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Take a break without the 'Roam Rage' - Uswitch offers advice for Jubilee jetsetters to prevent unexpected mobile bills

Brits planning a bonus break during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations are urged to check their mobile phone contract to make sure they’re not landed with extra charges for using their device overseas.  

Bank holidays held next Thursday and Friday to mark the Queen’s 70 years on the throne mean that millions of savvy workers are expected to fly out this weekend - so they can enjoy nine days off for the cost of only three days’ leave.  

Tomorrow, VOXI reintroduces roaming charges for its customers travelling to the EU, the latest UK mobile provider to have brought them back this year. Roaming charges from Three also came into effect earlier this week, affecting millions of their customers. 

With roaming rules, plans and costs around using your calls, minutes and data abroad differing across networks, it is a confusing time to travel abroad with your phone 

To avoid any nasty surprise fees, Catherine Hiley, mobiles expert at has some tips to help you put your mind at ease and enjoy your holiday.

  1. Map out the costs: If your provider has returned to roaming, like EE, Vodafone and Three have, be sure you look up the charges to use your mobile package in the country you are visiting. If it’s a European destination, you can expect to pay £2 a day but some non-EU countries like Northern Cyprus, Turkey and Switzerland will have different rules on usage limits.

  2. Mind the cap: Even if you are paying to roam abroad, you may not have the same allowances for data as your UK contract. Look at your provider’s fair usage policy, which will govern how much data you can use before you incur extra charges.

  3. Download before you go: Download any shows, films and music at home before travelling to avoid using up your data and make it easy to get your entertainment on the move. Store your boarding passes and other important travel documents on your mobile in advance so that they’re easy to access.

  4. Flight mode is your friend: Before flying to your destination, enable your mobile’s flight mode or switch off data roaming to avoid the risk of incurring changes as you pass through different territories.

  5. A timely Swytch: If you’re planning to make plenty of calls and texts on your holiday, you could consider renting a second mobile number for your phone. An internet phone service like Swytch will allow you to receive calls and texts sent to this number when overseas and you won't pay for incoming calls. You'll also benefit from cheap outgoing calls and texts, charged at local rates.

  6. Cruising for a bruising: When travelling by ferry or taking a holiday cruise, be sure to sign up for onboard Wi-Fi. If you don’t, you could find yourself hit with a hefty charge when your mobile accesses the boat’s satellite provider. Roaming on these at-sea services known as a maritime network, is much more expensive than on land.

  7. Leave voicemail at home: Depending on your network and the country you are in, sometimes even receiving a voicemail on holiday can cost you. If your provider does include this charge then call them up before you travel and ask them to switch it off.

  8. Local (SIM) hero: If you’re a frequent traveller or staying abroad for several weeks, it may be worth considering buying a local pay-as-you-go SIM for your mobile. Check which networks operate in the country you’re visiting and compare the best deals. You will need an unlocked mobile to use the new SIM and bear in mind it will mean getting a temporary new number.

  9. Wi-Fi wins: To avoid eating up your data allowance, use hotel and cafe Wi-Fi connections whenever possible, ensuring public access points are safe and secure before logging on. Be wary of logging into personal accounts on public networks and steer clear of online banking.

  10. Check your limits: Roaming charges abroad should be restricted to a maximum of £45 per month anywhere in the world. Your provider should warn you when you are approaching this limit and stop your data services when you hit it. However, make sure if you have paid for a roaming add-on that this does not opt you out of the cap.

Catherine Hiley, mobiles expert at, comments: “With over 10,000 flights expected to depart from UK airports in this period, this will be the first time travelling abroad for many holidaymakers since the reintroduction of roaming charges - but it shouldn’t be a voyage into the unknown.

“As part of your pre-holiday plans, check your provider’s rules to see if there are any charges for the country you are visiting. Most countries in the EU should be covered by your network’s standard package and you might be able to make extra savings by buying a special holiday pass or roaming add-on.

“It can be unnerving to receive a flurry of text messages when you access networks in a different country. But if you are concerned about unexpected charges, the safest bet is to keep data roaming switched off and make good use of free Wi-Fi.”

For more about mobile and data roaming charges visit Uswitch’s guide


Sarika Patel
Phone: 07815 635259
Twitter: @UswitchPR

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Uswitch is the UK’s top comparison website for home services switching. We’ve saved consumers £2.5 billion off their energy bills since we launched in September 2000, and also help people find a better deal on their broadband, mobile and TV.

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