Attention all Forum Users.
We’re working on a brand new shiny tool to make your experience as simple as possible.
Which means the community forums is now read only whilst we work on a new & improved ‘My Contiki’ space.


Taking a phone to the USA

21 Jan 2011 katie said

Im on a contract plan I have the iphone 4 and its locked to Vodafone, I am unsure whether to take my phone or not and to buy a cheap American phone on my first day, as I don't want a huge phone bill and also it has a stupid microsim so I cant even put it in a phone that I already have which is unlocked...<BR>what do most people do, or do people just stay in contact via facebook?
  • Read the responses 22 responses so far
  • 23 Jan 2011 Jess_86 said


    Hey Katie,

    When I went over I bought a cheap phone but it didn’t work the entire time. So my advice would be to buy a phone card when you are over there. You can just use the hotel phones.

    I bought a $5 card and it last me for ages.

    Hope that helps Smiler<!--graemlin::)-->

  • 24 Jan 2011 cdm115 said


    When I went to the Europe from the US, ATT had options on their plans to get international service for a reduced cost. It wasn’t cheap but was reasonable for calling home every week or so to check in. They also had plans for texting. I would check with Vodafone and see if they have similar options.

    Otherwise I would use the wifi option on your iphone to check email and facebook to communicate with home.

  • 6 Feb 2011 Brad1877 said


    HI Katie, I am going to take my Iphone to use the wifi which is free in most of the hotels in the USA. I have skype on it to use for free phone calls to other skype users. I was there in ’09 and used the calling card that came with the contiki documents which worked well too.
    Have Fun!

  • 21 Apr 2011 Kristyn said


    Thanks guys! Katie i will be sussing this out with Vodafone next week…i’m in the same boat as you, i’m on a plan with Vodafone and my phone works really well overseas, i’ll be taking it with me and buying a phone card at the same time to call home….i will use my phone for messages etc if need be but will use the phonecard as my first priority. Will let you know what the rates and fees are with Vodafone…my email is chat soon! :-)

  • 21 Apr 2011 Kristyn said


    Also i’m getting a spraytan over there before i head on my contiki too! hehe! I’m going to do a google search and double check it with my mate who used to live in LA…i’m thinking …here is the link to the top 7 Spraytanning Salons in LA

  • 21 Apr 2011 Kristyn said


    I’m going with these guys on Venice Beach when i am there a few days before the tour starts :-)

  • 21 Apr 2011 Explorer1236356 said


    i would say buy a phone when you get there. i was looking for myself and my rates for vodafone were sooo high. places like radio shack (if you are staying at kyoto grand there is one on 750 West 7th Street
    LA – (213) 680-1500….kind of around the corner) have phones and sims. phones are really cheap. at&t apparently have the best service so they might be worth looking into. just be careful walking around that area…some other travelers have said that its a bit scary…but i wont know that for myself until i get there NEXT WEEK!! wooo. good luck and have fun :)

  • 27 Apr 2011 BigCountry Williams said

    BigCountry Williams

    you need to find out from your Carrier if your Wifi with work over Seas. If so then use that to talk to people etc. via E-mail etc. you could get a cheap pre-paid phone once you get here, but it may not have international capabilities. When I go to Europe in Aug My Blackberry Bold(I’m in NYC) has International capacities, So if needed i will be able to talk/text when I add a international plan which is like $4.99 for a month( I have sprint) then the rates vary. But I’ll be using Wi-Fi mostly!

  • 18 Jul 2011 nik_noodle said


    Has anyone taken their phone over to the USA and just purchased a pre-paid sim card to put in it for the time they are travelling?
    If so; who did you use? And was it easy to do?

