Heading overseas? Get local mobile data

If you've enabled data roaming on your phone or tablet and gone overseas you've probably encountered that awful feeling of looking at the bill on your return and regretting every photo you've uploaded to Facebook and all the restaurant reviews you read online. Some countries don't have cheap options for wifi at hotels and short of hanging out at Starbucks and McDonalds, staying in touch can turn into a frustrating exercise.

Whenever I head overseas these days, I take my pocket wifi with me. And some of our family have gotten in on the game as well and borrow one when heading to Oz on holiday.

Because New Zealand mifi aren't locked, I buy a local SIM on prepay and just swap out. I've successfully done this in Australia with both Amaysim and Vodafone. For between $10 and $20 dollars I can hook myself up with a prepay plan with a couple of gig broadband. The Amaysim pack I have includes free social media sites, so actually, Facebook uploads don't deduct from my available data.

Even better on these jaunts, with full charge, I can throw the device in my pack and connect myself and fellow travellers for real-time instagram updates of our sightseeing experience for about 6 to 8 hours. It's great when you want to pull up local information or book tickets online whilst out and about. And the benefit of not changing out the SIM in my phone is that I can still send and receive txts on my usual number.

A few tips, particularly if you're not technically confident:
  • Unless you're comfortable with configuring router settings, stick to Vodafone devices and Vodafone SIMs - the devices come configured with international settings so it's easy enough to plug and play if you stay 'in-house'.
  • When you purchase your SIM, the saleperson may try to persuade you to purchase a full device on the premise that "your one won't work here". As long as your mifi is unlocked you won't have that problem. 
  • If you are technically inclined, most telcos provide support information online to assist with configuration, or their call centre can talk you through the setup.

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