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  1. Default European gear that wouldn't work in US

    Preparing for the trip I asked myself: but would some of our things work in America. Like mobile phones, gas stove, GPS, car chargers... something else? What is better way to buy one there o to "survive" without.
    For sure, my mobile wouldn't work. We are going to travel from east coast to west and are thinking to buy mobile. Some phones wouldn't work in all states? What company has the widest coverage? We'll have to register phone in one zip code, but to use it in others would it be like national roaming (pay fof income calls, double price for everything...)? For international calls, is it chaper cell phone o pay phones? In EU some years ago almost all of them disappeared, is it same?
    About a stove, mine Campingaz Bluette wouldn't have refills. What is the cheap small stove (maybe one from walmart) cartrige could be found everywhere easily and be most economical?
    European car chargers would work?
    Some other bad surprises?

  2. Default Plugs

    Another thing, how are plugs in campings, some special kind?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Wow, good questions!

    I hope some of our European contributors who have traveled extensively in America can come in to give you some answers.

    Non-contract, pre-paid cellphone plans are becoming more common here. I'm not familiar enough with them to give you any insight into them but this report might be helpful. Note that there are other links on that page that might lead to further, helpful information.

    You're right that phone-booths are becoming a rarity here in the US. Even when they were common, they were also expensive for long-distance calls so I'm betting that calling Europe via a pre-paid cellphone plan would be your cheaper option.

    Read that report and then I think you're just going to have to visit the websites of the various pre-paid providers to find out what they would charge for calls to Europe.

    Americans taking electrical items to Europe buy adapters. I'm sure similar items are sold to adapt your European items to American standards. This article might give you a bit of explanation on what to expect but you'll need to google around to determine your own adapter needs. I'm no expert on this and wouldn't want to steer you wrong. This seller seems to have a lot of items that might be helpful but I'm not giving you a recommendation as I've never purchased from them.

    Yes, Wal-Mart or other "big box" store should give you the best price for an inexpensive camping stove to use while here. Your cheapest option is usually one that uses propane. And these propane canisters are easy to find, sold in most grocery stores and many mini-marts found at gas stations, etc. Coleman is the most common brand and easiest to find although there are other brands and they are interchangeable (you can use another brand with a Coleman stove or a Coleman propane canister with a propane stove made by another company. They look like this. They are too big and bulky for backpacking but are fine for car camping.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I don't see why EU car chargers won't work - we use 12vdc here too and aren't cigarette lighter sockets universal?

    The only major US cell carriers that use a SIM card are AT&T and T-Mobile. The other major carriers do not use GSM. Trying to buy a SIM runs into a residency/contract issue, the easiest thing to do might be to buy a cheap prepaid phone. You can buy refill cards just about anywhere. Prepaids have a flat rate per minute (both incoming and outgoing), but I don't know how they handle international calls. I do know that there is really no such thing as "roaming" any more - calls from anywhere in the US to anywhere else in the US are handled the same way wherever you have coverage. I've seen an AT&T "Go Phone" at Walmart for $20. The best coverage here is probably either AT&T or Verizon. Pay phones still exist, but they are getting less common. The easiest place to find them are in gas stations, convenience stores, and truck stops. Making international calls using a prepaid calling card is very easy from any phone - such as in your hotel room. Be mindful of any surcharges the hotel may put on your bill - some do charge 75 cents or so for calling an 800 number, which is how you use most calling cards. You can direct dial international calls, but the hotel will charge you a small fortune for that.

    Our "mains" system here is 120v 60Hz AC with standardized 2 or 3 prong plugs - except for large appliances, which are 220v 60Hz 3 phase 3 prong polarized plugs.

    Your GPS will work fine as long as you load it with US maps.

