Travel advice

Sage advice for travelers in wheelchairs

ACTV water bus in Venetian Lagoon
ABOVE: An accessible water bus in the Venetian Lagoon. 

Sage Traveling offers "comprehensive accessibility information for the European traveler." Although it's a work in progress and has a few gaps here and there, it's the best site of its kind that we've run across, and it has the advantage of being written and edited by someone who travels around Europe in a wheelchair.

For information about traveling by wheelchair in more than 40 European cities, go to Sagetraveling.com.


Traveling in Europe with a mobile phone

Cellular phone user
by Durant Imboden

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?

Man with mobile phone  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. 

SIM cardYou'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.