Going abroad is great fun. You can explore new places, relax on a beach somewhere hot and sunny, and sample new food in local restaurants. And because you are having such a fantastic time, of course you want to keep in touch with your friends back home. So you take lots of selfies of you lying on an idyllic beach, or sipping an expensive cocktail in a cool bar, and then upload them on Facebook. Or you regularly update your Twitter page and brag about the hot guys or girls you’ve been chatting up in the hotel disco. Unfortunately, doing all of this eats up your internet allowance at a huge rate of knots.
Happy Holiday Memories
By the time you arrive home and unpack your suitcase, the mobile phone company is generating a whopping great bill for you. Their computer added up all the megabytes of data you zapped on Facebook and Twitter and then concluded you owe the company around £2000. And there you were thinking about what a great holiday it was until the bill drops on to the front door mat with an ominous ‘thud’. So what went wrong and how can you avoid this from happening the next time you book a cheap package deal to Costa Fortuna?
Accessing the Internet Abroad
Most smartphones come with internet access built in. You can either access the mobile internet via 3G or, if you are lucky enough to live in the right area, 4G. Abroad the networks are different, but unless you are trekking through the Amazonian rainforest or you’re in the Everest base camp, 3G should be available at least some of the time. If 3G or 4G is unavailable, you can also use Wi-Fi to get online.
When you access the internet at home, your usage will be deducted from whatever allowance you have on your mobile contract, or, if you are on a PAYG tariff, charged at the applicable rate. Either way, it won’t cost you a fortune unless you go a bit mad and download thousands of hours of Justin Bieber music videos to watch in bed.
It’s a bit different if you go abroad. Because you are no longer on home soil, mobile companies have a completely different charging policy and in order to extract as much money as possible, they charge you as much money as possible to access the internet. Thankfully, there are ways and means available to you, the customer, to avoid paying a small fortune to access Facebook and other internet pages whilst you are working on your tan on a Spanish beach.
How to Avoid a Huge Bill
- Leave your phone at home – Most people don’t want to leave their phone at home while they sunbathe on a beach somewhere hot, but the best way of avoiding a huge bill upon your return is not to take your phone with you. However, if you can’t bear the thought of being ‘off grid’ for a whole week, this approach might be untenable.
- Switch off global roaming – The main reason why users end being stung by their mobile phone companies is because they forgot about the hefty charges and carried on using their mobile in the normal way whilst on holiday. The best way of avoiding this is to switch off the ‘global roaming’ feature the moment you set foot on foreign soil.
- Stick to Wi-Fi – Unless you are staying in a 1* hovel, you will probably have access to some free Wi-Fi during your holiday. And even if you don’t, Wi-Fi is typically available in cafes, public hotspots and other popular locations. So make use of free Wi-Fi wherever possible—it won’t cost you a penny.
Cheap Mobile Internet Abroad
Aside from the suggestions we have already covered, it is a good idea to look around for a cheap mobile internet package if you regularly travel abroad. Some mobile providers offer special packages for internet abroad. These are extras you can bolt on to your existing contract or PAYG package. They typically charge a fee in return for cheaper calls, texts and megabytes. However, you do need to read the small print to make sure you know exactly what you will be charged.
Another alternative if you are planning on spending a significant period of time out of the country is to buy a local SIM card and use this while you are abroad. If you do this you will only be charged local rates for texts, calls and mobile internet usage. However, you do need to make sure you can put a different SIM card into your phone before you travel—a lot of phones are locked to a specific network and therefore need to be unlocked before they can be used on a different network.
It won’t be possible to find an unlimited internet deal abroad unless you buy a local SIM card, but you can find some great deals if you ask the SIM Only Experts UK and price check different mobile internet providers.