  5. Default

    That's great article about repaid phone plans! Will be very helpful.
    All europian contries are small, and you can use your phone everywhere with the same contract. In Russia there are districts/areas. If you register in Moscow, in St Peretburg you will pay national roaming costs: to recieve and to call. Do you have smth like this? If it is all as one nation I am glad!!!
    Thank a lot about suggestions about stove and plugs. I had some experience looking for a refills an finding all kind except the ones you need, to buy the most common type is best! I'll follow your advice.
    Luckely I have everything dual voltage, and just bought adapter for normal american plug. So I hope it will work in hotel, I just worry about campings. Are they kindly letting to charge your laptop, camera in the office?
    Last edited by helenkova; 05-28-2009 at 11:45 AM. Reason: didn't read yet previous post

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Roaming

    When it comes to pre-paid plans, I really don't know. You will have to check with the providers on that. I haven't paid roaming fees for years but I have a contract with Verizon. I know most, if not all, contract plans no longer charge roaming fees but I really don't know if it's the same with pre-paid plans. Sorry I'm not more help with that.

    You can usually rent campsites in commercial campgrounds with either no services at all, or with just electric. If you get an electrical hook-up you can charge right from your campsite. Of course, you'll pay a bit more for an electrical hook-up than a site with no services but the price difference usually isn't very much.

    The availability of electrical hook-ups in national and state park campgrounds really varies. Some have virtually no services at all at any campsite and some have as many as commercial campgrounds offer.

    Most people like to be helpful so I'd guess that if you don't have an electrical hook-up at your campsite that most campground offices would let you plug your equipment into one of their outlets for awhile. And, quite often, commercial campgrounds have rooms with TVs and other recreational equipment (like video games, pool tables, ping pong tables, etc.). It's quite possible that you can sit there and watch TV a bit and plug your gadget in to charge it. But all this is quite variable.

    Actually, it might be easiest to just invest in an inverter so you can plug things into your car. Here's a good article that explains inverters and makes recommendations for ones that should work for your needs.

  7. Default

    I was thinking to buy one prepaid phone around 10-15$ in some electronic store and airtime card ( Did you call it like this?) I don't need something fancy, just to recieve call from home and to call in US. Having elderly parents at home gives you extra worries.
    For international calls I'll use intnl card, as you said or Skype

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I would go to the first Walmart that you see and buy the $20 AT&T Go Phone. The rates will be the same no matter where in the US you are, and you will be charged by the minute for both incoming and outgoing calls. It will come with a "starter" airtime card, and you can buy airtime cards for AT&T almost anywhere - gas stations, convenience stores, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, etc. There are 3 plans you can choose from. There is a link on that page for the international long distance rates, which is in addition to the basic airtime rates.

    I'm not pushing AT&T - I assume the other major carriers have prepaid phones that work in a similar way.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default maybe a little optimistic

    $10-15 might be a bit optimistic for a prepaid cell phone. There are a few models out there for that price, but most of them will be about $30. Often times they also come with a base level of minutes or some other type of promotion.

    I started using Tracfone a few months ago and have been pretty happy with it. It generally works out to about 10-15 cents a minute, and I've been able to use it just about anywhere. They contract with several different companies, so the coverage is pretty good. There are no roaming fees, and I think they even offer International Calls for the same or a very similar rate. The same company also offers a service called Net10, which is a flat rate of 10 cents a minute, but the minutes expire sooner.

    I've also used ATT's go phone, which was ok, but it was more expensive based on my needs. I also wasn't as impressed with their coverage area, which had some pretty large gaps, even on interstates.

    Any company's phone should work across the country, although different companies will have different specific coverage areas or different roaming policies and charges. You can also buy almost any companies airtime card at most any store (there are also lots of "generic all company" cards) and you can also buy airtime from your phone from most if not all companies.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 05-28-2009 at 01:44 PM.

  10. #10


    Purchase the plug adaptors for electrical devices in your home country. In the US, stores that cater to travelers have adaptors for taking US devices to Europe, but they seldom carry adaptors for using European devices in the US.

    DVDs and players in the US are region 1, Europe is region 2. A region 2 DVD purchased in Europe will not play on the region 1 player in your US hotel room.

    Two way hand held radios sold in Europe are on the wrong frequencies and not legal to use in the US.

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