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SIM purchase - LHR, EDI or Fort William area??

Detroit, Michigan
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SIM purchase - LHR, EDI or Fort William area??

We'll be arriving at Heathrow at 11 am on a Saturday in September (Delta T4) and will be taking an afternoon flight (3:15 pm - Virgin Atlantic, landing at around 4:30 pm) to Edinburgh. From EDI, we will be renting a car and driving up to just south of Fort William.

I know the SIMs are more expensive at the airports, but I'm thinking I won't find a Carphonewarehouse or Vodafone (or similar) in or around Fort William. I'll be looking for a phone/data SIM for my unlocked Sprint Galaxy S4. I know reception will probably not be great in the Highlands, but I'd like to have some access to phone/internet. I've read Vodafone has the best coverage, so ideally I would like to get a Vodafone SIM.

We'll be in the Highlands for a week, then will be in London for a week. I know I'll be able to find a SIM in London, but was wondering what my chances are of finding one before we get to London.

Thanks,

Kay

Suffolk, United...
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1. Re: SIM purchase - LHR, EDI or Fort William area??

Hi Kay,

There are Carphone Warehouse and Vodafone shops in The Gyle Shopping Centre which is only two miles from the airport although I appreciate you may not want to drive there on your first day.

The Vodafone shop is open until 6pm on Saturdays.

By the way I hope you are not intending to drive after your long flights. You will be tired and suffering from Jetlag.

If you haven't booked your car yet make sure you specify an automatic if you are not used to stick shift. Most of the cars here are not automatic and you don't want another thing to worry about.

Bob

London
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2. Re: SIM purchase - LHR, EDI or Fort William area??

Manage your expectations on the data element when you're travelling around the highlands. There is 3G service in Fort William, but away from there you will only get a 2G service or (in many places) nothing. It's OK for text messages or email, but way too slow for surfing or uploading pictures.

Edinburgh...
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3. Re: SIM purchase - LHR, EDI or Fort William area??

By the time you get clear of the airport and collect your car, you will still have time to pop in to the Gyle: vodaphone closes at 8 pm.

If you feel it's getting late and you have to go, you're correct as far as I remember/can tell: no phone shop in Fort WIlliam. If you're using the car to tour around, you will find a vodaphone shop in Inverness at the Eastgate Shopping Centre - I think all of the main providers have stores in Inverness.

I also guess there will be a few small companies like http://invernessmobilephonecentre.co.uk/ who might be able to help.

Southampton, UK
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4. Re: SIM purchase - LHR, EDI or Fort William area??

Could you not buy one from Vodaphone and have it sent to your accommodation in Scotland to await your arrival?

Bingley, United...
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5. Re: SIM purchase - LHR, EDI or Fort William area??

< We'll be arriving at Heathrow at 11 am on a Saturday in September (Delta T4) and will be taking an afternoon flight (3:15 pm - Virgin Atlantic, landing at around 4:30 pm) to Edinburgh. From EDI, we will be renting a car and driving up to just south of Fort William. >

How long will you have been travelling without proper sleep?

Stanley, Falkland...
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6. Re: SIM purchase - LHR, EDI or Fort William area??

Investigate the SIM at LHR. They cost very little and you have hours

Suffolk, United...
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7. Re: SIM purchase - LHR, EDI or Fort William area??

According to the Vodafone website the shop at the Gyle Centre closes at 6pm on a Saturday.

www.vodafone.co.uk/find-a-store/index.htm

Edinburgh, Scotland
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8. Re: SIM purchase - LHR, EDI or Fort William area??

Driving EDI to Fort William after a transatlantic flight and a domestic connection to boot?

And after dark!!!!

That would be suicidal - and you might take one of my friends with you.

Don't. Just don't.

Edited: 27 March 2014, 23:09
Edinburgh...
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9. Re: SIM purchase - LHR, EDI or Fort William area??

Travelbob is right - I read your original post too quickly and somehow thought you were arriving midweek. 6 pm is going to be kinda tight.

A long flight then a road trip of some hours - so everyone's dumping on you! But they're right, really ... why not look for a cheap hotel - there's a Novotel and Premier Inn at Edinburgh Park, and a Travelodge at Ratho Station - then up and at 'em in the morning? There are more expensive hotels at the airport or a Marriott at Maybury roundabout. That won't actually waste much time because I reckon you'd sleep in anyway after that journey plus long drive.

Edited: 28 March 2014, 00:14
Detroit, Michigan
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10. Re: SIM purchase - LHR, EDI or Fort William area??

Thanks everyone. I'll take the advice of spending the night at EDI to heart. I've been to the UK many times and know all about jet-lag and lack of sleep that first day. I'm hoping to get some sleep on the overnight flights to LHR and to EDI. If I feel I'm not safe to drive the three hours to our cottage, we'll spend the night at a hotel and proceed the next day. Thanks for the hotel suggestions, DerekG, I'll look into them.

Travelbob, I've already booked our rental car. Definitely an automatic! I've driven many times in the UK and have a SatNav that I'll be bringing along. Makes driving so much easier!!

1948Mike, it's difficult to purchase over anything related to electronics with a foreign credit card and foreign address. They either won't register/process a foreign card, or the item has to be delivered to the billing address on the card - but they won't ship outside the UK.

rcspeirs, I'm not expecting too much in the way of internet up in the highlands. Our cottage is 10 miles south of Fort William (and it doesn't advertise wifi) so probably will fall into that 2G range (if that.) I don't intend to spend my holiday looking for a signal or wanting to be connected, but phone, texting and being able to use some apps will be nice to have. Thanks for the reality check. :)

Thanks again for the all the advice. If I don't pick up a SIM at Heathrow, I'll check out that Gyle Centre. :)