While getting a decent airfare and accommodation are obviously concerns that most tourists have when planning a vacation, for many, the equally pressing issue is how to get WiFi when traveling abroad, including in Ireland.
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And while WiFi is free in most public places throughout Ireland, including airports, restaurants, and bars, you won’t be able to access the Internet outside of that — unless, of course, you have a plan in place before you leave home.
Here are the 5 most common solutions to this issue.
Sign up for an International Plan with Your Mobile Carrier
This may be the most straightforward way of accessing WiFi when traveling around Ireland, but it can be expensive if you’re not careful.
Before traveling to Ireland last winter, my husband and I signed up for AT&T’s International Day Pass. For $10 per day, you get unlimited talk and text for the first line. It is an additional $5 a day for a second line.
I only used the plan when I really needed to and I was the only one who signed up for the pass. When I was in places where WiFi was available, I turned the cellular data off on my iPhone, thereby lowering my total bill.
The plan also includes unlimited data, which means that you can upload photos on the go to, say, Facebook or Instagram and not get charged extra for that.
Verizon offers a similar called TravelPass, which is $5 per day per device when used in Mexico and Canada and $10 per day per device when traveling in other countries.
No doubt other carriers have similar plans.
Tip: if you want to minimize your data use, remember to turn off push notifications on things like mail and other apps that you regularly get notifications from at home. That means you’ll have more data to play with while traveling abroad.
Purchase a SIM Card in Ireland
The second option is to purchase a prepaid international SIM card, a smart chip inside your phone that typically stores your contacts and archived messages. You will get a new local phone number and a data plan along with it (about €15) that you can top up as you go.
You can buy one at most Irish airports and at supermarkets like Tesco and other resellers (smaller grocery stores across the country). Or you can walk into a mobile carrier store and simply buy one there.
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Before putting the SIM card into your phone, you’ll need to know if your phone will accept the new card. For it to work, the phone needs to be unlocked. Check with your cell phone provider as unlocking a phone depends on your contract and there may be a small fee involved.
If you have an old cell phone, test the new SIM card on the device. You can also buy phones that are already unlocked with no contract.
Buy a Mobile Phone
However, you could also walk into any cell phone provider store in Ireland (like those mentioned above) and buy a prepaid phone.
If you are looking for a basic cell phone model, I suggest you visit any one of the Tesco locations in Ireland where you’ll find a variety of choices, including cheap prepaid phones that are ideal for tourists spending a short time in Ireland.
Rent a Personal Wi-Fi Device
Having your own personal hotspot that you can carry with you is another affordable option that will enable you to get WiFi in Ireland.
WiFi Candy offers just that.
Rent the pocket-sized device for as long as you want, knowing that you’ll have unlimited data while you’re in Ireland.
You’ll also get 12 gigabytes of data if you decide to cross the border into Northern Ireland (technically the U.K.) and spend anywhere from 1-3 days there.
This WiFi option makes perfect sense if there are multiple people traveling with you and need Internet access for multiple devices, including laptops, tablets, and phones.
Pick up the device at a designated location in Dublin Airport or have it delivered to your B&B or hotel. Returning the device is easy. Either drop it off at the designated location at the airport or mail it back.
Expect to pay around €100 for two weeks of coverage.
5. Purchase an E-Sim
If you have a newer phone (iPhones 11 and up or Samsung Galaxy S20 versions and up), you will be able to install an electronic Sim on your phone.
This technology is a game changer in that you can be connected to the Internet anywhere in minutes.
With an eSIM, switching to other mobile networks is easy by using a service like Airalo. When you use a handheld SIM card, your regular phone number is disabled and you're given a local number that can access the local mobile network.
With an eSIM, you can have two phone numbers on the one device.
You can spend as little as $5 on 1 gigabyte of data while in Ireland, but that probably won't be sufficient if you are moving around, accessing the Internet and communicating with friends at home while you're on vacation.
I recommend at least 5 gigabytes of data, which will only cost you $13 for 30 days.
Connecting to the Internet at WiFi Friendly Locations
If you really want to go the cheap route and you only need to access the Internet every now and again, simply disable the cellular option on your phone and access it only when you have a free WiFi connection.
As mentioned above, there are plenty of free Wi-Fi locations in Ireland and if the password is not immediately available, just ask in any restaurant, bar, or coffee shop and most employees will be happy to provide it to you.
Use WhatsApp when texting in an accessible WiFi location.
By clicking on the Amazon link below, I may earn a small commission from the Amazon Associates Program, but only if you decide to buy something on the site. However, you will not incur any additional costs by doing so.
Other Helpful Tips
- Remember to bring an international travel adapter that will allow you to charge your phone as the voltage in Ireland is different from that of the U.S.
- If you decide to use data, you can track that on your cell phone and even set a reminder when it reaches a certain threshold.
- Turning off your notifications will reduce the amount of data you use overseas. On an iPhone, go to Settings, then Notifications, and then select the apps you get notifications from and toggle to Off.
- Since many tourists want continuous Wi-Fi abroad to help them find directions (either walking or driving), the cheapest way to do this is to save an area from Google Maps on your phone or tablet and download it for use when you are offline.
How are you planning to access Wi-Fi when you get to Ireland? Let me know if you have any other solutions by dropping your comment below.