We’re used to being constantly connected to the internet – but if you’re planning on going abroad, you may need to prepare yourself.
Some of us love the prospect of being disconnected from the online world when on holiday. But others want to be able to access the internet just like we would at home, be it for travel tips, social media or checking in with family.
If you’re not careful, using your data abroad has been known to rack up mobile bills into the thousands. No, we’re not joking. So follow this guide to understand a little more about data roaming charges.
Roaming charges are costs that you incur from your network for using your data abroad. In 2019, there are now far more options to access your data as part of your mobile phone contract while abroad, without the additional costs.
Many providers will offer International Roaming in their tariffs, both in and outside of EU. But if you’re not covered then you could be charged, as an example, over £10 just for liking a few Instagram posts.
Since 2017, we have been able to browse the internet at our leisure all across Europe just like we would at home – data roaming charges were abolished within the EU. There are still fair usage policies established by most network providers with limitations after certain periods but on the whole, it’s just like home. Hooray.
Europe is, by a long shot, the most popular holiday destination for us Brits, thanks to bargain airlines taking us to a diverse range of landscapes, cultures and climates within a relatively small geographical distance. And while you may have just got used to free roaming abroad, it’s important to get clued up, as recent political events may have a reverse effect with hefty roaming charges being implemented once more.
Outside the EU, unless international data, calls and minutes are included as part of your mobile deal, it’s a different story.
You can be charged for a multitude of things depending on where you are and who your network provider is. Making a phone call could cost you £2 per minute, or you could be charged just for connecting to someone’s voicemail even if you don’t actually leave a message. And it’s important to be aware you can also be charged for receiving calls and voicemails. This is why we highly recommend using a free app to call over WiFi to avoid racking up a huge bill.
Remember that ‘fair usage’ policy we mentioned earlier? If you’re out of the UK for longer periods of time then networks may review their data roaming charges. In other words, your contract’s international allowances cover you for going on holiday, not for living in other countries for long periods of time.
If you don’t absolutely need to be connected, then just turn your data roaming off. Simply put, that way your network cannot charge you, because you cannot access your data.
We also recommend connecting to WiFi where possible, whether that’s in your hotel, in a café or even if you’re walking around the city. You’d be surprised how many urban areas have free public WiFi spots (and they’re often better than in the UK!).
If you’re away for a bit longer or on-the-move, then consider buying a SIM on a local network – you’d just need to be sure your phone is unlocked to do so. Or, you could buy add-ons to your phone contract specifically for using data abroad.
Since reports of consumers being charged literally thousands of pounds for data roaming, most UK networks have, oh so kindly, decided to implement an automatic cap to avoid those extortionate charges. However, it’s strongly advised that you confirm with your provider that this cap is in place before you go abroad.
In sum, if you want to be super safe then turn data roaming off, stick your phone on airplane mode and connect to WiFi. You can’t get caught out then!