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Canadian ideas for cell data in Europe?

I'm traveling to the UK, France, Switzerland and Italy in June. I'm on Rogers for my cell phone package. Any advice on best data plan/ SIM cards, etc for this travel?

Most posts talk about the US carriers but we have limited options in Canada for providers. Obviously data roaming is WAY too expensive but any tips on data packages or ways around roaming?

I'll use wifi where I can, and I have some paper maps but I would really like the security of being able to use maps in real time without wifi if I need to.


Posted by
365 posts

Try Google maps offline. We download the areas needed on our phone to access without data.

Posted by
3242 posts

I’ve used giffgaff in the UK on another trip.
It worked really well and I remember using maps and apps all over while out and about.

You order a free simcard by mail, then activate it online with whatever plan you choose .
I’ve just received mine for my trip in a few weeks time, when I’m going to the UK and Belgium.
The website says you can roam in the EU, with a limit, and top up if you want to make calls to Canada.
I can post when I get back about how it worked for this trip.

There is also one through Orange, I believe , but I don’t know much about it.

I agree, our cell providers here at home are the worst for travel!

Posted by
600 posts

I’ve seen Airola mentioned in the forum as an e sim option to use. I’m going to try it on my next trip.

Posted by
47 posts

We’ve used airalo several times with success. Relatively straight forward. There is an an option to keep your regular phone number/sim for calls. Cheers!

Posted by
420 posts

I also use Giffgaff, mainly when I'm in the UK, but a word of warning for roaming - they recently changed their terms, and you now have to have used the phone in the UK in the 63 days prior to roaming in the EU to be eligible. So if you're arriving first in the UK and using it there (which it looks like poster will be) and then going to Europe, its fine. But you won't be able to get a new SIM and start off in the EU.
"Members who live in the UK and have frequent UK usage will get EU roaming for up to 63 days. Provided that they've used giffgaff in the UK in the 63 days before arriving in an EU or EEA country"

Posted by
7076 posts

I use Airalo esims for my trips to Switzerland. The initial setup was a bit more complex than I would have thought, but instructions are very detailed, so it worked out. And subsequent uses have been seamless since the Airalo setup data is now saved in my phone. A few dollars gives me enough data for a week, and the 30-day Europe-wide (incl Switz.) 3 or 5 GB options should be good for a longer trip.

Posted by
3242 posts

Simon: thanks for the tip about giffgaff.
I’m in London one night before Belgium, so I’ll be sure to use it there first.

Posted by
169 posts

Last year I used Airalo in London and Paris. It is a virtual SIM, so there isn't a physical SIM card to insert. Setup was fairly easy and it worked flawlessly.

Posted by
32265 posts

I'm also on Rogers and the easiest and most effective solution I've found is simply to use their Roam Like Home plan, as that provides the same features and benefits I have at home for voice, text and data. I need to be accessible at my home number, so it's really the most practical option for me. I've used it in all the countries you mentioned (and more) and it has worked without any problems at all.

However, it is a somewhat expensive option at $15 per day for a maximum of 20 days in each billing period. I've used this for many years and find that $300 is not really a significant expense in the overall cost of a European trip. You'll have to compare your billing cycle with the dates of your trip to get some idea of the cost, or give Rogers a call to confirm the details.

Being able to use my phone the way I do at home with cellular data is a huge convenience during travels! I tend to use local WiFi sparingly, as I'm not always sure if it's secure. I prearrange bill payments before leaving home, but if I do have to do anything sensitive, I tend to use cellular data.

Posted by
903 posts

Aside from the caveat about usage in the T&C that Simon so helpfully pointed out above, GiffGaff is a good recommendation if a trip starts in London. The plans from US and Canadian providers often seem quite expensive (and Airalo too to be honest) compared to UK prices. Airalo might have some utility if your trip involves a lot of different countries, not sure. The reviews I looked at on Trip Advisor after mentions on here seemed fairly resoundingly bad. Some on here have used it without issue though.

I posted these two links in the England forum recently to compare sim only deals in the UK. Most providers seem fairly format agnostic these days as actual physical sims go the way of the dodo in favour of eSIMs.

In the words of the great Laurie Anderson, "pay as you go" is what you're looking for; not sure if they use that phrase in North America (outside of "O Superman").

Posted by
3 posts

You might want to give eSIM a shot if your phone supports it. I used a European data plan from Textr eSIM last year when I traveled to UK and France. It simply switched network when I crossed the border, got nothing to complain. I am planning for my next summer trip and noticed that they are having a sale on their Europe plan now. Feel free to check it out and see if it suits your needs. Safe travels!

Posted by
1259 posts

I recommend Orange. It provide you with a cellular number so that you can make phone calls and texts