  • 18 Jul 2011 ax said


    hey nik i am thinking of doing that when i go on the wild western next month. from what i understand (and im on a telstra cap plan) you have to :
    ring up telstra and get them to unlock your phone (they do this for free)
    leave your sim card at home in australia
    purchase a pre paid sim card when you arrive in the USA (i heard AT&T is a good provider)
    put the sim card in your iphone and use it, plus you can use the free WIFI all around the place

    i am thinking of doing that, although i dont know if i should just buy a camera, or take the iphone and do that and also cause it has a camera inbuilt in it.

    hope that helps


  • 18 Jul 2011 katie said


    I just come back from the USA, I took my iPhone I didn’t get it unlockeD and just used the free wifi in every hotel, some people got charged so much for there phones whilst over in USA, just by a phone card to ring home and use the free wifi, during the days your doing so much so don’t even need your phone to talk back home :)

  • 18 Jul 2011 nik_noodle said


    Thanks Ax.
    Yeah I’ve unlocked my phone (I’m on a Virgin plan) and was going to take my sim out and buy one over there but didn’t know how common it was. I’ve googled a fair bit and came up with AT&T as well. I’m going to Hawaii for a while afterwards and it looks as though they have pretty good reception there as well which is a positive!!
    I’m doing the Wild Western as well. Can’t wait!!
    I am taking a seperate camera. I will take some pics on my phone but I still prefer to use my camera for photos. If you don’t already have one then I suppose it’s up to you.

  • 18 Jul 2011 Hannah said


    I have a fam friend who is frequently in USA, And he reccomended AT&T.. My bro n his mrs have been on two contiki tours in USA and said that many of the others on tour bought a cheap american phone/sim and they spent most of the credit just setting the phone up and didnt have reception in a few places!

    Im taking my mobile (samsung Galaxy) and will just take mi aust sim out and purchase a US simcard when i get there.. I want my aust simcard with me however so i can occasionally put it back into my phone while im over there to check for texts ect, then when i arrive back is australia i can call family ect at the airport. Ive been advised to get the Internet disabled on my ph however as a few fam friends have racked up hugeeee bills ($3000) as their mobile was constantly searching for a tower (data roaming) and will just use the internet cafes to update friends via facebook.

    Which date tour are u on Ax?

  • 19 Jul 2011 ax said


    hey hannah whats up!
    i think ill take my ph n buy a at&t sim over there, should be easier!
    im on the wild western next month, the one that departs on the 14th. i am getting to the usa on the 11th and leaving on the 22nd of september, so staying on for 4 wks after the tour ..
    what about u?
    man this is gonna be crazy since i only come from a real small country town haha

  • 19 Jul 2011 cdm115 said


    Verizon has the best coverage country wide. Virgin may use Verizon’s network for their phone service. AT&T gets a bad wrap at times, but probably has the second best coverage in the US.

  • 19 Jul 2011 Hannah said


    Ohh what a bunmer, I was lookin at that date for wild western buy went with the 10th as the dates flyin out suited me more!! I arrive to l a on the 8th, leave the 25th aug. What area do u come from?! Im sure youll have a blast :)

  • 30 Jan 2012 MaryB said


    Hi Katie,
    I called optus to get my phone unlocked first, took about 24 hours or 48 or something like that. Then I ended up getting an AT&T sim card later on which came with free credit, but it was sort of difficult to find sim cards when we were there (Vegas). Unlike australia, they don’t randomly sell them in supermarkets for $2 lol. I had to go to an AT&T branch and I dont remember it being cheap, unless we got ripped off. Be careful. Before I got a sim card, I was using phone cards I bought in the hotel to call family and friends. I suggest you take your laptop with you as this really helped me to keep in touch with everyone on facebook and skype (even gave my mum a tour of my las vegas hotel lol), specially if the hotels you’re staying at have wifi. :o)

  • 17 Feb 2012 Paige said


    anyone know how common microsims are with these companies- AT&T sim card sounds like a good option! Thanks for the advice guys!

  • 13 Mar 2012 Stevenfrommelbaus said


    thanks for all the advice

  • 1 Apr 2012 Chrystal said


    For another option for Aussies, especially if you travel a lot or at least once a year, you could always go to and get a sim card off them before you go. Basically you use it in an unlocked phone and it will pick up any network available in another country, also you top up the credit on it to how much you want. And there’s a 1800 number for people to call you from Australia.

We are no longer accepting new responses to this discussion thread.



Visas? Money? Where to go? Chat to us about travel.