIM card with an Austrian number. This would work for me, but my friends who do not have Euro calling plans would be charged for calls to Austria. They say this is disclosed in their fine print, but in the many hours I spent researching their deal and chatting with them it was never disclosed. It you use this service and want to receive local calls, make sure you get a SIM with a number in the country you will be visiting. Also they would not refund my money and were very defensive.

  2. Patrick O'Connell

    You say “But the absolute best part is that I was able to use my data plan from my German SIM while in Spain. I pay for unlimited internet access on my phone here in Germany, so I was able to enjoy the same while in Spain. AMAZING!”

    Sounds too good to be true – how does this work ? I have a UK plan with a 1 GB internet access per month here in the UK and visit Spain 7-8 timers a year

  3. Karl Susman

    Looking to try Holiday Phone – but I want to just get the unlimited data plan and use it on my iPhone. Anyone try this?

  4. I was in Italy this Fall and it was brutal for internet, staying connected was definitely a problem for those who didn’t plan ahead.

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  6. Casey Camilleri

    Thanks for the info about Holiday Phone! I’ll be in Germany for a bit for Octoberfest this year and it’ll def help to have something like that!

    • Adam

      Good idea! It’s always fun to be able to immediately & instantly upload photos & tweets from your phone when you’re at a festival. If you do end up using HolidayPhone be sure to tell them where you heard about it :)

      Enjoy Oktoberfest!! I’m sure it’ll be a blast.

  7. The Holiday Phone sounds great for travelling, but do you know if you have to have an unlocked phone for it to work?

    • Adam

      Yup – I’m fairly certain you need an unlocked phone. It has to be able to accept the SIM card which would be from a different network.

  8. Waegook Tom

    The Holiday Phone idea actually sounds pretty decent. Good idea.

    Also, I get what you mean about having a smartphone – it’s a lifesaver when travelling, especially the map app if you can’t find your hostel or CouchSurfing host’s address! Well, if you can get somewhere with WiFi, that is.

    • Adam

      Yep Tom – I’m a huge advocate for using smartphones while traveling. A lot of the apps are a luxury (you could always ask for directions) but if it makes things so much simpler, why avoid it?

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