The European Sim Card & European Wifi verdict
As they say, The proof is in the pudding, and following on from our last blog on travelling and working, it seems pretty important to do a follow up to update what has and hasn’t worked in terms of staying ‘connected’ on the move. We’ve been through the UK, France, Italy and the Netherlands so far and below is a brief summary that should help you decide on how you’ll best stay connected for work in Europe.
The SIM Cards
As mentioned in our previous article, we purchased a couple of different SIM card options to let us transition from country to country in Europe. All the SIM cards we purchased have been a rip roaring success – with pretty solid coverage wherever we have gone and a relatively easy set up. In a month we have used between 3GB and 5GB of data each (with our accommodation wifi being used wherever we can). We haven’t really used the phone or text capabilities of the SIM cards, so can’t comment on them, but it is nice to know they are there if we need them.
Prepaidzero – the SIM card we got from Prepaidzero was 5GB, which was pretty perfect to us as our main device. Despite saying on the site you aren’t able to tether from your phone with the data pack we grabbed, we didn’t have any problems using the phone as a mobile hot spot. The SIM card arrived in New Zealand reasonably promptly and had straight forward instructions to setup. However, it did feel a little bit less professional in it’s packaging and website than the WorldSim options, and the ability to login online and check the usage/add data is a bit dated. That said, when we did top up – it worked perfectly, with no need to call support for any help.
World Sim – we grabbed 2 x 4GB SIM cards and a mifi dongle from World Sim. The coverage has been pretty solid and the delivery to NZ was prompt. Despite a few issues in getting the SIM card up and running, the support team were fantastic and have now helped us top up twice. The packaging it comes in is professional, and the site has a great login area. Again, we didn’t have any problems tethering off this SIM card despite the site saying otherwise. The mifi dongle has been pretty handy as a backup, but we have barely used it.
*Note on both: check exactly where you are going and if the sim card has coverage there. Monaco for example was a complete dead spot.*
Overall – the Prepaidzero sim has been far more reliable and we haven’t had to use their support at all. It’s essentially been seamless. It also came with a bigger data package. Unfortunately we were only able to top up in 3GB increments – and the packages only last a month – but despite WorldSIM looking more professional, Prepaidzero was definitely our winner.
Internet and working on trains
Honestly – from our experience don’t plan on having anything that resembles decent internet on European trains. While they all promise a wifi connection, we’re yet to come across one that works consistently enough to work online. You’ll get a spurt of connection here and there which is fine for picking up emails, but as a general rule you’ll be without an internet connection. That said, I’m drafting this blog offline on a train, so if you plan to have work that doesn’t need an internet connection you’ll be able to use that transit time well.
Happily, we’re yet to stay in accommodation that hasn’t offered free wifi. That was obviously a criteria of ours when booking our stay, and it’s been a godsend. We’ve had our mifi bundle as a backup, but when you are staying below cliffs in somewhere like the Amalfi coast and don’t have a cell signal, then having wifi at your accommodation is an absolute must. The quality of that wifi connection has varied significantly – for the most part it has been quick enough for us to do our work, but not quick enough to stream videos. That has meant some of the online elements of web design has taken a bit longer than usual – but on the whole it’s been pretty good.
In a nutshell
From day one of our travels we’ve been hugely thankful for our SIM cards. For things like checking train schedules and browsing restaurant choices, through to replying to emails and being able to call back to NZ on Skype, the SIM cards have been invaluable. That little bit of forward planning in ordering a European wide sim card has been really beneficial, and the same goes with making sure a hotel has wifi (and air conditioning!). A tiny bit of pre trip planning that is definitely making working and travelling a much more viable and enjoyable experience. Our advice – get a Prepaidzero sim before leaving New Zealand.