Staying in touch

Whilst you’re abroad, keeping in touch with family and friends is essential. Think about the following before departure:

Mobile phones

Before you go abroad check with your UK network provider whether there will be extra charges for data, calls and messages. Consider getting your phone unlocked before leaving so that you can use it with a local SIM.

Phone contracts

You can choose a combined phone contract, meaning the handset will be cheaper or possibly free, but make sure you check the monthly payment and call chargers before signing. There is often a monthly charge and a commitment to at least a year or two.

In certain countries, you can get a SIM only contract which means you keep your existing handset. Again, check the contract before signing. It is common for these types of contracts to be yearly or even monthly.

When setting up a contract with a mobile provider, be prepared to provide:

  • acceptance letter from institution/company
  • proof of address in host country
  • personal details
  • bank details.

Pay-as-you-go plans

Pay-as-you-go plans may be similar to those in the UK, with no contract, no need to provide bank details, no commitment and no bill. This option may be the best for those only living in the host country for a semester.

A potential disadvantage is the likely expense of making international calls and expensive data charges. However, you can make calls and send messages through Skype, Viber, Facebook Messenger calls when connected to WiFi.


Your internet connection will depend on the type of accommodation you choose as well as the mobile phone option you go for.

Some accommodation will include internet with your rent, others may not, and hostels or hotels are likely to have WiFi included. You may also opt for a mobile plan with large internet data usage which may mean you won’t need additional internet access.

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