Tonya and I just returned from a 2-week holiday in Switzerland, our first significant trip together for 20 years that did not involve family or business, even though we had the pleasure of staying with one of our TidBITS Angel supporters for a couple of nights. The trip was great fun, complete with a Diamond League track meeting in Lausanne, Oodles of Picassos in Lucerne, Hiking Eiger Trail, via ferrata (also known as Klettersteig in German speaking countries) at Mürren and Molésan and paragliding for me, and lots of cheese and chocolate.
Apart from using this article as an excuse to share some holiday photos, I write to tell you about a useful and economical way I found out to get mobile data while traveling in Europe this summer: Orange Holiday Europe SIM.
Last year, when we went to London with Tristan for a friend's wedding, Giffgaff worked well (see "UK Travel Tips: Giffgaff for Cellular and Apple Pay for Transit," June 15, 2018). But Giffgaff is designed for the UK and has deleted our inactivity accounts anyway, so before this trip I looked for options that would work in Switzerland. One site recommended SimCorner's SIM card for Europe and the UK, which cost € 25 for 12 GB 4G data and allowed tethering. Unfortunately, sending from Australia requires up to 12 business days. It could have come in time, but I wouldn't risk it.
The prepaid options from Swiss suppliers Salt and Swisscom were too hard to find out from abroad, and I prefer to know that I have connections as soon as I land, without having to find an airport shop. Some searches later, I stumbled upon a couple of options that were available through Amazon: Orange Holiday Europe SIM from the French cellular company Orange and PrePaid Europe SIM from British mobile provider Three, both around $ 22.
Although the three SIMs delivered 12 GB of data and many more phone minutes and SMS texts, I chose Orange SIM card since it used 4G networks instead of 3G and allowed tethering so we could use the iOS Personal Hotspot feature with our iPads. By default, the Orange SIM card comes with 3 GB of data, but if you activate it before August 22, 2019, it jumps to 8 GB. 4G was available in many locations in Switzerland, but we also saw a lot of 3G and even Edge, along with some spots of No Service.
The extra 5 GB of data proved to be unnecessary since I only used 2.12 GB, even with constant mapping with Google Maps and Apple Maps, together with everything I wanted to do. The only limitation I required for my use was to go into low power mode at the beginning of each day to conserve power, which also reduces background network traffic such as iCloud Photos synchronization.
Tonya went through only 0.75 GB of data, mainly because the battery life on her iPhone 6s was terrible despite the fact that the battery had been replaced last year and had a battery health maximum capacity rating of 88%. Battery life is rarely a problem for her at home, but perhaps the need to hunt for cell signal caused her iPhone to clear faster while we were in Switzerland. We included an external TYLT battery (older than the company currently sells), but she was still tired of running out of power when the iPhone was so crucial to navigating the Swiss public transport system and getting directions.
Overall, the Orange SIMs only worked, and for just $ 44 for the two of us, they were a steal to AT & T's international plans. The AT&T International Day Pass plan costs $ 10 per phone per day, so it would have cost us $ 280 for the 14 day trip. The AT&T Passport plan is cheaper at $ 60 for 1GB or $ 120 for 3GB (for a month), but it would still have been $ 180 combined.
So if you plan to travel to Europe this summer and look for connectivity (which I consider absolutely necessary in today's world – the trip would have been much more stressful without apps mapping), consider the Orange Holiday Europe SIM.
I have some notes and recommendations:
- Orange packs the SIM card and accompanying documentation into a tough blister pack. Make sure you open it with scissors or a sharp knife before you go, because it is not possible to open it with which airlines you can put on.
- Orange SIM only works in Europe, so you can't test it before you leave.
- You cannot find out your French phone number before inserting your SIM card when you come to Europe, which can make it harder to communicate to those who may need to contact you. 19659017] Remember to pack a SIM pull-out tool or paper clip so you can change the orange SIM card as usual when you arrive. Also, be sure to bring something to save your regular SIM card, as it would be too easy to lose.
- Orange wants you to register your SIM card and provide a paper form (in French) with a pre-addressed envelope (if you are up for sending international mail). The package suggests an alternative on the internet, but the site assumes you have a French passport. Fortunately, Orange Holiday SIM cards often provide another link that allows the passenger's nationality.
- Note that your phone number, which is French, actually starts with a 0, although Orange gives it to you with the country code instead. Probably people in France will know that and everyone else will use the +33 country code.
- I mentioned this last year (and restores the screen), but it's worth noting again. When you switch SIM cards, iPhone will make you update your "trusted number", which is useful if you need to log in from a new device. It is best to update to the new number, but when prompted, press Apply Both Numbers.
I hope that the Orange Holiday Europe SIM works for you and that you have such a nice vacation as we did! And if you come up with another solution to the international connectivity connection, please share it in the comments.