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