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Telephones

Telephones in Scotland operate pretty much like telephones in the U.S. or anywhere in the Western world. Pay phones are less common, given that the telephone companies say they're expensive to maintain and an estimated 90% of the population now have mobile (cell) phones. For calls within Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, you need to know the local or city codes, such as 0141 for Glasgow. They always start with zero but sometimes they are five digits long. For international calls, you need to know the country code of the place you are calling. For assistance in making calls outside the U.K., dial 155 for an international operator.

Calling Scotland from Abroad -- To call Scotland from outside the U.K., dial the international prefix, for example 011 in the U.S.; then U.K.'s country code, 44; then the city code, for example, 131 for Edinburgh and 141 for Glasgow; and then the local phone number. Inside the U.K. you add a zero before the local or city code, so 0131 for Edinburgh.

Cellphones

First, cellphones are called mobiles in Scotland. The three letters that define much of the world's wireless capabilities are GSM (Global System for Mobiles), a big, seamless network that makes for easy cross-border cellphone use throughout Europe and dozens of other countries worldwide. In the U.S., T-Mobile and AT&T Wireless/Cingular use this quasi-universal system; in Canada, Microcell and some Rogers customers are GSM, and all Europeans and most Australians use GSM. If your cellphone is on a GSM system, and you have a world-capable multiband phone, such as many Sony Ericsson, Motorola, or Samsung models, you can make and receive calls across civilized areas around much of the globe. Just call your wireless operator and ask for "international roaming" to be activated on your account. Unfortunately, per-minute charges can be high - usually $1 to $1.50 in Western Europe.

For many, renting a phone is a good idea. (Even world phone owners will have to rent new phones if they're traveling to non-GSM regions, such as Japan or Korea.) While you can rent a phone from any number of overseas sites, including kiosks at airports and at car-rental agencies, I suggest renting the phone before you leave home. North Americans can rent one before leaving home from InTouch USA (tel. 800/872-7626; www.intouchglobal.com) or RoadPost (tel. 888/290-1606 or 905/272-5665; www.roadpost.com). InTouch will also, for free, advise you on whether your existing phone will work overseas; simply call tel. 703/222-7161 between 9am and 4pm EST, or go to www.intouchglobal.com/travel.htm.

Buying a phone can be economically attractive, as many nations have cheap prepaid phone systems. Once you arrive at your destination, stop by a local cellphone shop and get the cheapest package; you'll probably pay less than $100 for a phone and a starter calling card. Local calls may be as low as 10¢ per minute, and in many countries incoming calls are free.

Voice-Over Internet Protocol (VOIP)

If you have web access while traveling, consider a broadband-based telephone service (in technical terms, Voice-over Internet Protocol, or VoIP) such as Skype (www.skype.com) or Vonage (www.vonage.com), which allow you to make free international calls from your laptop or in a cybercafe. Neither service requires the people you're calling to also have that service (though there are fees if they do not). Check the websites for details.

Internet & E-mail

With your own Computer -- More and more hotels, cafes, and retailers are signing on as Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) "hotspots." Mac owners have their own networking technology: Apple AirPort. Boingo (www.boingo.com) and Wayport (www.wayport.com) have set up networks in airports and high-class hotel lobbies. iPass providers also give you access to a few hundred wireless hotel lobby setups. To locate other hotspots that provide free wireless networks in cities around the world, go to www.personaltelco.net/index.cgi/WirelessCommunities.

For dial-up access, most business-class hotels throughout the world offer dataports for laptop modems, and a few thousand hotels in the U.S. and Europe now offer free high-speed Internet access. In addition, major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have local access numbers around the world, allowing you to go online by placing a local call. The iPass network also has dial-up numbers around the world. You'll have to sign up with an iPass provider, who will then tell you how to set up your computer for your destination(s). For a list of iPass providers, go to www.ipass.com and click on "Individuals Buy Now." One solid provider is i2roam (tel. 866/811-6209 or 920/235-0475; www.i2roam.com).

Wherever you go, bring a connection kit of the right power and phone adapters, a spare phone cord, and a spare Ethernet network cable - or find out whether your hotel supplies them to guests.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.