iPhone Travel Tips for Europe

I love to travel. Especially to Europe.

Italy. Yum!!!

Preparing for an international trip is much easier these days with the plethora of sites and apps to help you decide where to go, where to stay, how to save money, etc.

Last week, I shared some apps and tips for those travel logistics.

This week I’m focusing on two tips for traveling to Europe:

1) Learning (or re-learning) a language for free

There are many expensive programs you can purchase like Rosetta Stone and Influenz, but they just aren’t fun to use.

I recently started using a free site and app called Duolingo (duolingo.com) and highly recommend it! The lessons are relatively short and include speaking into your device’s microphone.

I especially enjoy using it on my iPhone because I can get a quick lesson done whenever and wherever I have 5 to 10 minutes of downtime.

And to help you translate in a foreign country, I recommend that you download both the Google Translate and Jibbigo apps. You will need Wi-Fi or a data plan to use Google Translate, so be sure use Jibbigo to download offline access for the languages you will need.

2) Using your iPhone in Europe

You can unknowingly spend a lot of money using your cell phone in Europe the way you do in the States unless you plan and prepare before you leave.

This information and my research focuses on ways to avoid paying international fees to your wireless provider.

The first step in cell phone planning is to decide how you want to be able to use your iPhone in Europe.

  • Do you need to be available for incoming calls/texts/email all the time?
  • Or, can you plan your calls/texts/emails for times when you have free Wi-Fi in a hotel or restaurant?
  • If you are sightseeing without a guide, do you want to use GPS for navigation by foot, bike or car?
  • Or, could you download and save maps with free Wi-Fi before you sightsee and use the maps with no navigation assistance?
  • Do you want to be able to access the Internet at any time, or just when you have free Wi-Fi?

This table simplifies the questions to help you see your options.

Calls/Texts Email Downloaded Maps GPS Navigation Internet

Full Access 24/7

 $$  $$    $$  $$

For Emergencies Only


Only with Free Wi-Fi


Full Access 24/7

Of course, the most expensive use of your cell phone in Europe would be to have full access through your cell provider, just like you have in the States.

Other options for 24/7 coverage include:

  • renting or purchasing a European cell phone (won’t be as useful without all your apps)
  • renting a European mobile hotspot (won’t last a whole day between charges)
  • using an unlocked iPhone with a European SIM card (if you have a Verizon iPhone, you can do this!)

For Emergencies Only

You can sign up for a global calling and/or data plan with your cell phone provider, but you will have to be diligent that your settings are correct on your iPhone and that you do not go over the plan you purchased. This is usually where people end up with a big surprising bill when they return.

Only with Free Wi-Fi

By planning ahead and correctly setting up some services, you can do the following for free in Europe wherever you have free Wi-Fi:

  • Access your voicemail messages by setting up a Google Voice number and forwarding calls to that number.
  • Access and send text messages if your cell phone provider offers “cloud texting,” which I know Verizon and AT&T do.
  • Video or voice call your contacts via Skype, Google Hangouts or FaceTime.
  • Call landlines or cell phones in Europe or the US for pennies a minute.
  • Email, search the internet and download maps.

In the past, I’ve written about how to use your iPhone in Europe for free here, here ,here, here and here! It’s a great place for you to start for the preparations and settings you’ll need for spending little or no money on your iPhone and staying connected.

I’ve also put together all the tools and settings you’ll need in one easy-to-follow ebook. If you really want to learn how to use your iPhone for free in Europe, click here.


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