Pixel 2 in Italy and Switzerland
February 21, 2018 8:41 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to be able to use my Pixel 2 to make phone calls and navigate in Italy and Switzerland next month. How can I do it?

I'm on Verizon. Can I just purchase a European SIM card with some prepaid minutes? Or should I just get a burner phone and use wifi when I need it? If you've done this recently, your help is much appreciated.
posted by trbrts to Travel & Transportation around Italy (5 answers total)
You can add Fi as a second carrier to your phone and switch back and forth between the two. It doesn't give you a local number but it's pretty low friction on you. It's not free but it's cheaper than Verizon's international plan.

Otherwise yes, you can get a prepaid SIM and swap it out once you land.

If you're navigating with Google maps, definitely download maps for the areas you'll be in ahead of time so you don't chew through your data or get caught without in an area with slow or poor service.
posted by Candleman at 9:51 AM on February 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's totally easy to buy a prepaid European SIM - I usually do a little research online before I go to see what the range of deals is and then go to a shop in the airport or train station or someplace in tourist center (better chance of English speakers) of the first place I visit to buy a card.

Most European countries have international roaming free with each other but unfortunately Switzerland does not (not in the EU), so if you buy a card in Italy you will burn through the prepaid minutes/data pretty fast once you cross the border (or vice versa). You can buy one card for each country but that's kind of a pain in the ass, or if you're only in one country for a short time you can plan to use wifi as much as possible while you're in the secondary country.

Check out the bundles available from lycamobile to get an idea of how much things cost (you will also have to pay for the SIM itself, something like 5 euro).
posted by mskyle at 10:11 AM on February 21, 2018

I believe Vodafone has free roaming in the 'Europe Zone' where they decided to include Switzerland anyways. So you could get a pre-paid Vodafone SIM in either Italy or Switzerland I believe and then continue to use it in the other country.
posted by vacapinta at 10:22 AM on February 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

You can download areas for offline usage in Google Maps. I always do this when traveling just in case, even if I expect to have network service.
posted by grouse at 10:39 AM on February 21, 2018

Besides downloading specific Google Maps areas, I also use Maps.me, which uses Open Maps data to provide pretty darn good offline maps, including basic but usable turn-by-turn navigation (though it's not anywhere near as good as Google's). I find that having two map apps gives me peace of mind, especially as with Maps.me I can just download whole regions or countries at a time and not worry too much that my Google Maps area downloads were too specific or don't take into account an unexpected change in destination.

Another cool thing: Maps.me even works in Airplane mode with all networks and radios turned completely off. Great for saving battery. In fact, if you're in the window seat of an airplane, if you open Maps.me app and hold your phone to the window for a minute, GPS will work and Maps.me will show you where you are.
posted by Mo Nickels at 3:35 PM on February 21, 2018

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