Knowledge Base

How to Stay Connected Abroad on giffgaff for Less

mad scientist

This article explains how to minimize your roaming charges whilst staying abroad for less. Having access to data abroad can be important, so make sure to arm yourself with knowledge about roaming charges before heading out on your next trip out of the country.


I’ve recently returned from a vacation. During my time away, I found myself surprised at how much I relied on my data connection. When visiting somewhere unfamiliar, an internet connection and a smartphone can be just what you need to find your way around, avoid trouble and make sure you can find the facilities and fun you’re looking for.


Mobile usage charges abroad work differently than they do back at home. Additional costs are added to texts, MMS, calls and using data. giffgaff has to connect you to another network's signal to allow texts, calls and data to work, and this is why the charges are often increased.


There are ways to keep the costs down. It revolves around using some Wi-Fi hunting tips I'll explain below and being conscious of roaming charges. Before I share my tips for keeping connected for less whilst abroad, let’s take a look at the giffgaff roaming prices.

The giffgaff Roaming Charges


When you’re roaming whilst abroad, your SIM card will not have access to giffgaff’s signal back in the UK, so it is forced to use alternative signal. Your phone will automatically roam to any other local network signals available. This is where the term ‘roaming’ comes from.


Roaming on another network can be expensive, so it’s important to look at the charges before making any calls or connecting to the internet so that you’re not overspending


Texts, calls, data, MMS and connecting to voicemail are the actions you’ll be able to perform with a mobile signal, so these are the actions to watch out for.


Receiving texts is free in all countries, however sending texts isn’t free.


Sending texts in the EU is cheap, but if you send a text elsewhere in the world and it’ll cost significantly more than back at home.


A text here and there might not cost you much, but charges for a back-and-forth text conversation back home can quickly add up. To limit expenses, IM apps like Messenger or Whatsapp are great alternatives. You can still keep your roaming charges relatively low by simply being conservative with your text messaging too.


Making AND Receiving calls whilst in the EU isn’t free, but it’s not too expensive. Making and receiving calls in the EU won't rack up massive bills, but it will come out of your credit. Costs in the EU are relatively low, but take a look at the giffgaff international call page before you go abroad so that you know how much credit you'll need before you leave.


Calling and receiving calls from outside the EU can be expensive. Making and receiving calls outside the EU are considerably more expensive, so make sure to keep that in mind before calling abroad.


Voicemail costs are the same as the roaming call rates, so listening to a voicemail in the EU won't tug on your wallet.


Data Roaming Charges on giffgaff


Hopefully, you won’t need to make too many calls and texts, but you may need to use data. It's important to look into the current giffgaff data roaming charges before you set off on your journey.


In the EU, data roaming isn’t too bad, but costs can add up.  Because you'll be using credit for everything whilst abroad, the roaming charges can add up - you won't able to get your data allowances from your Goodybag. If you think you'll be using data in the EU, it would be wise to top your phone up with credit and keep your mobile data switched off every time you're not using it.


Outside the EU, data roaming prices are very high. I'd highly recommend taking a look at the most updated version of the giffgaff international roaming charges before using data outside of the EU. Make sure you know much you'll be paying per MB of data.






How to Keep Costs at a Minimum


Whilst some data roaming charges are very expensive, you shouldn’t be scared to touch your smartphone. By following the tips below you can ensure your charges are kept to a minimum.


  • Watch Your Minutes. Calling from the EU is relatively inexpensive, but to keep your giffgaff account in credit throughout the rest of your trip, keep an eye on the amount of minutes you're amassing.
  • Use instant messaging apps via free Wi-Fi where possible.
  • If Outside the EU, minimize mobile data usage. Stick to free Wi-Fi when you can.
  • If Visting the EU, you can keep your mobile data usage to a minimum by avoiding videos and photo-focused apps like Instagram.
  • Watch your calls, texts and data usage carefully when travelling outside the EU.

Tips for Finding Data Abroad


Free Wi-Fi will save your skin whilst abroad, so make sure to look out for it. There are a number of tips you can follow to make finding free Wi-Fi abroad easier. Even in the most barren places you’d be surprised at how easy it can be to find Wi-Fi.


