If you want to access the internet abroad on your laptop, tablet or iPad, you can use a mobile broadband USB dongle or sim card...
But before you connect to the web while travelling, you need to make sure that you won't be coming home to the shock of a massive bill at the end of the month.
Overseas "roaming" charges have come down a lot as mobile broadband has become more widespread. There were frequent reports a few years ago of holidaymakers returning to find they had racked up costs in excess of £10,000!
Luckily, telecoms regulator Ofcom and the European Commission have since got involved and the cost of roaming onto foreign networks is now more reasonable.
Mobile broadband overseas charges
Even though roaming fees have come down in recent times, you still need to keep track of how much you download.
The price you pay for your mobile broadband connection abroad will depend on your network provider's charges, as well as the country you're travelling to.
You'll normally be charged a fixed amount per 1MB of data you use. But most networks also offer bundled add-ons that can help keep your costs down.
Visit your provider's website for details:
- O2 (www.O2.co.uk)
- Orange (www.Orange.co.uk)
- Three (www.Three.co.uk)
- T-Mobile (www.T-Mobile.co.uk)
- Vodafone (www.Vodafone.co.uk)
Mobile broadband travel tariffs
A growing number of mobile broadband providers now offer roaming add-ons, which allow you to go online abroad without having to worry about running up a huge bill.
You still need to keep an eye on your downloads, but it's usually cheaper to pay for a package of data upfront. The alternative is a pay-as-you-go service.
Pay-as-you-go mobile broadband abroad
Because of the high cost of going online abroad, many pay-as-you-go mobile broadband dongles have to be activated for roaming before you can use them while travelling overseas.
If your provider offers a data roaming bundle, you should enquire about whether you need to buy this before you leave, or if you can simply purchase a data bundle abroad whenever you need to connect.
But remember to top-up before you depart, as the cost of your data bundle will need to be subtracted from your balance of credit. Data roaming bundles mean you essentially use your mobile broadband on a pay-as-you-go basis abroad - only topping up your roaming allowance as and when you need to.
However, you'll be charged at your network's standard rate - which could be around £5 per MB in some parts of the world - once your bundle has run out, so make sure you keep track or how much data you're using.
Using your iPad abroad
Anyone with an iPad will tell you just how much fun you can have playing games and surfing the internet on it. But using your iPad while travelling overseas has its own set of risks.
Most of what the iPad can do is powered by an internet connection. This makes it easy to use lots of data without even realising it. Certain apps will also run in the background, steadily eating into your download allowance.
The advice below should help you keep costs down when using your iPad abroad.
Capping costs in the EU
Legislation capping the cost of using the internet in the EU came into force in July 2010. The EU regulations mean that providers must take measures to prevent a "bill shock" situation. Most achieve this by stopping your connection once you hit €50 of usage.
Should you need to use more data, you can increase the cut-off point simply by contacting your network provider. You can also lower the threshold if the thought of spending up to €50 on data is frightening to you.
At present, not all mobile broadband providers allow iPad customer to use 3G overseas. So even if you have the 3G model and the appropriate sim card installed, you will still only be able to use Wi-Fi to go online while you're abroad.
How much could it cost?
Although pricing in the EU is now much fairer than it used to be, many people still get caught out when they rack up roaming data charges just outside of the EU boundary, or elsewhere in the world.
The easiest way to find out how much your trip will cost you is to contact your mobile broadband provider, telling them where you're travelling to. Remember, costs could be around £5 per 1MB if data in some areas of the world.
Use Wi-Fi wherever you can
No matter which provider you're with - or if you don't have a 3G iPad - you may be able to use Wi-Fi while travelling overseas with your iPad.
Many hotels now offer free wireless broadband when you check-in, while coffee shops, bars and restaurants across the globe are increasingly kitted out with similar services.
Using Wi-Fi wherever possible means you can save your mobile broadband data for when you're not in range of a hotspot. As well as usually being free to use, Wi-Fi can normally provide a more stable and often a faster connection than 3G networks are capable of.