14.07.2019

Using internet while travelling in Europe

Nowadays internet is not a luxury anymore but a necessity. You can do so many things with the help of internet - collect information, pay bills, watch funny or not so funny videos, book flights and accommodation abroad, just to name a few. So, of course, you want to use internet while travelling as well. And some of you, I’m sure, not only want to do it, you need internet during your travels. Because you work online or remotely. It’s a tool you can’t go without.

Even if you don’t work online, internet is something many of us can’t imagine their lives without anymore. Not even for a day. We need internet for just so many things and so many different reasons. A recent research shows that almost half of millenials in the UK say, that they can’t live without social media.

How to stay connected while travelling? How to use internet abroad? Isn’t it expensive?

Read on to find out more about how you can use internet while travelling in Europe.

Wifi symbol - Using internet while travelling in Europe

How to use internet while travelling in Europe

1. Use international roaming

The easiest option is to use your own SIM card.

If you’re from an EU country and you’ll be travelling within the European Union, it’s highly likely that it also gonna be the best option for you. Since the roaming charges have been abolished in the EU. But, anyway, it’s worth double-checking with your mobile operator to be sure what are the limitations and if there are any.

If you are from another country or you’ll be travelling to a country that isn’t a part of the EU, then it’s still worth checking what your roaming tariffs would be would you decide to use your current SIM card while abroad. Learn all about calls (both outgoing and incoming; yes, incoming calls may not be for free while abroad), text messages and internet.

If your mobile operator offers you really good roaming tariffs, use your existing SIM.

2. Buy a local SIM

If you don’t have a good data plan that you can use while travelling in Europe, get yourself a local SIM card right after arrival. You don’t even have to visit a mobile phone shop, most likely you can buy a SIM card already at the airport.

Do your research before going on a trip, though. Especially if you’ll be moving around a lot, staying for a long time or want to ge the best price possible. Find out what are the data plans and check how good is the coverage. Does it work well everywhere in the country? What is the validity of the SIM card, and how much does the top up cost?

One thing to remember - check before the trip if your phone isn’t locked. In other words, if it accepts SIM cards of other mobile network operators.

A mobile phone

3. Buy an international SIM

Another option is to buy an international SIM card that works in several countries.

With such a SIM card you mostly can receive calls for free. And also you get good rates for data, calls and texts.

The best part about this type of SIM card is that you can use it in multiple destinations. It’s not just only for one country. What’s even better is that you’ll have one set mobile phone number that won’t change, so your family and relatives will not have to change it in their phones too often either.

A good international SIM card is a great option for business travellers who go on short trips very often, including outside of Europe.

There are several companies offering international SIM.

Usually various packages that work both in Europe and worldwide are offered.

Some of the most popular international SIM companies are:

  • OneSim. Starting at 20 USD per SIM, includes credit.
  • WorldSIM. Free SIM, only pay for the credit.
  • KeepGo. 49 USD, 1GB of data included.
  • GoSIM. 10 AUD + recharge; or 19 AUD, credit included.

Using smartphone - Using internet while travelling in Europe

4. Use free WiFi

But maybe you are perfectly fine the free WiFi available at the destination?

And so you don’t even need to buy yourself a local or an international SIM.

Surely, your hotel or guest house will have a free WiFi. Use it when at the hotel - download offline maps and save places of interest, call your family and friends using messaging apps like Messenger and WhatsApp.

If you’ll need to use WiFi outside of your hotel you can always use the free WiFi of the restaurant, cafes, eateries and fast food joints you’re dining in. Look for popular chain restaurants, such as McDonald’s and Starbucks. Those usually have reliable WiFi.

Some of these places will have password protected WiFi but as a paying customer you can ask for the password. In some cases in order to connect to free WiFi you need to create an account or add a phone number when signing in.

There might even be free WiFi points all across the city you are traveling to. For instance, in Paris and Riga you’ll find free internet in so many places.

Libraries also have free WiFi. So do many museums and tourist information centres.

Smaller towns and villages may not have internet in every restaurant or cafe.

Do your research before you travel. So, you can understand if you will get free WiFi or not.

A phone and a cup of coffee

5. Rent a smartphone

Renting a smartphone is also an option. It’s especially useful for those travellers who have locked phones. This means that you are not able to use SIM cards from different cell companies on your phone.

There are several reliable international cell phone rental companies, as well as there are local cell phone rentals.

OneSIM is an international SIM company offering mobile phone rental.

Loan Me a Phone offers unlocked phone rental, but does not include a SIM card.

Some hotels provide their guests with a free smartphone that you can use.

6. Rent a Pocket WiFi

Just like you can rent a smartphone you can rent also a pocket WiFi!

With pocket WiFi we mean a portable modem with data connection. These things usually are very small and can be easily put in your pocket, hence the name. Mostly they are battery powered, meaning that at least for a few hours at a time you can use them without electricity. Then charge and use again.

Rent ’n Connect is one of the companies providing data modem rental in Europe. It works in Europe and Turkey, and it offers several plans, including unlimited data. Their pocket WiFi modems start at 6 EUR per day, depending on where you use it.

Another option would be getting a pay as you go WiFi hotspot (no contract WiFi hotspot), which might be a much better choice if you plan to use it for more than a week or two at a time.

Why use a pocket WiFi? It’s super easy to set up. You can connect several devices at the same time. It doesn’t matter if your phone is unlocked or not, or what kind of phone it is, as long as it has WiFi capability.

If you only need internet, renting a portable WiFi hotspot is a better idea than renting a mobile phone and using it as a hotspot.

Using a map on iPad

7. Use in-flight WiFi

Soon fast WiFi will be available on all commercial flights in Europe.

While we’re still waiting for that, here are some airlines in Europe that offer in-flight Wi-Fi for free:

  • Norwegian - free for all;
  • Turkish Airlines - free for business class, Miles & Smiles Elite and Elite Plus members;
  • Aer Lingus - free for business class;
  • Finnair - free for business class and  Finnair Plus Gold members;
  • SAS - free for EuroBonus Gold and Diamond members, and for SAS Plus.

Happy travels!


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