Personal Finance

5 Top Tips to Access the Internet on Holiday

Going on holiday? Read our top tips for accessing the Internet while you're in the airport or abroad. Find out what to look out for to avoid unexpected charges or getting spammed after signing up for a free airport WiFi hotspot.

To access the Internet when you're abroad you can either use your phone's data package or WiFi. Depending on your mobile plan and factors like how you'll use the Internet, one method may be better for your situation.

1. Contact your mobile service provider before you leave home to find out what roaming charges you'll need to pay if you use your phone's data package to access the Internet. For example, you may need to pay £5 a day for "roam like at home" when you use your phone in some countries. Also, ask your provider if your data allowance is capped below what you'd get at home (which can happen as a result of "fair usage").

2. Turn off cellular data on days you don't need the Internet. If your plan charges for roaming whilst abroad then turn off cellular data on your phone each night before you go to sleep. That way you won't be charged for roaming the next day (unless of course you need it and turn data back on). Instead you should only be charged on days you actually use the Internet.

3. Don't use free WiFi hotspots for anything personal such as emails or any sites that require you to enter a password. Free WiFi hotspots are not usually encrypted so any hacker can view the data you send or receive, such as emails or passwords. If you just need the Internet for casual browsing such as looking up restaurants in Barcelona, then a free hotspot might work for you.

4. If you do use a free WiFi hotspot, don't register with your regular email. Free WiFi providers are likely to sell your contact details to third party marketers, which can result in being bombarded by spam emails in the future. Create a new email address just for this purpose so you aren't bothered by any marketing emails that come your way.

5. To access the Internet on your laptop or tablet you can either use a public WiFi or your phone's data. If you have sensitive work to do (such as emails or sending passwords) then using the mobile hotspot on your phone is probably safer—do this by turning on "Personal hotspot" under "Settings". Toggle "personal hotspot" to the "on" position then exit Settings and click the Internet access icon which is usually on the bottom right of your laptop's window. It may take a few seconds for your phone to appear in the list of options, but once it does click it to connect. If it doesn't appear, exit the Internet access list and try again.

Tethering to a hotspot on an Android is a bit different. To connect on a Moto Z4, go to Settings > Network & internet > Hotspot & tethering. On a Samsung go to Connections > Mobile Hotspot and Tethering > Mobile Hotspot where you can toggle the mobile hotspot on. Or, even simpler, pull down and tap the Mobile Hotspot icon that appears.

If you use your phone's mobile hotspot to access the Internet just remember that this uses your phone's data allowance.

Mobile Usage in the EU

If your holiday is in the EU 28, all networks let you use your monthly allowance as you would in the UK. Here is the list of EU 28 countries:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • UK

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