Side Street Style: How to stay connected while travelling

Side Street Style

Family travel and lifestyle blog

27/06/2021

How to stay connected while travelling


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Staying connected while travelling around, whether that’s in the UK or further afield, has never been more important. Just because we’re away from home, it doesn’t mean we want to switch off entirely and we may need our mobiles on hand to keep in touch with those back home.


Roaming with our mobiles has become easier over the years, with networks now forced to make their roaming policies clear and stick to certain rules. So, let’s take a look at the roaming rules while travelling in certain locations and what you need to be aware of before you set off.

UK

Travelling in the UK if you’re with a UK mobile network should be relatively straightforward. Whichever of the four nations you’re in, you’re fine to use your mobile as you would in your own garden.

However, if you’re going to be spending a lot of time in remote areas, it’s worth checking whether your network has good reception around there. If not – and if your handset is unlocked as many are these days – it might be worth buying a pay as you go (PAYG) SIM card from another network to ensure you can keep in touch.

 
London bridge


Europe


So far, Brexit hasn’t made mobile roaming more complicated and all four major mobile networks (O2, EE, Vodafone and Three) have kept their European roaming policies the same.

This means customers can use their mobiles while in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway without worrying about paying more than at home. It’s worth noting that mobile networks could change their minds about this arrangement, but it’s likely to be headline news if they do, so the best thing to do is just check before travelling.

Of course, Europe is far more than just the EU, so customers travelling to destinations outside the Union (or straying close to its edges) will want to see if those destinations are covered in their network’s inclusive roaming plans – or whether there is a roaming add-on that includes them.

All four major mobile networks (plus some smaller ones) have roaming plans. Perhaps the most well-known is Three’s Go Roam which covers 71 destinations.

Vodafone cover up to 81 destinations, EE has a roaming plan covering up to 53 destinations, while O2 customers can access up to 75 destinations on some plans. However, it’s important to check which destinations are available to which customers - PAYG mobile customers don’t always get the same perks, for example, or roaming may be a paid extra.


Phone europe



USA


Travelling to the USA as a customer of one of the major mobile networks can mean that roaming is included - but it depends on the plan you’re on. As an example, Vodafone customers on their Unlimited Max plans get inclusive USA roaming, but basic pay monthly mobile customers don’t. At the time of writing, the USA is included in Three’s Go Roam, EE’s Roam Further pass and the O2 Roaming Bolt-On.


South Africa

South Africa is a country rarely included in UK mobile roaming plans. The exception is roaming as a Vodafone Unlimited Max customer, but that’s their most expensive plan and may not be right for everyone.

It’s still possible to use your UK mobile in South Africa, but extra charges will be added to your bill. For example, an EE customer will pay £1.88 per minute to make a call while Three mobile customers will pay £1.40.

There are better options for travellers to South Africa as long as your phone is unlocked – a local PAYG SIM (either bought on arrival or a prepaid one) or a prepaid global SIM card. As the name suggests, a global SIM card can be used in multiple countries, so for frequent travellers, it’ll be worth the extra costs.


Cape Town



Australia

Australia is a Go Roam destination with Three, and it’s included in EE’s Roam Further, the extra O2 Roaming Bolt-On and also available to Vodafone Unlimited Max customers. Beyond that, travellers can also get local SIMs and global SIMs that work in Australia and will work with unlocked phones.


Final thoughts

Travelling and getting online on our mobiles is a lot easier than it used to be, but we still need to remain vigilant about potential charges and changes in policies. The UK Government has legislated to ensure customers roaming abroad will find their extra bills capped at £45 per month, although this feature may be disabled if a customer buys a roaming bolt-on.


Our three top tips before travelling:


1. Check if the destination is included in your network’s roaming or a network that does include it
If it isn’t, consider a local SIM or a global SIM rather than international rates (you’ll need an unlocked phone)

2. Switch off any settings that may use data in the background

3. Finally, enjoy the freedom that 21st-century mobile roaming can bring!


Travelling


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