We’ve got our sensible hats on here at Euroventure, and while snapchatting your way to being the envy of your friends might seem like a great idea while you’re away, you might not thank yourself later when you look at your bill… here’s how to avoid the post-holiday fear with our mobile phone roaming tips.
You’ve booked that amazing Interrailing holiday, got that countdown widget on your phone; you’ve even been super organised and ordered the currency you’re going to need (even for that one awkward country that doesn’t use the euro…) But there’s another thing you need to ensure: that you don’t end your holiday with a massive phone bill!
We all know using your phone abroad usually costs more than it normally would. But whether it’s letting your family know you’re safe or sending jealousy-inducing photos back to your friends, sometimes you have to use your phone. Luckily there are plenty of tricks you can use to avoid spending the next few months’ worth of money on your phone bill.
Okay, this may be stating the obvious, but always be on the lookout for Wi-Fi. It’s no longer just fancy hotels that have Wi-Fi – you’ll find it in loads of hostels too, as well as restaurants, bars and cafés. Most of these are free, but even if you find yourself having to pay a small amount to use it this can still work out much cheaper than using mobile data. This is especially true if you’re planning on doing something data-intensive such as uploading a lot of photos.
A word of caution though: as it’s public Wi-Fi this is more of a security risk, so if not essential, try and avoid doing any sensitive browsing that involves banking or credit card information. If the site is using HTTPS it is encrypting data which does make it more secure than HTTP, but more often than not the browsing can wait till you’re on your home network.
While has now abolished roaming charges within the EU, outisde of this different providers are currently charging varying amounts for data dependent on the country. Some providers offer bundles, where you can pay a set amount of money for a certain amount of data, and these can often work out cheaper than paying per MB.
If you’re with Three you can start to celebrate now. Three’s Feel At Home covers a lot of non-EU countries, meaning that if your trip only involves these countries your data will cost the same as it does in the UK. If you’re travelling to regions like the Balkans, however, you won’t find a lot of coverage from regular networks. If you’re travelling to lots of different countries, whether you’re on Three or not, the price can change massively as soon as you cross the border, so do be careful. Luckily it’s easy to check how much it costs using the Broadband Genie Roaming Tool; simply choose the countries you’re going to and see the costs for all the providers.
You can end up using vast amounts of data simply because of a few settings you can easily switch off! Having auto updates turned on for your phone’s software and apps is usually great, as it helps security and makes sure bugs are fixed. However, this can massively eat up your data and cost you a bomb without you realising it. Obviously the simple solution is to turn off auto-updates, but an alternative available on lots of phones is to set it so that auto updates only happen when on Wi-Fi.
The same is true of auto uploads. We love to know that the photos we take are going to be safe and secure even if we’ve lost our phone or dropped it in the sea, so many of us have set our photos to automatically upload our pics to Dropbox or iCloud. But just as downloading uses up a lot of data, so does uploading. Again, either turn this feature off, or set it to only upload when on Wi-Fi.
Something that can often work out cheapest when travelling is a portable Wi-Fi system that you can share with your friends. It saves you each shelling out on roaming costs, plus it means if you’re staying somewhere without Wi-Fi it’s not an issue. There are lots of different options out there, but one of our favourites is Tep Wireless. It creates a wireless hotspot that you can share with up to five devices.
The advantages of devices such as these are that you can rent them for the number of days you’re travelling, and they can work out much cheaper per day as they offer unlimited data. However the connection is not available in all countries and the speed can massively vary (especially if you’re sharing the speed across five devices). So if you’re going to a more rural area, you shouldn’t count on this to give you a fantastic online experience.
So maybe we’re cheating a little bit with this tip, but it will definitely save you money. If you’re not gone for long (and your parents won’t start worrying too much) it might be worth considering going back to the days before the internet and putting down that phone.
After all, does it really matter what your friends are posting on Instagram when you’re surrounded by gorgeous scenery or exploring that buzzing city? Plus it means when you do return, you’ve got a great opportunity to get all your friends together and catch up on what’s been going on in their lives, as well as telling them all about your incredible trip!