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Depending on your provider you should be able to use your phone in Germany. But please be sure to check with your service provider before you travel for further information or check your manual (look for "tri-band" and "quad-band) as Europe uses a different network compared to the US. The simplest way to travel with your own phone would be to set up an international plan with your carrier, that way you can get the best deal that works for you.
Another option, if you possess a smartphone: disable your data roaming and use wifi where possible. Even though wifi is not as available in public spaces as in the US and Canada, more and more German cities introduce the possibility of using free wifi in certain places. Some cafés, restaurants and of course hotels offer access to a wifi system though. Pre-paid phone cards can also be bought in various phone stores such as Vodafone or T-Mobile and this way you can use your own cell phone. The cards are usually sold from about 10 euros with an additional fee for the German number. German supermarkets (like LIDL, ALDI and real) sometimes offer phone cards for your smartphone as well.
Even easier, hotel-room phones are available as well as payphones so you can keep track of how much you are spending.
If you want to call a German phone number from outside the country, dial 0049, the area code (without the initial 0) followed by the individual number. When calling within Germany, dial the area code (always starts with a 0) and the local number. If you want to call an American or Canadian phone from Germany, dial 001, the area code and the individual number.
Remember: the German time zone is Central European Time, so depending on your location in continental America, the time difference is between 6 and 9 hours.