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May 30, 2019

7 min. read

Smartphones have made international travel a snap. But sometimes unexpected roaming charges on your data plan can take the joy out of your vacation. Thankfully, accessing a cheap internet connection is easier than it used to be. Here are five ways to find a budget-friendly connection while you roam the world.

Hop on free public Wi-Fi

Most folks know that coffee shops are popular spots for finding free Wi-Fi, but did you know that many cities now offer free connections in major tourist areas? Open connections are widely available in Antwerp, New York City, Boston, San Francisco, Osaka and Barcelona, among other destinations, to help fuel your exploration. The WiFi Map app can help you find free internet wherever you go.

Use a global SIM card

If you’re travelling to multiple countries, getting a global SIM card can help reduce your data charges. A SIM card from Toronto-based KnowRoaming costs $10 and works in more than 200 countries, with unlimited data starting at $3.99 USD per day. You can purchase phone numbers for countries you’re visiting for about $3 USD per month.

Scope out internet access on the subway

Some destinations also offer free Wi-Fi in their subways. Seoul, Toronto, Hong Kong and Chicago all have internet access at many of their metro stations. Some may charge a fee for this service, but it’s usually quite reasonable. For example, the London Underground charges £2 daily; £5 weekly and £15 for monthly use.

Rent a pocket Wi-Fi

Travelling in a group? Renting a pocket Wi-Fi allows you to connect multiple devices, which adds up to savings. Prices at Skyroam start at $9 USD a day for unlimited data, plus about $10 USD per day for rental of the device, or you can buy it for about $150 USD. A bit smaller than the average cellphone, the pocket Wi-Fi is mailed to you with a return label, so it’s easy to send back after your trip if you’re renting it.

Get an international data plan

Your wireless provider will have international data plans available, but you may need to purchase them in advance so you can avoid roaming charges. This is convenient, since you don’t need to worry about Wi-Fi or rentals, but it will likely be the most expensive option. The cost depends on the carrier and the package, ranging anywhere between $30 to $100 or more.

Get more budget-friendly travel tips

Click here to find out if you should travel with cash or credit. Plus, find out about hidden travel expenses and how you can plan for them.

Thinking of getting a new smartphone for your trip abroad? CAA Members can save a little extra with this awesome Telus offer.

Image credit: istock.com/Morsa Images

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