How to get the best mobile plan
How to get the best mobile plan. One with lots of data because Google Maps and Tinder are more important than mumsy’s twice-daily checkup calls. Also, Europe has no roaming charges as of 2018, so you can travel the continent and swipe right like a legend.
When it comes to using your phone abroad there are three options. Travelling without any mobile data and relying on WiFi hotspots, keeping your current network and sim and hope it works and doesn’t cost a fortune or picking up a prepaid sim when you arrive in Europe. All methods work and have their merits. Let’s explore.
Relying On WiFi
This is obviously the cheapest option as it will cost you literally nothing. These days there are plenty of establishments that will offer up WiFi for nothing at all, and as a savvy backpacker you can take advantage of that. Google Maps will allow you to save areas of their service for use offline and you can access at all times your downloaded music and books. Obviously the usefulness of your phone is drastically reduced and you’ll be unable to book travel, accommodation, find recommendations and pass the time on social media whenever and wherever you like. This method may work for a short time, but for any trips of substance you’re going to want to connect yourself to the network.
Keeping Your Sim
This totally depends on where you’re travelling from and who you carrier is. Many carriers will now allow you to continue using your home-country plan for a small daily fee. This is perfect for short-to-mid-term trips, especially if you have a plan at home that you are unwilling/unable to break. The days of restrictive roaming costs are coming to an end, because in a connected world it’s kind of bullshit. Do check your individual situation and options before you leave home, because still in some cases your phone won’t work, or it will be really slow and/or rack up a massive bill. If you’re on the road for a while, or aren’t locked into any plan at home, make sure that your phone is unlocked and pick up a European SIM at the start of your trip.
Getting A PrePay Sim Card
Not being a European resident it will be hard, if not impossible, to get on a European mobile plan, but never fear as prepaid SIMS are relatively easy to pick up and offer fantastic deals. A prepay sim means buying credit online or from a shop and topping up your phone manually. Most carriers will give you two ways of going about using your prepay sim. The first is to simply buy whatever amount of credit you want, €5, €10, €20 and so on. The second is to buy into one of their deals, they normally offer free texts, unlimited data, it depends on the carrier, and to avail of this deal you just top up by their specified amount each month and you’re automatically in on it. The pros of using a prepay is that if you decide you can only budget in €5 a month and no more then you can totally do that. The downside is that you may not always be near a shop or the internet to top up. With a tiny amount of preplanning it’s totally possible for you to stay on top of your credit and have data whenever you feel the need to slide into someone’s DMs.
Some Phone Networks
Depending on where you land in Europe there are kinds of different offerings. Shop around and see what works best for you. These are some carriers that we’ve found in most countries, who will offer you free roaming across the EU, and seem to have pretty good deals.
Three mobile has something called the ‘Feel At Home’ initiative. They offer free roaming in 60 countries, some of which are outside the EU, for prepay. For unlimited data, texts and calls, it costs around €30.
O2 offer free roaming within the EU, but unlike Three they do not have an offer which includes unlimited data. For unlimited calls, texts and 20GB of data it costs roughly €23 a month.
Vodafone’s best deal is allowing you to use your phone and plan from home in more than 50 countries worldwide, with more being constantly added, for a €5 a day surcharge.
A good range of data deals, ranging from €9 a month for 4GB to €30 a month for 15GB, with a few options in between. If you know how much data you use at home, this could be a good option to save a few bucks from the unlimited deals.
“Free European roaming is a godsend! For nearly 10 years we were constantly stung by excess roaming charges every time we’d duck up to France for a surf, which was weird considering that you don’t go through passport control, the currency doesn’t change, etc. If you were in France for the weekend, just using your phone like a normal millennial, you could arrive home with €50 and more in excess charges. For a backpacker, that was heartbreaking. You young whippersnappers don’t know how lucky you are with Euro roaming.” – Toby, Sales, Instagram Addict
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