If you're anything like me, your mobile 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 always cheap to use your mobile phone in Ireland – but with the proper planning you won't be surprised with a nasty sticker shock on your next bill.
Tips for Using Your Mobile 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.
- Turn your data off when in Ireland! Or keep your phone in airplane mode. Every little ‘ping' counts against your data plan- and will result in a higher-than-expected bill when you return home.
- Contact your cellular provider and inquire about using your mobile 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. Some providers also have a ‘use it like you do at home' option for an additional cost per day. (More on this below.)
- Purchase a local SIM card. This only works if you have an ‘unlocked' phone (many US phones aren't- ask your service provider if yours is unlocked or can be). You can pick up a SIM card at the SPAR in Dublin airport, or at any Tesco, Three, eirMobile, or Vodafone retailers.
- 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.
- 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 Wifi Candy. Their prices are affordable and data is unlimited for the duration of your rental. Tip: WifiCandy also offers power kit rentals so you can keep your wifi device, phones, and other small electronics charged when you're on the go!
- 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 mobile phone?
- Decide what apps you really need- and then turn off or remove all the others.
- Turn off instant notifications and app syncing.
- Turn off the data or use your phone in airplane mode. Only turn off airplane mode to make calls and turn on data when needed.
- Sync email, check Facebook and reply to Twitter over a wi-fi network.
- Use a data usage counter like My Data Manager (available from iTunes or the Play Store) to monitor your usage.
- Don't forget: if you go over your data limit, you are charged at the rates in the contract (so watch those numbers!)
My Thoughts on Mobile Phone ‘Use It Like You Do at Home' Plans
There is no doubt that being able to use your mobile phone in Ireland like you do at home is incredibly handy! But is it the best option for you?
My carrier, Verizon, offers this option for $10 per day. If you are in Ireland for 8 days, that is $80, if you use the phone daily. Charges only accrue when you use your phone.
But, that deal is only for your phone.
If everyone in your group has a phone the $10 per day per person adds up quickly!
For approximately the same cost you can rent a personal wifi unit from Wifi Candy and connect 10 devices to it- phones, tablets, laptops, even cameras!
Do you have a different strategy for using your mobile phone in Ireland? Please share your tips in the comments!