For information about traveling by wheelchair in more than 40 European cities, go to Sagetraveling.com.
If you're a visitor from abroad who's traveling in Europe with a laptop or netbook, do you really need a cellular phone? Wouldn't it be nearly as easy--and a lot cheaper--to use Skype or another free Internet calling service?
Those are good questions, and to some degree, the answers are "No" and "Yes" respectively. But (and there's always a "but") there are times when you may be glad that you brought a multiband cellular phone with you.
Here's one good example: A few years ago, I made the mistake of wearing a heavy camera bag with the strap across my body and against my neck as I left a cruise ship for Rome's Fiumicino Airport. The strap compressed an artery, reducing the blood supply to my brain, and I ended up in the hospital with a minor stroke. (See article.)
There was no phone in my hospital ward, but fortunately, I was carrying a multiband phone with a Talk Abroad SIM card from Cellular Abroad, so I was able to call home during my stay, and I could phone the airline to postpone my flight and avoid having to pay for another ticket.
Also, you can't always count on having a Wi-Fi connection, and even when you do, there's no guarantee that you'll be sitting next to your notebook or netbook to receive an incoming Skype call. It's nice to know that, if there's an emergency back home, you can be reached by phone.
If you do travel with a cellular phone, you should be aware that international roaming can be horrendously expensive. For example, U.S. cellular networks often charge several dollars per minute for calls made while traveling abroad.
You're likely to be much better off with an "unlocked" multiband GSM phone and a third-party SIM card--either a single-country card (if you're spending most of your time in one place) or a multi-country card like Cellular Abroad's Talk Abroad. Per-minute charges for outgoing calls are nearly always far cheaper than international roaming fees, and incoming calls are usually free for the recipient (meaning you).
For more information, see our article on Cellular Phones in Europe.
1st and 2nd photos: Motorola.
Do you have any favorite destinations in Europe? Are there any tips you'd like to share, about topics like packing, transportation, or another topic? Share your thoughts by posting a comment.