We’ve been designing itineraries in Spain since the year 2000 and clients often get in touch regarding cellphone usage and the prevalence of wifi in Spain. Here’s what we say and why we recommend hiring a device to guarantee high quality mobile internet in Spain.
Unlimited Internet in Spain – Tips & Questions
1 Check Your Phone/Tablet Works Abroad Before You Travel
We always advise clients to check with their own service provider to confirm that the phone will actually work abroad – as some companies require their customers to enable international access before travelling. And ask what roaming packages are available to you with your provider. You can do this online if you have actually left for Spain. Almost all service providers publish their tariffs for receiving and making calls, receiving and sending SMS messages and data on a country-by-country basis.
2 Should you buy a SIM for your phone/tablet in Spain?
If the roaming charges seem pricey – and you need to make or take many calls, one option is to bring an extra unlocked mobile phone (one that works with any carrier) and pick-up a SIM card in Spain. That way, you can provide the local Spanish number to those callers so you aren’t paying international roaming rates. If you haven’t brought an extra phone from home, you can also buy a pay-as-you-go handset when you get to Spain which often comes loaded with credit. The only disadvantage is that you have to carry two phones and charging two phones and having to top up the second phone if you go over your credit– but you won’t return home to any surprises. Please bear in mind, that if you wish to buy a mobile phone in Spain, you need to bring ID when you purchase the handset. We usually recommend going to the department store El Corte Ingles where staff tend to be quite customer friendly and will usually have a staff member who can speak English.
3 Should you hire a mobile internet device for unlimited internet in Spain?
If you need to be contactable and you can channel your calls and messages through VoIP applications such as Skype and Viber or WhatsApp, you should consider mobile internet access. All the service providers allow multiple devices to connect to their pocket-sized modems – which is very handy for family trips and small groups. And the device can also be accessed by tablets and e-books, so if you like to travel with your iPad or Kindle – you can enjoy browsing on a large screen and you can purchase that e-book on Amazon that you didn’t have time to download before you left.
There are quite a few Mifi providers in Spain who can courier the device to your hotel at no extra cost before you arrive. The pack usually comes with a charger and cable and when you are ready to leave Spain, you pop it all in the stamped and self-addressed envelope provided and drop it in a mailbox before you depart. Your hotel will be able to tell you the nearest place to do this and may even arrange to drop it off for you. Rental typically costs about 7-10 EUR per day for 1GB of data – and can be accessed by up to 5 devices – and you can add in up to another 10GB for the duration of your stay if you need it.
Check out services such as TEP which has plans from as little as 5.50 EUR per day (approx) with the option to upgrade and add-on extras. If you’re travelling via London you can collect the device at the main airports, if not it can be sent by FEDEX to any location in Europe for a fee. Barcelona-based WifiVox is a good option for small groups or large families flying into the Barcelona.
4 Confused about what you need? Ask yourself these questions…
- Are you staying in just one hotel or are you moving around? If it’s just one, you can check whether your hotel has free wifi and where that wi-fi is located e.g. in a lobby or in your bedroom. If you are moving around, you should consider hiring a device for unlimited internet in Spain
- Do you run a business and need to stay in touch? Go for mobile internet and channel as much as possible through Viber and Skype. If that’s not an option for you, get a Spanish SIM card and bring a separate handset – issue the number to your deputy and other key people to avoid roaming costs.
- Are you travelling for your birthday and will be taking calls from friends and family? Get unlimited internet in Spain via a mobile device and encourage birthday greetings be made via Viber, Skype, Whatsapp or the Facebook phone app.
- Are you a keen user of social media such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter? You’ll need unlimited internet in Spain
- Do you have teenage kids travelling with you? Get mobile internet with unlimited access and enjoy seeing them share their experiences with their friends.
- Is this a last-minute trip? Do you need to research your itinerary on the go? Get mobile internet so you can book your restaurants, order tickets to museums, and book tour guides on the fly.
- Are you using your holiday to switch off social media and the phone? Go for it! We can’t do it in this line of business but we are in awe of anybody brave enough to try. Switch it all off. Leave your hotel contact details with your loved ones. And enjoy the silence
5 Need our help?
We can’t take your calls but we can make sure you have the smoothest trip possible. So good in fact that you might want high speed unlimited internet in Spain to share your photos and update friends and family. Your camera will be bursting with the images from the cookery class in the Boqueria food market so you’ll need to upload the images to Dropbox. You’re probably keen to download the book your tour guide recommended about Sephardi cuisine while you are on the high-speed train from Madrid to Toledo. And you want to check the recipe for bacalao al pil-pil that you tasted yesterday in Bilbao and want to see whether the ingredients really are as straightforward as the chef said they were. You might want to email the wine store you usually order from back home to see whether the owner stocks the wines you tasted a few days ago in La Rioja. Sounds like mobile internet might come in handy really…