The question is always, “What’s the best way to stay in contact with friends and family back home?”
The approach I take when travelling abroad is to purchase a short-term service plan through a service provider (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobil, etc.) that allows me to text, use data and to make phone calls whenever in cell range. These plans and their service providers have agreements with many of the service providers in the country or countries in which you are travelling. I’ve found this to be a quite manageable solution, one that provides much convenience, but at a price. This approach works well in Europe and many other parts of the world. Check with your service provider before hand.
Other methods to stay in contact by phone are purchasing, if you have a simple cell phone or a smartphone that has been unlocked, a SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card and service package for your phone (either before leaving home or once in Europe). Or, you can purchase a simple pay-as-you-go phone when you arrive in Europe. I have not witnessed much success with the SIM card approach, but I know this works well for many travellers in many other countries. One time, a friend of mine spent three days emailing back and forth with his IT group back home trying to get a SIM card to work on his business phone. Too, there are scams being used on the pay-as-you-go phone method. With either approach, if you purchase either option, make darned sure the phone works before you leave the shop. The salesperson will say things like, “It takes a few hours to activate, no problem.” Only, there is a problem, the service never does come online and by the time you discover this, you are too far down the road to bother going back.