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Staying In Touch with Your JayWay Local Contact During Your Trip

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For over 15 years we’ve provided our guests with a local phone so they could contact our staff in Europe. The ‘JayWay Traveler Phone’ had become a signature part of our service. As time has passed, however, the physical aspect of providing a basic phone has become less important, as guests have preferred to use messaging apps on their own phones rather than try and re-familiarize themselves with a kind of device they haven’t used in a decade. For the 2022 season we’re saying goodbye to the old-school phones.

To streamline communications with our guests while they travel, we’re moving to using popular messaging apps (Apple Messages/Facetime, Whatsapp, Viber, etc). For this to work beyond the reach of WiFi, you’ll need internet access.

This article covers the options open to you to stay online while you travel, whether that’s using a local SIM card or eSIM that we provide, or using your own data plan abroad.

Putting a local SIM (or eSIM) in your phone

We will provide, on request, a local SIM or eSIM for the lead traveler on every tour, so as long as your phone is unlocked, you’ll be able to receive calls and texts on your regular number, but use the local SIM for data.

If your phone doesn’t have dual SIM capability then putting a local SIM in will mean you can’t be reached on your own phone number while on your trip. For some people this might be a blessing, but many of us need to be reachable even when we’re on vacation. iPhones since the iPhone XS, released in 2018, and many high end Android phones, support eSIMs. These are ‘virtual’ SIMs that are added to the phone by scanning a QR code.

Checking if your phone is unlocked

To make sure you’ll be able to use a local SIM/eSIM, first you’ll need to make sure it’ll work. If you bought your phone outright then it will usually be unlocked. Phones purchased directly from carriers in the US tend to be locked, but can be unlocked upon request. This article explains in detail how to check if your phone is unlocked.

What’s Included with the SIM or eSIM?

Whether we provide you with an eSIM or a regular physical SIM, you’ll have several GB of data to use, and an incoming European number to receive calls on (especially useful if we need to contact you urgently). With an eSIM you’ll also have unlimited calls within Europe, and some 30 minutes of international calls. Physical SIM call credits vary by country. If you run out of data (we’ll allow more than enough for normal usage) then we can top your SIM up for you for an additional fee.

Using Your Own Plan Abroad

If you’re activating a data plan with your regular cell plan provider, your phone will work as normal. You’ll just need to turn on Data Roaming to have access abroad, and to keep an eye on your usage, so you don’t get any overage charges.

AT&T International Day Pass $10/Day

The International Day Pass add-on lets you use your phone as you do at home. With this active, you’ll pay $10 for every day you use data, calls or text abroad. Data is drawn from your regular allowance. You don’t get charged anything to receive calls or texts. One helpful aspect is you’ll only pay for a maximum of 10 days in a bill period, so if you take a 2 week trip, within your bill period, you’ll only pay $100.

Verizon Travel Pass, or International Monthly Plan

Verizon’s Travel Pass is similar to AT&Ts – use your regular calls/texts/data plan abroad as you do at home for $10/day. The one difference is that there’s no 10 days in a billing period cap. Verizon also offer a monthly International Travel Plan for $100 that doesn’t draw from your domestic allowance but instead contains 5GB of data, 1000 SMS, 25 minutes of calls.

T-Mobile Data Pass

If you’re with T-Mobile on a monthly plan then you already get unlimited 2G data, enough for messaging but that’s about it, and unlimited texting to US numbers. You can upgrade to 4G/5G using a Data Pass where available with a day pass for $5 that gives 512MB of data and unlimited calling to US numbers, but it might be better to opt for a monthly pass at $35 for 5GB, or $50 for 15GB of data.

Data-Saving Tips

Whether you’re using your own data, or a SIM/eSIM we provide, it’s a good idea to restrict your data usage, to preserve your allowance for when you need it.

Use WiFi when available

Your phone consumes data even when you’re not actively using it. By connecting to WiFi when available, all those background processes aren’t using up valuable data.

Use Google Maps offline mode

If you’re using Google Maps a lot, you’ll get through a lot of data, but you can download a city, or region’s map for offline use, when you’re on wifi. and save a lot of data (and using Maps in areas with poor coverage will be less frustrating too. For requesting directions you need to be online, but if you’ve cached the map of the area, you won’t be continually downloading. Alternatively buy a standalone GPS Navigation app, which downloads an entire country’s worth of maps and can function entirely online.

Cache music (and movies!) on your phone

Streaming audio or video uses a lot of data. Whether you use Spotify, Apple Music, or anything else, to listen to music, you should be able to save songs for listening offline. Most streaming apps have an offline mode too.

Still want a basic phone?

We will still provide a basic phone upon request, just let us know at least two weeks before your trip so we have time to track arrange this for you. We’ll explain how to get it back to us at the end of your trip so it can be reused.

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