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.
OUR CAMPAIGN IS LIVE on Fundwise! Click the button to learn more. Invest from 400 euro I want to learn more
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.
Had an issue with a flight recently? You might be eligible for up to 600€ compensation Check your compensation
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And remember, whenever your flight is delayed, cancelled or you’ve been denied boarding – you might be entitled to flight compensation. Contact us to get it sorted out right away!
How to save phone & wifi when travelling in europe
One of the most common problems travelers are facing when traveling abroad is “How can I stay connected to the internet during my trip?”. It is now easier and cheaper to get wifi in Europe and abroad than it used to be. You just need to know your options.
Nowadays, every traveler needs his smartphone/tablet/laptop. Getting the internet abroad is a top priority. For some users, it will be for staying in touch with family. For others, it will be to kill time during long transfers browsing Facebook or use maps if you get lost.
4 Ways To Get WiFi In Europe
1. Get an international/global plan for Europe with your provider
Just going online on your provider’s website and getting a global plan is probably one of the easiest options. You will get a basic data and/or call package for your trip to Europe. Once you land in Europe this will automatically be activated.
Then you can rush on Facebook as soon as you land to post the cool photos you just took in the plane. But international packages are usually the least affordable way to get internet in Europe (After Data roaming).
Depending on your provider you can be charged from $30 to $50 just to get 100 Mb of data usage (that will last you about few hours). And more importantly, you can end up paying insane amounts of money if your provider does not notify you when the international package is over. You will switch automatically to data roaming in Europe without knowing.
2. Use Free WiFi hotspots in Hotels, Cafes and restaurants in Europe
If you are a budget traveler in Europe and you don’t need to be connected all the time, this option is the best for you. You can find WiFi Hotspots in Europe quite easily.
In large cities at hotels, cafes, airport a free wifi is generally available. But the other hand, the internet speed will be slow most of the time. Beware of data theft if the WiFi requires you to log in or enter your information.
3. Buy a European Prepaid Sim Card
Buying a prepaid SIM Card for Europe online is pretty easy nowadays. It is an affordable option to get data, calls and SMS in Europe.
We advise you to check with your provider before your trip if your phone is unlocked. Then you will be sure that it will work with European Sim cards from any carriers. Also, I highly recommend that you purchase the SIM card online.
Many European countries will not allow you to purchase a local SIM card if you don’t have an address in the country. Our tip to buy a Prepaid Data SIM card for Europe online.
4. Rent a Pocket WiFi for Europe
The Pocket WiFi is the best solution for travelers who need to have constant internet access throughout their trip. It is a device smaller than a smartphone that will provide a WiFi connection on the go to up to 10 People at the same time.
By using a Pocket WiFi, you can have internet in every country in Europe without worrying about data roaming.
How to save phone & wifi when travelling in europe
Planning a trip abroad and wondering how to stay online? Totally understandable, because just like in real life having a working data connection makes life so much easier. Therefore I wrote this article to help you staying connected on your trip overseas. In this guide I will explain you how a portable WiFi device works, how much it costs per day, how to get one, the pros and the cons and my recommendation.
Am I addicted to my phone? I alway deny that I am, but I admit I probably spend like 8 hours per day on my phone. Or may be even more, I don’t really want to know I guess! However, staying online is vital for me as with this travel blog and my social media accounts I document my journey to visit every country in the world. If a hotel, bar, restaurant or airport is having bad internet I am not amused! And therefore I don’t want to rely on other people and I recommend you either to buy a local sim card or get a pocket or portable WiFi device.
Why get WiFi or data when traveling?
Ubers are probably the easiest example to explain why having an internet connection while traveling is vital. Without being connected you can NOT order a taxi through an app, or what about getting directions from Google Maps, finding cool nearby bars or restaurants, etc. Yes disconnecting is the new luxury, I totally agree, but having an internet connection on the road makes life so much easier.
Finding your friends in a city with internet is going to be a challenge or long bus rides where they promise you free WiFi? It hardly ever woks or is super slow. I can come up with a ton of reasons why I always want to have internet while traveling internationally.
How to get internet when traveling
It is a question I get asked many times, probably because I seem to be online constantly. Internet while traveling is something that I really value and I cant go without anymore. That said in 2013 I spent 15 days in the mountains in Nepal and totally loved being offline, although it took me like 4 days to accept there was no phone signal! Anyway I always make sure that I have temporary internet access while traveling and there are a couple ways to make this happen:
- Buying a local sim card
- Renting/buying a portable WiFi device
- Getting an international sim card with global WiFi
Traveltomtom recommends buying a local sim card over renting or buying a portable WiFi device. Portable WiFi devices can be very handy when staying in a country for 1 or 2 days, but in general buying a local sim card is fast, easy AND cheap!
