Whether traveling for fun or for work, staying connected while overseas is important. Fortunately, there are now lots of options for accessing the internet and making calls away from your home country. Here is a look at the best ways in which you can get online and stay connected while traveling in Europe, including some advantages and disadvantages of each one.
Buy a travel eSIM
Nowadays, travelers with compatible phones can purchase an eSIM (short for embedded SIM) card for travel. Rather than a physical card, an eSIM works through scanning a QR code. You can purchase a data plan and once you have activated the eSIM, you will be able to access the data through a local network. One of the advantages of eSIMs for travelers is that they are available for multiple countries and regions. For example, you can buy an Italy SIM card or one that can be used across Europe.
As well as accessing the internet, you can make and receive voice calls through WhatsApp and Skype via the eSIM. In addition, there is no actual card to worry about losing or damaging and the eSIM is available immediately after purchase. Overall, travel eSIMs offer a flexible and convenient way to access the internet when in Europe for those with a compatible phone.
Purchase a traditional travel SIM
Traditional SIM cards remain available for travelers heading to Europe. These are plastic cards that you insert into a slot in your phone and which allow you to make and receive calls and texts and to access the internet via mobile data. If you have a dual SIM phone, you can use the travel SIM alongside the SIM you use at home. However, if you only have one SIM slot, you will need to remove your everyday SIM card. Depending on the plan you choose, you can access data and make/send calls and texts. You will get a different phone number, with a local area code.
The disadvantages include that SIM cards are not available everywhere and some can only be used in one country. You also need to have an unlocked phone. If you have a compatible device, a further option is to combine a traditional SIM with an eSIM to enjoy data plus calls and texts.
Ask your provider about an international add-on plan
One of the pitfalls of using your mobile phone abroad is that you might incur roaming charges. These charges are imposed by your network provider if you use your phone outside your home area, and they can be very high. You can avoid these charges by arranging an international add-on plan. The options will vary by network but add-on plans usually give you a set amount of data, plus calls and texts, which you can use while traveling overseas. The advantage of this is that you know upfront what staying connected will cost. If you start to run out of data while you are away, you should receive an alert, so you can buy more if you need to without roaming charges.
In addition to helping you budget, an international add-on plan is seamlessly activated on your phone. However, be aware that this may not be the cheapest option for staying connected and it might not be the best solution if you are traveling for an extended period.
Public Wi-Fi networks
You can find public Wi-Fi networks across Europe, in such locations as coffee shops, hotels, libraries and airports. These networks are free to access but coverage might not be great in all areas and if you plan to travel off the beaten track, there might be no access at all. While a convenient and budget-friendly option, the main issue to consider when using public Wi-Fi networks is online security. From inadvertently connecting to a malicious network to having your personal information stolen, accessing the internet this way can leave you vulnerable to cybercriminals.
There are steps you can take to keep your personal information protected while using a public network. These include using a virtual private network (or VPN), which provides an encrypted connection. It is also a good idea to turn off the “Wi-Fi auto-connect feature” on your phone to avoid malicious networks.
There are lots of ways to connect to the web and make calls while traveling in Europe. When choosing the right one for you, issues to think about include cost, reliability and security. The main question is why and how often you need to stay connected while you are away, from simply staying in touch with family and friends occasionally to working online all day.