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Roaming charges

An unwelcome present home.

Picture the scene. You’ve recently returned home from the best gap year you could have imagined. A letter – addressed to you – comes in the post shortly after. You open it to find a colossal mobile phone bill. The cause: data roaming.

Data roaming is the term used when you use another mobile network to access the internet on your phone abroad. Your network does not cover roaming meaning they will pass the costs – usually large – on to you.

In 2010, the European Union capped the amount networks can charge for data roaming within its borders at €50 a month. Although this is good news, the cap only applies to countries inside the EU. Considering that the majority of travellers go outside the EU all over the world – for months on end, the fees start adding up.

Gap year travellers should switch off the data roaming option on their phone and ask their network to turn off the voicemail and data functions while on their travels.

"Data roaming charges are pretty much the fastest way to burn through a carefully calculated gap-year budget. If you travel outside the reach of the EU’s consumer protection regulations, costs per megabyte can be eyewatering and you could burn a few megabytes just finding your hotel on a maps app," says technology journalist Donald Strachan.

Strachan says travellers should consider other options while abroad.

"I always travel with an unlocked phone: when you reach your destination, buy a local SIM card, slot it in, and you’re paying local rates for your calls, texts, and web browsing."

Of all the UK networks, only O2 have a data roaming cap in place. The network stops charging customers when their usage reaches £40 and then cuts them off if they go beyond 50 megabytes.

You can also purchase a pre-paid SIM card from www.simcardglobal.com











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