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Can You Hear Me Now? Special Rates on Cell Phones for our Readers

The promotions described in this article have now passed.

For trips outside the United States, savvy budget travelers have added a new item to their list of pre-trip essentials: mobile phone rentals. Let's face it, most domestic cell phones don't work abroad. Those that do charge astronomical rates -- higher, even, than the cost of using hotel phones. And the inconvenience of trying to work a calling card on many foreign phones just about outweighs the dollars saved in the vexing process. In fact, the only reason not to rent a mobile phone abroad is that you'll have no excuse for falling out of touch while you're away!

Travel Cell (tel. 877-CELLPHONE, or 877-235-5746; claims its rates are cheaper than the use of domestic cell phones overseas, and 70 percent less than hotel phones. They rent units for more than 150 countries, phones with Internet and e-mail access, and satellite phones for making calls at sea. For the new year, Travel Cell is extending two special offers exclusively to Frommer's Website readers. If you order a cell phone rental by January 31, for use any time through 2005, you get the first week free. Just mention promotion code FWF1204. The second deal secures a free companion phone with any regular cellphone rental, for any length of time. Just use promotion code COM1204 when you place your order.

Travel Cell owner Josh Mehlman is also thrilled about his company's latest newfangled product, the Nokia 6820 -- the mobile phone that all but sings and dances. For just $1 more than the standard rental fee in your destination country, you can rent a phone with high-speed, broadband Internet and e-mail access, full color capability, a fold-out keyboard, and a full digital camera. You can use the new Nokia anywhere in the world, either in your palm or from your laptop (for which Travel Cell provides a special cord). So, whereas a standard phone with Internet and e-mail access runs $29.99 a week, the Nokia with high-speed capabilities is just $36.99, for the same length of time.

In eight nations, Travel Cell also offers country-specific phones affording you the lowest rates possible on local calls. Country-specific phones are available in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Spain, and China. In all these countries except China, incoming calls are free.

And Travel Cell is now offering satellite phones, so cruise passengers can call their loved ones and business associates from the high seas. While cruise ships generally charge $8 to $10 a minute, Travel Cell costs you $2.49. Travel Cell also offer pre-printed business cards with your cell phone number, which you'll receive with your rental phone.

Roadpost (tel. 888/290-1616; is offering a special deal for Frommer's online readers as well. Click and you'll receive a $40 rebate on any international phone rental.

Roadpost offers service in more than 200 countries and boasts rates that are 80 percent lower than hotel long-distance charges. Marketing manager Miranda Steele says the cheapest way to go is to buy "bundled" packages that include air-time minutes with the rental price. The phones themselves are $79 a month, for service anywhere in the world, with no air time. The phone plus 30 minutes of air-time is $119, 100 minutes are $229, and 250 minutes are $379.

Roadpost offers country-customized phones in six European nations, with cheaper per- minute rates on bundled packages. In the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and Greece, phones are $79 for the rental, incoming calls are free, 30 minutes of air time are $99, 100 minutes are $179, and 250 minutes asre $299. "Most customers choose bundles," Steele says. "They can save you up to 40 percent on air time."