(Today’s post is a bit different in that I will be asking for YOUR resources and opinions on what works for you:)

My cell phone contract is almost completed and I have the choice to continue with my current carrier (AT&T) or switch without a penalty next month. Since I am traveling to Europe this Fall I started to shop for a phone that would allow me to stay connect through WiFi so that I don’t have to lug my MAC laptop or buy a netbook for my trip.

After talking to several seasoned overseas travelers I decided my best bet would be to buy an unlocked phone through eBay or Amazon, or I could get my phone unlocked so that I could buy a local SIM card and get local rates for calls.

I thought the simplest solution would be to renew my cell phone contract, get a phone with WiFi, and get it unlocked through one of the reputable unlocking companies like iunlock. I learned some very interesting things in the process of shopping that both shocked and angered me.

One of the cell phone lines I shopped was Sony Ericsson, but I was confused by differing descriptions on their website and the AT&T website so I contacted them to clarify whether a particular phone had WiFi installed. The answer I got was that the phone was manufactured WITH WiFi but AT&T takes it OFF (so you are obligated to pay for and use only AT&T data services which cost $30 a month). Although I HATE that AT&T has removed WiFi on some phones, I do appreciate that at least I can use their SIM cards in an unlocked phone, unlike other carriers like Verizon, Sprint, Virgin, and Boost which either lock their SIM cards or use a completely closed system that does not allow use on unlocked phones. I am also considering an unlocked Nokia, which is the worldwide leader in cell phone sales but only available in the USA unsubsidized ($$$).

Of course my first two choices were the every popular iPhone and the Blackberry, but I learned that even though they both offer WiFi installed, and they can both be unlocked (for $75 each), if you update your software for either phone, you may also have to unlock you phone AGAIN, and both require a mandatory data charge of $30 per month in addition to call rates.

So at this point I don’t know which phone I want; what do you recommend? Do you travel abroad? How does your phone work overseas?