Getting Online for Less when Travelling Abroad

Passport and visa – check. Foreign currency and travel insurance – check. Internet connection abroad – silence. Most people booking a vacation won’t view getting online abroad as a high priority, although some may give a cursory glance as to whether free Wi-Fi is part of their hotel’s services.

Lack of adequate or inexpensive internet connection can be frustrating for those who need to get online frequently while abroad. There are some low cost options available, and your mobile phone provider should be your first port of call.

Mobile phone options

Yes, we all know that using a mobile phone abroad can come with exorbitant fees, whether making calls or checking emails, but not always. Some networks have made the move towards eliminating charges for data use abroad, which is great if use your phone as Wi-Fi hotspot to browse the internet on your laptop; tethering your mobile and laptop is an option available through certain network providers. Some networks have ditched roaming charges in a number of countries, making it much easier to make calls back home and get online abroad with no additional fees. You could already be included in free roaming abroad; depending on your contract or this extra can be set up for a specified period of time for a one-off fee.

Buy a SIM abroad

maintain blog during travel

Buying a data SIM when abroad can be cost-effective, and will allow you to hook up your smartphone to your laptop to get online, update your blog and check emails wherever you are, and whenever you want. Rates will usually be equivalent to the cost from your local provider, although pay as you go deals may be the only option; they also mean you don’t have to be tied down to a long contract. The price will depend on how many gigabytes you intend to get through, but three or five GB will usually be enough for a month’s worth of browsing. Pay as you go mobile broadband dongle’s are also available abroad and again this is an inexpensive option to get your laptop online compared to those costly roaming charges.

Research your hotel facilities

Hotels will often claim that internet connection is part of your room services, and then on arrival you’ll find that Wi-Fi isn’t free and you’ll need to pay an expensive daily surcharge. Your hotel may also claim that they do offer free internet but don’t take this at face value; many travelers have been caught out with these offers, and get hit with charges on their credit cards once they’ve checked out. Always check the reviews given on travel websites by other guests who have stayed at your intended hotel. Remember that some hotels may say ‘internet connection’, when they actually mean a computer located in the reception area complete with a usage charge.

If you’re heading to a big city area you should have no problem finding free Wi-Fi in bars, cafes and even public areas; for instance there are over 400 free hotspots throughout Paris, including public parks. If you want to stay connected then undertake some research before heading off, to ensure you don’t wrack-up unnecessary and extremely costly connection charges.

Image by 
MIKI Yoshihito (´ω) used under the Creative Commons license.



  1. These are really good tips. I feel one of the least discussed issue of travel is mobile communication. Many people assume they need to buy a phone from each country, but that is not the case. If you already have a good phone, an international SIM card will save you money.


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