The biggest tip: Before you go, research your hotel! Whilst your hotel may claim it has free Wi-Fi, the network may not work as well as you may need. Find your hotel on websites like and agoda and read through the review. You'll most certainly find details about the Wi-Fi quality.


If your hotel is receiving negative reviews for the Wi-Fi, you may find it a lifesaver to book another hotel.


Wi-Fi in your hotel isn’t necessary, but it is very useful. If you have Wi-Fi in your hotel, you can use your hotel room as your base of operations for planning your itineraries and day plans. There is no guarantee you’ll be able to find Wi-Fi outside, so here are some great tips to follow before leaving your hotel room each day.


    • Download Maps.Me - this is an offline maps app, like Google maps, that can help you to navigate, find restaurants, accommodation and tourism sights. Everything on Maps.Me works offline, but you must download areas before you can use it. Once the app is downloaded, make sure to access the app in your hotel so that you can download information for the area you’re in.
    • Get numbers for taxis, public transport and tourism helplines - all of these numbers can be very useful in difficult situations, so make sure you have them saved.
    • Check nearby for convenience stores - you may be looking to spend your vacation in restaurants and bars, but convenience stores are useful for when you’re peckish, thirsty or desperately need toiletries, so use your Wi-Fi at the hotel to scout out the area. You could always double check with hotel staff about the whereabouts before you leave!



Once you’re out and about, you may want to use the following tips for finding free Wi-Fi:


  • If you see a sign for free Wi-Fi in a restaurant but can’t connect, don’t be afraid to ask a staff member for help.
  • Big chains you’ll recognize usually have free Wi-Fi - stopping by Mcdonald's, Starbucks or Burger King can be useful for getting reliable Wi-Fi access.
  • If you don’t know where big chains may be, use the Maps.Me app to search for nearby restaurants or coffee shops.
  • If you’re in a tourist-heavy area, there may be free Wi-Fi in public areas. Make sure to look into this before you go!
  • Once you have the password for a free Wi-Fi hotspot within a shop or venue, you may still get access whilst standing outside the venue. You could go back to a location you’ve been before if you’re desperate for data.

That just about wraps up my tips for staying connected abroad on giffgaff for less! Hopefully after reading this article you’ll be prepared to reduce roaming charges, make the most out of hotel Wi-Fi and use your sleuthing skills to find nearby free Wi-Fi spots. 


You'll need airtime credit to make the most out of a giffgaff SIM abroad, so make sure you're in credit before you go! You should try to monitor your usage - it's always reassuring to have extra credit to fall back on. Alternatively, you can setup auto top-up before you leave so that your phone tops up if your credits runs down.


ollie_1.jpgOllie (zerodudex333) is a big mobile/tech fan. He posts blogs on Monday and Tuesday Mornings.

Follow his Twitter and his Instagram travel account.





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Good blog @zerodudex333

Is better than Google Maps? 


one of the best posts I've seen in this community! many thanks for sharing. 


the only thing I would add is the importance of staying safe while connecting to open wifi networks. Use a VPN, always!

mad scientist

@leshin I'd say Google Maps is still better, marginally, but the main benefit of is that you can quickly download your local area for viewing offline. A similar feature is available on Google Maps but it doesn't work nearly as good as the Maps.Me offline functionality. 

mad scientist

Thanks @manocas ! Smiley Very Happy And that's a very good point too, leave accessing important data (like online banking) to your private networks, mobile data or via a VPN if you can.


Very useful and informative post @zerodudex333


Excellent post.


Very good post. Only thing I would add is that for places like USA fall into the 'switch off giffgaff data' category, while I agree it is too expensive to roam with, personally I would want to have either a local SIM or a second UK SIM to provide some affordable roaming data (e.g. Three's feel-at-home) rather than rely 100% on the availability of wi-fi.


Lots of good advice and do use a good VPN too.


Fantastic blog Ollie Smiley Happy


I would, like @cim, get a local SIM but only if I'm going to be away for a long time. For a short stay, I tend to rely on Wi-Fi (which is available basically everywhere now) and only use Whatsapp for calls and texts Smiley Wink