How much data do you need when traveling abroad?

From the Travel Mobile Blog | June 05, 2018
When you’re traveling you’re likely more concerned with how much data your prepaid SIM has rather than unlimited voice or text. So when purchasing a prepaid SIM for international travel it’s critical to know how much data you’ll use so you choose the right plan.

The average smartphone owner uses over 3 GB of data per month, and that's in their home market with access to WiFi at home or in the office.

Why you’ll use more data than normal

When in your home market your habits include using your Wi-Fi at home, in the office or perhaps at your favorite coffee shop.

When you’re traveling, you might have Wi-Fi in the hotel, but you won’t have Wi-Fi on the road for Google Maps and GPS. And you're probably taking more photos and videos than normal as well as sharing them through Social Media.

So you should expect to use more than your normal amount of data when traveling. Most operators provide discounts on the larger data bundles, so it’s usually cheaper to buy a little more than you end up needing as opposed to having to recharge and buy another bundle.

How much data am I using now? And where does it go?

The best way to determine your needs is to check your mobile phone bills, which should tell you how much data you use each month. The average smartphone owner uses over 3 GB per month.

Keep in mind nearly every app uses data, so in addition to email and web browsers you’ll want to think about the apps you use everyday.

This includes basics like iMessage and WhatsApp as well as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a variety of other social media apps. Apps like Facebook use location services and often auto-load content in the background, so you may be using data more than you think!

So how can I monitor my data usage?

You can install an application to keep track of your data use and identify which applications are consuming data. There are several options available, for example My Data Manager, which has a user-friendly interface and supports multiple languages.

The app performs monitoring of all processes on the phone that are making use of the Internet connection, and can help identify if the data plan purchased will meet your needs based on your data consumption.

The app also gives you the option to customize notifications, view historical data consumption and assess which applications consume the most data.

Other prepaid SIM things to keep in mind:

  • Remember while many of the U.S. operator plans include unlimited data, most of the rest of the world doesn’t work that way. When you run out of data, or credit, your service stops.

  • Roaming only works for postpaid phone users, meaning you pay a bill at the end of each month. If you have a prepaid phone it will not work outside your home country.

  • If you signed a contract or are paying for your phone monthly your phone is probably locked to your operator’s network and will not work with other SIMs. If you don’t know if your phone is locked you can ask your operator, or use one of the many sites on the web to check your IMEI (it’s a unique number that identifies your phone).

  • Finally, if you do choose to purchase a prepaid SIM, for use in the U.S. or when traveling abroad, make sure your phone is UNLOCKED!