I am happy to report that I worried more than I needed to. I purchased a pre-paid International Sim card from Telestial JT Travel Buddy for $19.00 and it came with a $10.00 credit. I was able to check my usage, as well as top off if need be online, or with the Travel App. It was an easy, painless set up with the instructions provided. I found this company to be the cheapest and they had many options available, all of them seemed very reasonable. It is not however, an Italian phone number, but one from Australia. You may be able to get a Sim Card in Italy that is cheaper – I did not do a great deal of research on that. I was hesitant because I needed to be able to use a phone as soon as we landed and did not want to hassle with setting up a new phone. I knew there would be enough new experiences to deal with when we landed 🙂
I bought the Motorola Moto E (2nd Generation) 8GB Global GSM Unlocked Phone for use with this International Sim card. It worked fine for the intended purpose, which was so that The Boys and I could communicate when not together and to call our contacts when we landed in Rome. I used it for a total of 18 calls and when I got home I still had money left over that would last for 3 months after my last use, or until I recharged it.
I learned that despite my US phone being an International GSM phone, I cannot use a different Sim card in it.. Verizon does not allow this. The phone will not work with anything other than the Verizon Sim card it comes with, so don’t make that mistake. I think AT & T and Sprint are the only phones that you can use a different Sim card.
I purchased the 1 month International Plan with Verizon as a back up on my US phone, and it worked despite all the talk I’d heard otherwise. Verizon set up the Data Usage in 2 separate lots over a period of one month. Since I was leaving shortly before my billing cycle ended, they put half of the data on the current month, and half on the following month which was nice. The apartment managers in Florence & Venice, after the initial contact call, used text messages to communicate using my US Phone. When calling home, I used my US phone also. Despite the fact that I did not have a texting package at the time, my International Plan covered all the texts and phone calls. I did not have any surprise charges from Verizon when I got home.
Better safe than sorry and I will probably do the same thing when I travel outside the US in the future. A back up sure can’t hurt right? I made sure to turn off ‘data’ on all my devices while I was in Italy. This way, I only used WiFi and didn’t accidentally use any data.