How to Get Mobile Broadband Access on Holiday (Part 1)

It’s getting easier to use mobile broadband when you’re abroad, but costs can vary significantly. What are the main options open to you when you travel?

3g mobile broadband modemBefore mobile broadband came along, accessing the internet when you were on holiday was rarely easy and often frustrating.

Say you’d gone to rural France for a few weeks. Whenever you needed to check your email, you needed to hunt down an internet cafe in a nearby town, hand over a Euro or two and log on using one of the shop’s desktop PCs.

That was all well and good, until you remembered that French keyboards have a completely different layout, making your attempts to write ‘Having a lovely holiday, wish you were here’ read something like ‘Hqving q lovely holidqy zish you zere here’.

The time you spent trying to get your emails intelligible meant you could easily spend hours and unnecessary extra Euros in the attempt.

These days, with much more widespread broadband access and many more ways to access it, it’s much easier to get online while you’re taking your annual break – and you don’t have to contend with unfamiliar keyboard layouts.

We take a quick look at the holiday broadband choices open to you – and we’ll be back soon with a new feature that examines each option in more detail.

Option 1. Use your current mobile tariff

If you have a smartphone or tablet computer, you’ll already be able to access 3G mobile broadband using your device.

You can do the same when you travel to many countries – but beware. Simply using your current mobile tariff can land you with a huge bill when you return home to the UK.

Although legislation has forced operators to reduce their mobile broadband data costs in Europe, it doesn’t mean they’re not expensive.

So while it’s reassuring to know you can access the web at almost any time when you travel, you’ll save money if you don’t your UK tariff as your main way of getting online.

Option 2. Get a bolt-on service

Some phone companies offer mobile broadband services that reduce the amount you spend while using data services in Europe.

For example, O2’s normal data tariff in Europe can see you being charged over £3 per megabyte of usage (and £6 elsewhere in the world). However, with its Web Daily Europe Service, you only have to pay £1.50 per day for up to 15 megabytes of data used while in European countries.

Other deals for using mobile broadband abroad include Vodafone Data Traveller, which can work out at as low as £10 per month for frequent travellers.

Option 3. Use as much Wi-Fi as you can

Smartphones, tablet computers and modern laptops are almost always Wi-Fi enabled, meaning they give you a cheap and easy way to get online while you are abroad.

Depending on which country you’re visiting, you may be able to find internet cafes that now offer Wi-Fi access as well as their own connected PCs.

Charges for Wi-Fi access are normally low, but you can increasingly avoid them altogether. These days growing numbers of coffee shops, restaurants, bars and similar places offer free Wi-Fi access to their customers – meaning you can catch up on your email and browsing while you take a break.

Option 4. Use a mobile broadband dongle

If you want to take a laptop with you when you go on holiday, and you’re unlikely to have much Wi-Fi access, you’ll need to look at another popular method of getting online – the mobile broadband dongle.

A mobile broadband dongle has the advantage of giving you widespread mobile broadband access, meaning you can use your laptop to keep on top of things – while remaining connected.

However, tariffs can vary significantly and you’ll need to do your research into the best deals before you travel. In the meantime, you can get to grips with how mobile broadband dongles work by taking a look at Vodafone‘s dongle plans.

In our next articles, we’ll be taking a closer look at the pros and cons of each of these methods of mobile broadband access – and helping you find the best deals for each.

But until then, be sure to check your chosen method of broadband access won’t land you with a big bill when you get back home!

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