Staying Connected: The best phone plans for travellers

by Iain Farrell

You probably fit into one of two types. You either completely go off the grid, forgetting you even own a phone when immersing yourself in your travels, or you can’t help making sure you post a story on Snapchat with the geofilter for the latest city you are in as soon as possible!

No matter which category you fall into, being able to use texts, minutes and data when abroad is hugely important for navigation, staying in contact with loved ones who are worrying about you and remaining connected with all the latest news that may impact your plans.

In an age where phones can do more and more every day, there are now a few fantastic options for using your mobile phone abroad to help you travel safely without spending a bomb. Whether you are interested in what your network provider can offer you or looking to change companies, here’s a list of all the ways you can text, tweet, or catch Pokemon abroad with a UK plan:

  1. 3 now run a ‘Feel At Home’ scheme on all contracts. Providing you still have minutes, texts and data, you use your phone exactly as you would in the UK with no added roaming charges. It gets even better, as ‘Feel At Home’ can currently be used in 42 destinations spanning throughout and outside Europe, extending to Australia and the USA. 
  2. ‘Home From Home’ was a very similar idea launched by Tesco Mobile over the summer, where contract holders experienced no data roaming charges on their holidays. Although this plan ended on 4th September 2016, it might be worth keeping an eye out in case this hugely popular idea is brought back more permanently. 
  3. Although these are the only two plans where you would incur absolutely no additional charges for using your phone abroad compared to in the UK, O2 offer a very cheap alternative. 
Once you have signed up for ‘O2 Travel’ you pay a single fixed daily rate to be able to use all the data you need, 120 minutes, and 120 texts from midnight to midnight on a chosen day. The price can be as little as £1.99 in Europe, but slightly more outside (for example, £4.99 per day in the USA). 
  4. Vodafone’s ‘EuroTraveller’ offers a comparable service, but with a charge of £3 a day. 
  5. If you’re sticking to Europe, you can purchase a ‘Euro Data Pass’ from EE. There are a few different options to consider within this plan, with a price per day of £4 for unlimited minutes and texts and 500MB data, or £3 for just 500MB data. Additionally, a tiny 150MB of data can be bought for just £1.

For all of the latest foreign travel information, head to the FCO's Travel Advice website. Follow the FCO on Twitter @FCOtravel, watch their videos on YouTube and add them on Facebook to get instant access on all of the latest travel updates.

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