Our quick and easy guide to getting cheap data on your mobile phone and tablet when travelling in Europe and other international destinations.
Data roaming charges can provide a nasty shock if you don’t prepare before heading off on holiday. Thankfully travelling in the EU will soon be pain-free as roaming costs are scrapped, but in the meantime there are a few ways of getting affordable internet when you travel outside of the UK.
How to use your usual UK data allowance abroad
Three Mobile offers its customers free roaming in a selection of worldwide countries, including America and many EU destinations. The Feel At Home perk allows you to use your standard data allowance in the supported countries, with no need to top up unless you hit your usual limit.
Carphone Warehouse offers a similar service on its iD network too, along with some impressive great-value contracts. And you can also enjoy free roaming with Lycamobile in 18 different countries, with bundles starting at just a tenner a month.
How to buy a cheap data bundle for travelling
If your network doesn’t offer charge-free roaming, don’t panic. Most UK providers offer the option to buy a cheap roaming data bundle before you head off on your jollies, so you can avoid rip-off data charges. For instance, on O2 you can pay £1.99 a day to access your usual data allowance while travelling in the EU. Check your chosen provider’s website to see what their specific deal is.
How to use a Wi-Fi hotspot to connect your mobile devices to the internet when abroad
If you have a few phones or tablets or other mobile devices that you want to connect to the internet, your best bet is to buy a WiFi hotspot provider. This is a pocket-sized gadget that takes a SIM card and then broadcasts a WiFi signal for your other devices to connect to, giving them full internet access.
For instance, UROS’ new 4G Goodspeed device gives you 500MB to 1GB of data (dependent on your destination) for just £5-£9, with the option to pay an additional charge to top up your allowance. This data can be used by multiple devices at once and the Goodspeed has a good enough battery life to give you a connection all day. Setup is nice and simple, with a touchscreen display that shows you connection and battery status as well as the network info you’ll need to connect your mobile gear.
There’s also the GlocalMe G2, which again has a touchscreen display to help you get online. You can enjoy local data rates in over 100 supported locations, instead of ridiculous roaming charges, with the option to buy bundles for specific regions or a general worldwide bundle for €30. The G2 supports up to 20 devices at once, so your entire family can get in on the action. And as an added bonus, the G2 also doubles as a 6000mAh battery pack, to charge any almost-dead phones on the move.
Bear in mind of course that you’ll need to add on the cost of the WiFi hotspot devices, which don’t come cheap.