Now the UK has left the EU, travelling with your phone has become a little more complicated, and expensive.
If you’re planning a trip now the world has opened up again, you’re not alone. Thousands of people across the country are eagerly planning flights, train tickets and itineraries ready for the big getaway.
But what’s the current data roaming situation? Can you still roam for free in the EU? We’ve teamed up with Broadband.co.uk to answer these questions.
What is the current data roaming situation?
Worldwide roaming outside the EU is the same as it has always been. Usually, that means a daily charge to use your phone abroad, preferably arranged in advance with your provider.
It’s European roaming that has changed.
When the UK was part of the EU, providers were not allowed to charge for roaming within Europe. That’s no longer true.
Since January 2021, phone companies have been allowed to reinstate roaming charges and all but two have.
Does my provider still offer free data roaming?
Vodafone has a free roaming deal for customers who joined before 11th August 2021 or have premium phone plans. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay.
Will data roaming be made free again?
It is unlikely that data roaming will ever be free again. It’s too much of a revenue generator for carriers, so don’t expect to see free roaming in the foreseeable future.
Other carriers may do what Vodafone has done and make roaming part of a premium package or traveller package, but it won’t be free.
How much does data roaming cost in Europe?
Each carrier manages roaming in a slightly different way.
EE currently charges £2 per day to roam within the EU.
O2 still offer free roaming within the EU but we don’t know how long that will last.
Three will charge £2 per day from May 2022 for EU data roaming.
Vodafone charges £2 per day for European data roaming unless you were a customer before 11th August 2021 or have a premium plan.
Are there ways to reduce data usage while abroad?
There are a few simple ways to avoid data usage while travelling.
Disable data on your mobile
Disabling mobile data and only switching it on when it’s needed is a simple way to reduce data usage. It makes you much more conscious of how you use your phone and lets you control when you use data.
You can even automate this process by setting your phone to enable data occasionally so that apps can sync. Many phones now have built-in automation functions to allow this.
Avoid data-intensive apps
Social networks, YouTube and anywhere with autoplay video are data-intensive. Avoid them wherever possible or use public WiFi.
Use public WiFi
Use WiFi in your accommodation, airport, train station or coffee shop. Protect your phone with a VPN and do all your downloading for free while you enjoy a coffee.
Download files before you leave home
Download any books, movies, music or Google Maps you’re likely to need on your trip. This could save a lot of data if you plan it right!
Most UK phone contracts have a usage cap built-in to protect from bill shock. Providers got a lot of bad press for excessive charging, so usage caps were the result. Check they are active before you leave.
Purchase a local SIM
If you’re away for a while or a regular traveller, it may be worthwhile using a European SIM card. As long as your phone is unlocked and you’ll get value out of it, it can be a sensible investment.
Just shop around first to make sure you get the best deal!