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I like to stay connected when I travel
I’m constantly on my phone on a daily basis, whether in a WhatsApp group chat about an upcoming girls holiday, texting pictures of my cat to a friend or on social media scrolling my life away.
I’m connected constantly, we all are.
The same goes for when travelling abroad, I want to stay connected ... which can be a task in and of itself.
I want to let my family and friends know where I am in the world and that Iare safe, by updating them via social media, Whatsapp, text or phone without incurring ridiculously large phone bill.
For my first trip interrailing through Europe, I used my phone in Croatia, not releasing Croatia was not a part of the EU at the time and received an eye-watering £325 phone bill (I almost cried) when I arrived back in London.
To make sure I stay connected online while travelling without ever getting an astronomical bill like that again, I do the following.
So, here are some of my tips on how to stay connected while travelling & avoid roaming fees
UNLOCUNK YOUR PHONE
UNLOCK YOUR PHONE
Gone are the days when you had to unlock your phone via a dodgy looking phone shop in the back of an alleyway and pray for the best.
Unlocking my phone allows me to use other SIM cards with my phone while travelling international and isn't illegal.
You can have your phone unlocked by your network via a text or e-mail these days, with no extra charge to do so.
I have my phone unlock and ready to use a few days before I travel.
BUY A LOCAL SIM
Once I arrive at my destination I buy a pre-paid local SIM card, I find this the best and cheapest way to stay connected.
Websites like Travelersmobile are great for researching different mobile operators for the destination you are visiting and comparing the various tariffs and prepaid cost available.
There are also international SIMs, that you can use, but these can still be more expensive to use in comparison to a local SIM.
The cost of data, called and text messages using an international SIM will depend on the country you are visiting.
So, check this before you purchase any SIM card.
The only upside is you get to keep the same phone number for many countries.
The following networks and companies offer a varying amount of international, data-only and country-specific SIM cards:
GoSIM: GO-SIM provides international mobile network with 3G data in over 210 countries and 340 networks. The card makes it easy for you to track your usage, recharge via their app and offer up to 90% savings on international roaming charges.
OneSimCard: OneSimCard saves you up to 85% off on roaming charges, with free incoming calls in 162 countries, free incoming text worldwide and 3G/GPRS data in over 130 countries. Data rates start from $0.03/MB but can vary.
WorldSIM: A WorldSim card allows you to access the internet on a pay as you go basis in over 200, free incoming calls in over 95 countries and reduces your international roaming charges by up to 95%. Data rates start from £0.075/MB but can vary.
DataRoam: This an international pre-paid data-only SIM card with data prices varying based on country.
Always check that the SIM card is valid in the country you are travelling to, and how long the SIM card is valid for.
Some cards are valid for up to 30 days.
I am that person who asks if there is free wifi in the cafe, restaurants, MAC, Sephora (yes, there is free wifi in Sephora).
Even before the waiter has handed me a menu ... nor do I feel bad leaving if they don't. For most countries internet is a given even if it is at snail pace.
These free wifi tracking apps allow you to search the number of nearby wifi network in the countries you are visiting in advance.
I also only book a hotel that has free wifi, it would surprise you that there are hotels that charge for wifi. That's a no no for me and I find this ridiculous.
I avoid this by always checking on booking.com under facility, to see if the hotel provides free wifi.
I also read the reviews given by previous guests to see if there are time limitations on wifi, which floor are best to stay on for wifi or if wifi will be at a snail’s pace at specific times of the day.
Do to increase traffic during these times.
You can also check out hotelwifitest.com which is a search engine that ranks hotel with the fastest wifi for a given city.
I have found these apps amazing to text and video call for free:
Whatsapp: This is my favourite apps to use as you can send text, image, video and voice messages using your data only.
Viber: The app allows you to make voice calls using a phone number.
You can also send image and have group chats like Whatsapp.
TRAVEL ROAMING PACKAGES
There are many mobile providers, in Europe that offers some great international roaming plans.
I have listed this below:
O2 Travel: O2 Travel provides roaming service for both their pay as you go and monthly customers. For £4.99 you get 120 texts, 120 minutes of calls and data a day. You’re charged only for the days you use O2 Travel.
EE Travel Data Pass: Travel Data Pass allows you to use your phone internationally. The plan gives you 500MB of data at £3 per day in select Europe Zone, £4 in the USA & Canada, and £5 in nine other countries.
Three Feel at Home: Three allows users to spend their normal UK allowance of minutes, texts, and data when they travel, now in 42 countries worldwide at now extra charge.
In summary staying connected online while travelling the world doesn’t need to cost you a second mortgage if you follow the tips above.