From: Mark (SF) on
Like others, I've heard horror stories about "thousand dollar phone
bills" for people using their iPhones abroad. Specifically, it's those
"little sips of data" as the apps refresh their data and do searches
at our bidding that creates such surprises. (It's not uncommon for a
traveler to think that they're OK because the charge for roaming voice
is reasonable - but it's the data that costs 'ya) ...and solutions
involving "jailbreaking" my iPhone made me nervous

I used a company "iPhone Trip" ( to rent a SIM card
for international data-only 3G service. It costs $15/day (various
pricing schemes are available). This allowed us to use the ESSENTIAL
map apps to navigate Venice and Athens (as well as keep up to date
with Facebook and email). Although ain't cheap, that's a lot less than
the AT&T charge.

It took about 30 seconds to swap the SIM card, and immediately after,
my phone was just fine, with all my apps and settings as before (This
was true both swapping in the new SIM and later replacing it with my
original one from AT&T)

One downside is that it is a DATA ONLY plan. No problem using any of
my apps or surfing the net. However, I needed to use Skype to make a
voice phone call (luckily, they just started supporting 3G) - and were
I to text, I would've needed to use a 3rd party app. Note - if you
need an incoming number for people to call you on Skype, you can pay
for one from the US, but you must be an Italian resident before you
can apply for an Italian number. Since I only needed to make one phone
call over 19 days and I seldom text, that limitation wasn't a factor
for me.

I'm sure people using Android phones don't have this issue - but if
you're hooked on your iPhone (especially if you're as directionally-
challenged as me) this was a wonderful solution that really made a
huge difference to us as we navigated Venice, Istanbul and Athens.