I saw your post and I ended up making an account to offer my experience.
You could opt for the Global Data Plan that VZW offers. When I recently traveled to Japan, I used it and it helped me out. I used it for largely for sending out occasional emails to communicate with family/friends instead of making phone calls. The cost of the plan might vary depending on the country you travel to, but for me it was $25/100MB of data. I was told that getting this plan would not affect my current plan (unlimited data with no contract).
That said, BE VERY CAREFUL with your usage if you're cost-conscious. I'm pretty sure I kept my cellular/data usage minimal and also checked my online account to see how much data I was using. I thought that I would only pay $25 for my trip based on the estimate... It turns out that VZW's "estimate" on your account page isn't isn't accurate at all. I got a text message during a day out saying that I had gone over my initial allotment of 100MBs (see first pic and the timestamp). I logged in later that day to see how much data I had used but as you can seen from the screenshot below, I'm still within 100MB (again, make sure to note the timestamp). I called the toll free VZW support and the data usage estimate they provided me was something like 99+MBs used, which was much more of an estimate than what showed up on my account.
To say the least, I was very disappointed. They didn't offer me any sort of compensation and barely made any sort of apology for this gross underestimate. And to make matters worse, it seems that VZW has a more accurate means of tallying your data usage estimate (since the customer service rep could pull up more accurate usage statistics), but they displayed an "estimate" that was close to 80MB off the actual usage on your account webpage.
Would I use this Global Data Plan again? No. I will be doing more homework before my next trip abroad and I'd rather borrow a phone at the airport at a higher cost than go through this type of frustration.
As ScratchedUpAcura explained, it's a very frustrating situation to get into. Honestly, I'd just stay on Wifi networks when you could and stay away from using data on your trip. Now, as a heavy data user, I understand how hard this is going to be. However, it's the most cost-effective and easiest way to get through this type of situation.
Yes, I agree Anthony. Stay away from data usage unless it's an emergency/urgent situation is what I might recommend if this Global Data Plan is used. I used wifi quite a bit but I was apparently foolish to rely on the estimate. Even in those instances, I would also suggest people take precautionary steps to make sure data usage is minimal. For instance, if you use an email app, make sure to download all your messages when you have wifi, so that you don't end up wasting precious data downloading messages before you're able to send any messages.
And I guess the other thing I forgot to mention was the cost per minute of an actual phone call. It was 1.99/minute when I was in Japan with text messages being .50cents/text. I didn't use either service but I think buying a phone card would be the better option. Also, I'm not sure how this would work overseas since I didn't try but if you're able to use Google Voice on wifi, then it's very cheap to make international phone calls. I make phone calls to Japan from the US for 3 cents/minute using wifi. You do have to load your account with some money but otherwise, a very cost-effective way to make phones calls assuming that you have a device that can make use of Google Voice (e.g., laptop) and you're able to access free wifi.
pruitte1, if you specify what country/countries you're going to, you might get more specific responses.
I believe Verizon will unlock your phone to allow a local SIM card to be inserted for use while you're in Europe. There are benefits and costs associated with this approach, too ... the "global SIMs" I have seen advertised by a variety of vendors look to me to be at least as expensive as Verizon's global roaming plans. I have no idea what data-and-voice options will be available from a local provider in Europe.
We're looking into this too, as I want access to Google Maps for navigation when we're in Austria and Czech Republic this summer but don't want to break the bank. I'll continue to monitor this thread to see if anyone comes up with an "ideal" solution.
Your phone also have to global ready to be even capable of being unlocked for use overseas
I'm most definitely NOT a VZW employee. If a post answered your question, please mark it as the answer.