Getting Online on the Road in Europe

I run an online business. 95% of the work I do requires an Internet connection for me to work. I need to work to support myself while I travel which means that having both electricity, and a constant Internet connection are my top priorities.

Even just one year ago, it was more difficult to get online abroad because if you used your UK based data plan, you were charged roaming fees. This meant that every text, phone call and megabyte of data cost you a lot more than the normal charge.

However, last summer roaming charges across the whole of the EU were scrapped! This is fantastic news for me. Brexit might drastically change things but for now at least, I can simply take my UK mobile & Internet plan to any EU country and use it as normal at no extra charge.

Personal Hotspots

Okay so how do you actually get online? Here in the UK, when you are out and about you typically have 2 options:

  1. Use the data on your phone, you can do this anywhere but of course your data is limited to what you have purchased for your monthly plan.
  2. Connect to a wifi ‘hotspot’. You’ll find these in many public places such as libraries, airports, food establishments etc. Often you’ll need to give an email address to sign into the network and then you can use the wifi for free.

There are many places where you can connect to a free wifi hotspot. (Image from Flickr)

When traveling in Europe, I’ll still be able to use public wifi hotspots just like I can here. But of course these are always in busy public places. As I am not a fan of big cities and plan to spend a lot of time in quiet rural areas, I’m not going to be finding many of these.

So my other option is to use my phone, but how do I connect my laptop or my tablet to the Internet? Again, there are two options:

  1. Buy a dedicated mobile hotspot device. This is a small box, that you take with you and anywhere you have a phone signal, it can turn it into wifi. Then you can connect any other wifi device to it.
  2. Turn your phone into a mobile hotspot. Most modern phones, including mine (Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge) now has this ability. It basically does exactly the same thing as the physical device. As long as you have cell service on your phone, it can broadcast as a personal hotspot which you can connect your other devices to.

Turn this device on, and connect other wifi devices to it.

So I looked into the pricing and it’s incredibly cheap. Vodafone (my current provider) do a 50Gb mobile device plan for just £30 a month. But of course, if I can do the same thing on my phone wouldn’t that be less hassle? I checked the prices for upgrading my current plan and I was in luck as they currently have a special offer on and give the same 50Gb of data for also £30 a month!

But also, because it’s a phone plan it includes unlimited texts and minutes as well, and calls to the UK are free! So I can literally phone friends and family back home from the EU at no cost! And on top of that you get a 12 month subscription to an entertainment package of your choice – I’ll pick Now TV. Though I probably won’t make much use of it as it would eat up too much of my precious 50Gb of monthly data.

Europe Travel Restrictions

I first looked into the Internet connectivity issue when I first came up with the idea of traveling. I knew that if I couldn’t get online affordably then the idea would not work. However, back then all companies I looked at, including Vodafone, had a restriction on the EU roaming.

At the time I believe the restriction was that you could only use the data in Europe for a maximum of 30 days out of any 60 day period. My solution to that was simply to take out a plan with two companies and alternate them.

However, when I spoke to vodafone today they informed me that all such restrictions had been abolished! So I would only need to take out a second plan if I found that 50Gb of data was not enough. Cool huh?

 

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