Amsterdam Tech Tips
Now that I’ve been in Amsterdam for almost a month I have a few practical technology tips to share.
The short story
I did some research and found most people were partial to LycaMobile, the other big carrier was Lebera. You can grab these in the airport when you get off of the plane, but we were exhausted and in a rush to meet our house host, so I waited till the next day. No matter what part of the city you are staying in, there are a multitude of shops that sell SIM cards, and the cards to ‘top up’ as they say your minutes/SMS or data. We’ve been doing fine with 1GB of data for the month, mostly using the phones for Google maps, Yelp, Whatsapp, web searches and email.
The long story
It’s a hard decision whether or not to keep your old phone number to return to after travel. None of the US carriers have anything remotely close to a plan you could use for long-term travel. I was with At&t, so I called them up and tried to find a solution. You can imagine how that went.
Cell phone companies and utilities have to be the most ass-backward companies in the world. I was a customer with AT&T for 7 years, paying around $160 per month for 2 phones, one would think that they would want to keep me as a customer. I suppose they are making money hand over fist, so what’s one less monthly payment.
When I called the customer service person gave me the please don’t leave us – song and dance- to which I replied, I would love to say, let’s figure it out. Not possible, the best they could do was a 6-month hold at $20 a month. No voice mail, I wouldn’t even be able to leave an outgoing message, to let people know I wasn’t using that number anymore.
At the end of the 6 months, I could pay $75 a month for a phone I wasn’t able to use. NO thanks! So I did some digging and found a company called US Mobile. We were able to get plans for $10 per person per month. We moved our us numbers and left an out of the country message, easy as that. When we got to Amsterdam and it was very easy to get local SIM cards.
My husband Dave is working his day job throughout this adventure. He works remotely, which is the reason we can be on this year away in the first place. He needs fast, reliable internet access, that’s paramount. Turns out it’s super easy to get fast reliable wifi all over the city.
Pretty much every cafe and restaurant we’ve been to offer free wifi. It’s good to grab a coffee or snack to support the shop, but then you can hang all day, no one seems to care :). These wonderful cafes and bars have been our office for the duration. I’ve read rumors that KPN (a phone company) has free hotspots in the city, but I haven’t come upon any as of yet.
With the use of a converter most electronics work just fine in Amsterdam.
Computers have no issue, phone charging has gone smoothly. One item, however, did not work out so well. I will tell you to leave your steamer at home, save room in your suitcase. The amount of power the outlets put out is just too much for the poor steamer, the water boils almost immediately and rapidly, and comes spurting out the top, this doesn’t make for a very useful device. I recommend buying one when you get here if you can’t live without it.
If you are looking for anything you didn’t see here, drop me a line and I’ll try to help.