Using a Smart Phone in Ireland

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Using a Smart Phone in Ireland. Ireland travel tips.

If you're anything like me, your smart phone is your main mode of communication, the camera you use most often, and your entertainment center. So when you travel you want to use it just like you do at home.

There's only one problem – the cost.

It's not cheap to use your smart phone in Ireland – but with the proper planning you won't be surprised with a nasty sticker shock on your next bill.

Sheeps Head Lighthouse, County Cork. Ireland vacation. Tips for your Ireland family vacation.
Sheep's Head Lighthouse. Snapped with my smart phone & shared to Instagram shortly after.

Tips for Using Your Smart Phone in Ireland

Roaming and data charges in Ireland can break your budget if you're not careful. These tips will keep you connected affordably.

  1. Contact your cellular provider and inquire about using your phone in Ireland. Confirm that your device is compatible with GSM (Global System for Mobile) used in Europe, and then inquire about an International plan which includes both talk minutes and data. My carrier, Verizon, offers plans beginning at $25/ month with reduced prices for calls & text with 100MB data.
  2. Purchase a local SIM card. This only works if you have an ‘unlocked' phone (most US phones aren't). You can pick up a SIM card at the SPAR in Dublin airport, or at any Tesco, Three, eirMobile, or Vodafone retailers.
  3. Buy a cheap prepaid phone when you arrive. It's just handy to have a phone – you may need to make quick calls to B&Bs to for directions or to make reservatios for a tour or dinner you just found out about. If you don't need a smart phone, you can pick up a disposable prepaid phone for under $20 at Tesco locations throughout Ireland. This is often less expensive than renting a cell phone.
  4.  Rent a mobile wifi unit. Most car rental companies now offer the option of adding a mobile wifi unit to your rental. Their rates, however, are high. For mobile wifi in Ireland I recommend TravelWifi.ie. Their prices are affordable and data is unlimited for the duration of your rental. Tip: keep a charging cord in the car or mobile charger with you to keep the unit charged.
  5. Use free wifi and connect with Skype, Facetime, or Google Voice. You'll find free wifi all over Ireland – in your B&B or hotel, many restaurants, and even stores offer connectivity. Keep your wifi turned on and set to notify you when it is available.

I, personally, use the combination of an international plan with my cellular provider,a mobile wifi unit, and free wifi.

Tips for Making the Data Last

Using data on your smart phone?

  1. Decide what apps you really need- and then turn off or remove all the others.
  2. Turn off instant notifications and app syncing.
  3. Turn off the data and use your phone in airplane mode. Only turn off airplane mode to make calls and turn on data when needed.
  4. Sync email, check Facebook and reply to Twitter over a wi-fi network.
  5. Use a data usage counter like My Data Manager (available from iTunes or the Play Store) to monitor your usage. 
  6. Don't forget: if you go over your data limit, you are charged at the rates in the contract (so watch those numbers!)

Do you use a phone in Ireland?  What's your strategy?  Please share your tips in the comments!

 

9 COMMENTS

  1. […] Sure, it only costs a few dollars per day to rent a sat nav (GPS) with your rental car in Ireland.  And it is well worth the cost if you’ll be visiting new locations or trying to find your way through a maze of city streets in Dublin, Galway, Cork or Limerick. Another option is to use the navigation feature on your phone, but be sure you have an international calling plan or mobile wifi!  […]

    On my trip to Ireland two years ago, my aunt (with whom I was traveling) bought an international calling card to use with the phone in her hotel room… worked great, lots cheaper than paying for cell calls…

      I did that during my first trip to Ireland… but with no phones in rooms in B&Bs it was problematic to find phone booths to use. Cellular calls aren’t that expensive anymore with international plans… I think they work out about the same now. And, of course, Skype and Facetime are free. 🙂

    When I went to Ireland in September, I turned my data off and used Wi-Fi, Skype and a Wi-Fi texting app to connect with friends and family in Canada. It cost me nothing extra. When using my phone as a camera, I set it to upload photos to cloud storage while on Wi-Fi only so they would save but not break the bank. On the rare occasion there was no Wi-Fi I was so busy admiring the country I didn’t even notice lol.

    […] if you aren’t constantly on the road. And while your local cell phone provider likely has an international data plan, it can run to hundreds of dollars if you use it too much. So we are thrilled to offer a new way to […]

    […] maps, accurate GPS, image gallery and a list of the nearest 25 attractions to you wherever you are (if you have connectivity, of […]

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