The first thing I do when I get to a new country is buying a local sim card. Over the years I learned that there is often not much difference in price, but the difference in network is sometimes huge. Therefore I started researching and eventually started writing guides for buying local sim cards. That is why on my blog you can find more than 150 local sim card guides from all over the world: USA, Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Israel, Jordan, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and every country and airport in Europe.
But fair enough switching sim cards can be a pain to be honest because you constantly changing phone numbers plus after a long flight it can be a hassle to get in line at the airport and get it done. That is when a portable WiFi device comes in handy as it does NOT require you to get a local sim card.
Traveltomtom does NOT recommend travel sim cards with global coverage. Most of these international sim cards are incredibly expensive and not worth it. Check out my article in where I compare and review all the international sim cards one by one and you will see that most of them are NOT worth it.
Temporary internet service without a contract
As I am a fan of local sim cards, I did never try a portable WiFi device, until someone gave me a TEP Wireless pocket Wifi to try it out. When looking for WiFi when traveling then this must be the best way I guess. Later I also tried the Vision Global pocket Wifi, the same thing, different brand. Let’s see. here is my honest review about these pocket WiFi devices for getting WiFi when traveling.
What does it exactly do? It is like a take-away router I would say. Everywhere you go the device finds a phone signal and and converts it into a WiFi signal locked with a unique password. You simply login to this WiFi signal available with your phone, laptop or tablet and you are online. The great thing about a pocket WiFi is that you can connect up to 5 devices at the same time!
How to use a portable WiFi device
A portable WiFi device is the easiest thing to use. Online you sign up through the website of the provider and either rent one or buy one. If you decide to rent a pocket WiFi it will be send to you before your trip. You then choose your plan, like for example 15 or 30 days and the amount of internet/data per day.
If you travel a lot just like me I would definitely advice you to buy a device yourself rather than renting one every time you go on a trip. The huge benefit of this is that you only pay when you connect, so if you are looking for temporary internet access without a contract a pocket Wifi is then a convenient travel item.
Where can you use portable WiFi devices?
Not everywhere, but quite close. Take a look at this map down below from TEP Wireless for example. It shows that you can get temporary internet access without a contract in most parts of the world. The Global Vision pocket Wifi coverage map looks more or less the same.
My experiences using a portable WiFi device
In the short time I owned a TEP Wireless portable WiFi device I have been benefiting a lot from it. On my sailing trip through the Raja Ampat islands in West Papua I was locked on a luxury yacht for 10 days. Finding a phone signal was already super hard, but once there was a signal at least I had my own WiFi device for my phone and my Macbook.
While living and working in Australia I used it a couple times when traveling over the weekends and also took it for a test to Europe. In Europe there is nowadays free roaming and a TEP Wireless portable WiFi device supports that. This shows that this definitely is the best way to get WiFi when traveling.
When country hopping for a very short time, a pocket WiFi is a great way to stay connected. When in a country for just 24 hours you don;t want to buy a local sim card. I |used the portable WiFi when I stayed for 2 days in Istanbul as well as for my 24 hours in Kuala Lumpur.
After that I started living the Australian dream living in Sydney on a working Holiday visa for a couple months so I stopped using it. However, in those months that I had a TEP Wireless pocket WiFi I actually quite like it, especially for short visits to a country.
However, I also realised these things are just not for me! Local sim cards will always do the job for me and they are getting cheaper and cheaper everywhere. Where you would pay 5 years ago about $10 for 1 GB data, there are now countries that you can already find UNLIMITED data for $10.
Buying a local sim card is easy, it literally takes just 5 minutes.
That said I the recent years I have never used a portable WiFi device anymore. Personally I think it is not something from this time anymore. I ALWAYS buy a local sim card, even if it is just for a couple days. Prepaid sim cards for tourists are mostly the BEST way to stay connected and they are cheap nowadays.
Best thing about a pocket WiFi
The main reasson why people want to get Wifi on the road instead of buying a local sim card is to NOT change phone numbers. AND I AGREE! That is for sure the number 1 advantage of a portable WiFi device over a local sim card. Changing phone number in every country can be a hassle and that is where a pocket WiFi is a winner!
Another big advantage of having a portable WiFi device is that you can connect up to 5 devices at the same time. So in case you are traveling with children I can definitely recommend using a portable WiFi device as they can all connect at the same time. Laptop, phone, tablet, no problem.
If you are looking for a temporary internet service without a contract then I can recommend to give TEP Wireless a try or see my review of Vision Global WiFi, a similar product.
Please if this article was helpful, consider giving back in the form of pinning one of the below Pins to Pinterest. I would highly appreciate it.