Staying contactable while overseas, especially in a continent as vast and international as Europe, is important for travelers who are traveling with families, backpackers, to work pass holders alike. There are various ways to stay connected while traveling that can also help you avoid hefty international calling charges, so here are some of the best phone plans and tactics to save mobile plan costs that we found!
Getting a European SIM card
If you need the full package of phone data, calls, and texts, European SIM cards are highly available, situated at airports as well as travel hotspots so you can purchase them even as a last-minute decision!
The trickier part comes if you’re planning to travel across various countries in Europe, as SIM cards are region-locked to their destination of purchase. This means that you’ll have to start collecting SIM cards like they do Pokémon if you’re going on a tour across the continent.
Make sure your phone is unlocked before inserting the SIM card. To unlock it, newer phones are now able to manually allow you to do so while older ones might require you to make a phone call to your carrier. If you’re unable to do so and are in desperate need to make important calls and texts, look for basic affordable phones that come unlocked, or buy one that comes with a working SIM card in Europe. And if you happen to be heading to Finland, be sure to check out these phone subscriptions in Finland.
What to know before inserting a European SIM card
Most people insert new SIM cards to access calls and texting without double checking if they had made the necessary preparations and checks first. Here is what you should look out for before inserting the shiny new European SIM card in!
- Check if you bought the right SIM-card for your phone (Smartphones use Micro SIMs)
- Check if you have your contacts backed up onto your phone
- Know that by changing SIM cards, you will no longer be reachable by your old number but by your new European number, unless you have one of the latest phones which can maintain a dual SIM function
- Having a European SIM card means that only local calls and texts are free in most cases, especially if it’s a ‘pay as you go’ plan
If you need to be making international calls, you should check the provider’s rates beforehand. Do your internet research beforehand to compare prices and plans across various companies, or befriend other travelers and locals to ask them for their personal recommendations!
Tapping into public Wi-Fi
It is quite common for bars, restaurants, and streets in Europe to have free public Wi-Fi so you fans of the Internet can rejoice in relief. Not only can this take the pressure of using your limited mobile data off you, but you also get to finally surf the net in peace while enjoying a drink or two.
If you’re looking to make a call and own a smartphone, make sure that you have applications installed that enable free calls with an Internet connection. These apps include Whatsapp, Skype, and Viber, to name a few.
However, there are few who would opt out of tapping into free Wi-Fi services. With the high human traffic using these services at the same time as you, expect the network to be slower than you would like. Internet calls, especially video calls, tend to require a stable and strong internet connection as well, so these public Wi-Fi networks might not be the most reliable for you.
We recommend making important calls and downloading key information on your devices, such as Google Maps data, using the more reliable (and less crowded) Wi-Fi of your hotel before going out to explore.
Opt for data roaming
You can also opt for data roaming from your provider back at home, which means that you will get to keep your number and use your phone with fewer limitations while traveling. Charges for data roaming can either depend on where you are calling from or can be a flat rate depending on the provider. There are plans for all, even ones offering unlimited data roaming for those who know that they can’t control their internet surfing so they don’t get faced with a ‘shocking bill’ at the end of the month.
With most telecom providers digitalizing their services online, it should be easy to note down and compare the costs between different companies easily to pick the one that best suits your needs for the best cost. With digitalized companies, you can also easily make changes to your plans online with the click of a button.
If you’re still unsure, you can also approach the staff on-site or call their hotline services to have your inquiries answered so that you can be directed to the plan that best benefits you before your travel.
Getting a Travel SIM card
Travel SIM cards are also known as “International SIM cards”. These cards differ from the other options we have talked about such as data roaming from your home provider and local European SIM cards, as Travel SIM cards aren’t tied to a specific country or region-locked, but allow you to use your phone from all around the world.
Companies that are well equipped to cater to the specific needs of travelers provide Travel SIM cards, so look for the ones which work by European zones. They can come as prepaid SIM cards or pay as you go plans, can be for usage in a specific country or can cover a wide range of countries, helping you shave off extra roaming costs.
So if you’re looking to avoid the troublesome labor of hunting for shops that sell SIM cards wherever you land next, you can even purchase the SIM cards that work in the regions you are traveling to beforehand!
There is a plan for every type of traveler, and phones have become such an indispensable part of our lives that finding the perfect cost-effective plan can really make a big difference in your experience. From the Instagram story journalist to the businessman, we hope this list helps you find your perfect match!