You could argue that travel is a chance to log off from the internet and immerse oneself in one’s surroundings. However, there are times when access to the web can be useful when travelling such as getting directions, translating text, booking attractions online or even doing work.
If you do plan on using the internet abroad, it could be important to plan out your internet usage. Accessing the internet abroad can result in hidden fees and security risks in some cases, so you need to be careful about how you connect. The following post lists a few important points that could be worth considering to help you to use the internet the right way.
Data roaming charges could dramatically increase your phone bill
Your phone network provider may charge you for using internet data while abroad. These fees are known as data roaming charges and they can be expensive depending on your provider, the country you visit and the type of internet activity that you partake in.
There may be resources that you can use online to check roaming charges in certain countries with your carrier. It’s worth noting that some phone plans allow you to use your data abroad with very few fees incurring.
Buying a local SIM could help to reduce these charges
By using a local SIM, you can make sure that you’re paying the same fees as locals to use the internet on your phone. This is likely to be a lot less than your current provider.
Buying a local SIM may not always be worthwhile if you’re only going abroad for a short period, but it could be very useful if you’re staying in another country for a long period. Just make sure that your device is compatible with local carriers first. Buy a SIM from a trusted mobile phone store if you can.
Some hotels will charge a lot for Wi-Fi
Logging onto Wi-Fi can prevent you from having to use your data, saving you from having to pay data roaming costs. However, not everyone offers free Wi-Fi. Some hotels and hostels charge a daily or even hourly fee for using the internet. If you’re using the internet every day, this can add up.
Before booking a hotel, it’s always worth double checking that it has free Wi-Fi if you plan to use the internet while you’re there. There are also sites that can allow you to test the internet strength of hotels to make sure they’re strong enough (if you’re staying in a hotel and you need to be able to work there, this could be important).
Public free Wi-Fi is worth researching into
Many countries now have free public Wi-Fi zones. This allows you to gain internet access without paying data roaming fees and without paying Wi-Fi fees.
In Europe, you can find free Wi-Fi in many capital cities such as Brussels, London, Helsinki, Lisbon and Riga. Lithuania meanwhile is known for having the fastest free public wi-fi in the world, sporting download speeds of 15.4 Mbps. Other cities around the world such as Singapore, Tel Aviv, New York, Perth and Seoul also have free Wi-Fi.
It’s worth taking advantage of free Wi-Fi in countries that offer it. Just be wary that in some countries free Wi-Fi may not be particularly secure (such as Bulgaria) or may have heavy content restrictions (such as Saudi Arabia).
A portable router or mobile hotspot could give you constant internet on the go
If you want to guarantee a secure internet wherever you go, one option could be to invest in a portable router or mobile hotspot. This can be particularly useful when exploring more rural areas of countries where public Wi-Fi or even mobile data may not reach.
Wireless travel routers are a simple gadget that you can take with you to keep you connected. These can be paid for monthly or you can opt for a pay-as-you-go service.
You can also connect devices via a mobile hotspot on your phone. If you plan to do this, it’s worth checking out your mobile provider plan, as some plans are better than others (this solution does require you to use your data).
You may not be able to stream your favourite shows abroad
Nowadays, you can access streaming services like Netflix and Hulu on all your favourite devices. This may seem like a convenient solution for catching up on your favourite TV shows while travelling, however you could find that certain content is not accessible in certain countries.
Downloading movies and TV shows before you go so that you can stream them offline is recommended. You’ll even be able to watch shows on the plane by doing this (although there are other ways of accessing the internet on a plane too).
A VPN will help to protect your data – and could have other perks
A VPN (virtual private network) is worth using on all your devices when you travel. It can keep your connection secure against hackers, which can be useful when using public Wi-Fi. However, this is not the only perk – using a VPN, you may also be able to get around content restrictions in certain countries, watching your favourite Netflix shows without having to download them first.
Look into VPNs available for your device such as a VPN for iPhone. Fees for VPNs can vary a lot, so it’s worth taking the time to compare different VPN providers.
It’s always worth downloading PDFs of important documents
There could be times while you’re travelling when it’s difficult to access an internet connection of any kind. Nowadays, many important travel documents like hotel booking confirmation, airline tickets and Covid passports are viewed online – if you don’t have a good connection, you may find that you’re unable to open these documents when you need them.
To get around this, consider downloading PDFs of these documents onto your phone so that you can view them offline. These can usually be saved into an app such as your Books, or even saved to your homescreen if you need to access them regularly.