Among all the things you have to pack for your next overseas getaway, the mighty mobile phone hardly gets a thought — and it could cost you, bigtime. There it is, lying in your pocket, your indispensable travel companion that will also keep you in touch with friends and family back home and let you find new places in a flash, but it could also be your financial downfall, with hefty European Union roaming charges.
It’s a sorry scenario that has befallen lots of British people since the UK left the EU, triggering most of the major British phone networks to scrap free roaming in EU countries. Now, if you’re not aware you’re clocking up tons of roaming charges, you could be hit with a bill in the thousands when you get back home.
UK mobile network Lebara carried out a survey on EU roaming charges earlier this year and found that nearly half of the 2,000 people quizzed had been landed with mobile bills around £1,000 after their holiday — mostly made up of data roaming fees. And you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re just a few pence, but using all those apps on your phone gobbles up a whole heap of data, potentially leading to massive charges.
Overseas Roaming: Heavy on the Social Media Feeds
You might think that once you’re abroad on holiday in Europe, the last thing you’d be paying attention to is what everyone back home is up to, with their endless goofy antics posted on social media — but you’d be wrong. At least according to the Lebara survey, carried out in August by OnePoll.
It discovered that 44% of those who took part were glued to social media apps during their EU time away, almost certainly posting their own overseas high jinks too; and the other big mobile data usage, at 42% of respondents, was for maps on phones. Why ask a foreigner who doesn’t speak your language where the nearest pub is when you can Google Maps it?
People polled said they also used music streaming services, like Spotify, while on holiday in European countries like Spain, Germany, France and Italy (28% of respondents) and mobile gaming was another big slice of the data roaming pie, with 20% saying that’s what they mostly did with their phones and data. A further 16% had other things on their mind — love, or a saucy foreign dalliance — and were hoping to hook up with someone using a mobile dating app for which they needed data roaming.
EU Data Roaming: Check Before You Go
It may seem obvious, but among the first things you should do before going abroad is to check the details of your mobile phone contract and see what’s included — and what’s not. Many of us don’t give our contracts a second thought after we get them, and that can land us in financial hot water when we’re overseas, as is continually happening to Brits in the EU.
If your phone contract doesn’t include free data roaming in EU countries, a good workaround is to get yourself a SIM-only deal from a provider like Lebara — no contract and all the data you will most likely use while on your holiday.
With the cost-of-living crunch biting hard as we head into winter, no one wants the shock and misery of being hit with an enormous mobile phone bill when they get back from their already expensive trip abroad. So bring along an extra SIM and it could be your new best friend, and give you peace of mind in these uncertain times as you enjoy your trip away.