People take their phones everywhere, and this will always include vacations or travelling. Taking your phone with you on your journeys is a safety blanket in terms of practicality, but there are other perks like a ready-made camera for capturing the memories along the way. However, one thing that you may not realise is that using your phone anywhere other than in your home country can bring about extra charges and increased data depletion. This guide has everything you need to know about using data abroad.

How to Use Data Abroad

It used to be the case, in pre-Brexit life, that phone companies waived roaming charges if you were travelling within the borders of the European Union. However, this changed when Brexit regulations came into place for lots of companies. There are a few exceptions, like Lebara, that still offer package deals for their customers that cover data usage abroad, but you have to look for it to ensure it is activated before you go. Read the following points for some more guidance about how best to use data when going abroad.

Use Wi-Fi Where You Can

Most places allow public access to their Wi-Fi network because the modern customer expects it. It serves their reputation and provides a convenient way to get around things like roaming charges when you’re out and about. Switch off your data and switch your Wi-Fi firmly on, and connect to your hotel, the bar, a museum, etc., whenever the opportunity presents itself.


Take Advantage of Free Calling Apps

If you need to ring home or another country while you’re abroad, alongside using Wi-Fi to your advantage, don’t forget to lean on the free call app options too. Where there is the option to use Wi-Fi plus one of these apps, like WhatsApp for example, as long as the person on the other end of the line has the same platform, this is a cost-effective way to catch up.

Learn About Roaming Charges

There is a strong possibility that you are facing roaming charges simply for having an active data connection while abroad. Some countries, and some providers, are exempt and include roaming charges as a part of a bundle or wider contract term. However, lots do not. Therefore, give your company a call before you go and seriously consider the answer. Being charged £2 plus a day just to use your phone is not convenient in any way and it will soon add up, especially for a longer adventure. If you know what is coming, you are better able to prepare for it and make the necessary changes in advance.

How to Get Data Abroad

There are a few options regarding accessing data abroad and each brings its advantages into the mix. What you pick will depend on how long you are travelling for, where you are going, and things like how often you take trips or need to contact people in a different country.

International SIM Cards

The best way to access data abroad is to buy a dedicated SIM card that is designed for this purpose. These SIM card options allow a mobile user to access basic apps like social media for the all-important photo dump, or to make calls and messages without incurring high charges or facing any unexpected bills.

What Are the Benefits of an International SIM Card?

The biggest benefit that will always be at the top of the list is that these little pieces of plastic are, simply, incredibly convenient. Being able to switch between your regular SIM and the dedicated international one will mean you save money on your journey and don’t expose yourself to all the data charges that often happen while travelling. They are perfect for businesspersons who go abroad frequently, and they make it easy to access local updates and information that may come in handy. Just make sure you let people know about your international phone number, so they don’t screen your calls when the time comes!

Buy an Add-On

Alternatively, if you don’t travel all that often and you want to stick with one phone number, you could look at your provider and see what add-ons are available. This is a viable option for people who are just going away for a holiday once a year, or a short weekend trip here and there. You don’t have to mess around with too much admin, and the charges are conveniently stacked onto your monthly bill.

Switch Providers for a Better Deal

For anyone who travels regularly, it might be time to look for a phone provider like Lebara that has better deals regarding international data usage. Saving money is always a top priority and one that everyone can get behind. Switching providers may seem like a drastic choice for a weekend away, but actually, there may be long-term advantages too. Many people stick with the first contract they ever signed purely because they never thought to look at the other options. If you are concerned about things like having to change your number or not wanting to pay more, then these are easily navigated too. There are always options to keep your current mobile number, and deals are highly competitive so there is every chance that you will come out with a better contract more suited to your budget.

What Do You Need to Be Extra Careful About?

Regardless of how well you plan, there are always things that crop up to throw you off course. There are a few red flags to watch out for regarding data charges abroad. For instance, there is often a cap on how much data you can use. If you don’t have a warning system in place, there is a major risk that you exceed this limit without even realising it. When you do, you will face a whole host of extra charges that can be debilitating and dampen the whole experience. Thankfully, there are a few preventative measures in place:

  • Caps from the government regarding how much can be charged. This is set at £45. Once reached, the data allowance will stop.
  • General warning systems for when the data limit is close that you can opt-in for.
  • The option to stop using data if the charges are becoming too much.

Common Queries and Answers About Using Data Abroad

Just in case your question wasn’t covered above, here are the most common FAQs for data usage abroad.

  1. Will I Be Charged for Using Data Abroad? The answer here is that it depends on your provider. Generally, yes, there will be expected charges for accessing data privileges while travelling to another country.
  2. Is an International SIM Worth It? If you travel a lot, for instance, you do a lot of work abroad, then the answer has to be yes. An international SIM card package allows you to manage your spending conveniently while offering all the perks that locals get too.
  3. What Are Roaming Charges, Exactly? Roaming is a term that phone companies use to define data usage outside of local areas.

Using data abroad means stopping and thinking about the consequences. The last thing any traveller wants or needs are unexpected charges interrupting their fun, or a phone that stops working because it has hit a usage limit. Prepare in advance and avoid anything that would put a spanner in the works.