WiFi, 3G and Mobile Internet in Europe
It is now possible to have reasonably priced mobile internet (3G) in many countries in Europe, without having to enter into a contract for more than 1 month. This is perfect for those of us travelling who need more than occasional internet usage.
If you only need occasional internet access, and don't have your own computer then try a local library, where the internet is often free or very cheap, or an internet cafe.
If you need occasional internet access, but have your own laptop then try some of the cafes in towns that advertise WiFi. Lookout for WiFi stickers in the cafe windows. McDonalds and Starbucks have free WiFi in almost every store. You only need to buy the cheapest thing on the menu.
If you need more than occasional use, then consider getting a mobile internet SIM card from the country you are visiting. Using a data plan from your provider in your home country when abroad will always work out very expensive. Getting a local SIM card is much cheaper.
I run a series of websites and need daily (or at least every other day) internet access. Rather then driving to a McDonalds, etc, and paying for coffee, I like to sit in my vehicle and use the internet via a local SIM card and my internet dongle.
Each country has it's own set of deals, which I have tried to explain below. Please note that some of the details might be out of date, as the industry moves quickly.
There are a number of high-power long-range WiFi antennas that will allow you to get the campsites WiFi from your pitch, or even a public WiFi connection when you are parked or wild camping.
In the UK there are a few companies to consider.
Motorhome WiFi is a company specialising in WiFi for motorhomes and campervans. They sell a number of products that are road tested by themselves, as Adam and Sophie used WiFi extensively during their campervan tour of Europe.
- High Gain USB Omni-Directional Antenna - a high powered antenna that is the best option for WiFi on the road.
- High Power Directional Panel & Suction Bracket - a directional WiFi antenna, best for those who are serious about getting WiFi.
You can read more about Adam's WiFi experiences.
Selling WiFi products that are good for on the road usage.
- Directional Antenna - Very high power and long range, but needs to be pointed directly at the WiFi router or ariel. Best positioned on the roof or dashboard.
- Omni Antenna - Not such a long range as the Directional antenna above, but does not need to pointed at the WiFi router or ariel. Just clip to wing mirror or pole and it will find WiFi in all directions.
Vodafone Data Traveller
Update May 2013 : The Vodafone Data Traveller has changed considerably. For up to date info check out Adam's 3G data roaming comparison.
Vodafone offer a service where from £10 per month you can use your Vodafone phone, tablet or laptop dongle abroad. The Vodafone Data Traveller . The amounts of data you can use is limited, and you have to a Vodafone phone contract to be eligible. But this could be a useful and convenient service for those who need occasional and low volume internet access - so ideal for some emails and web surfing for a 20 minutes per day or so. Here are some links about Vodafone Data Traveller Adam's VDT experiences - used successfully in many countries barryd's bad experience - we must read the small print