If you're planning a trip to Europe, you might be wondering how to get internet access on the move cheaply without having to buy prepaid 3G SIM cards in each country.
The answer? Droam -- a company that rents out portable 3G/Wi-Fi hotspots for use across Europe, with rates that simply cannot be beaten by global roaming SIM card companies.
For short trips, there's a €6.92 ($9.48) per day price for Droam, and after the first seven days, Droam drops the price to €3.50 ($4.79) per day. That only includes 50MB usage per day, though, which is quite limiting (and too little for use with a laptop)
A better pricing option is to swap the daily rate for a fee of €65 ($89), which covers a month's usage or 1GB, whichever comes first. Subsequent gigabytes are discounted to €45 ($61.65) each.
Unless you're taking a very short trip in Europe, this is actually probably a better option for most people, because it reduces the effective cost of using the Droam on a per-day basis. For example, €65 (A$89) divided by 31 days results in a per-day fee of only A$2.87.
Droam provides services in Western-Europe, excluding North Scandinavia.
The countries where Droam can be used are: The Netherlands, Belgium, UK, Germany, France, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Ireland, Denmark, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Romania, Czech Republic, and Morocco.
However, the company does offer services in other countries such as USA, Asia and Scandinavia -- with pricing on application.
One week of unlimited data usage is available in the USA for €65 ($89), which is still exceedingly good value compared to paying for global roaming.
However if you are a bit more organised you can get a month's unlimited access in the USA from Simple Mobile for US$80, though not with the convenience of a portable Wi-Fi hotspot device to use.
Cash deposit required
Droam holds a €150 ($205) deposit, which insures it against loss, theft or breakage of the 3G/Wi-Fi modem (sometimes known as a "MiFi") that they rent out to you. They return it to you when they receive the hotspot back from you in the provided return envelope.
Droam allows two days for the return of the hotspot after your rental period ends, so it's probably best to send it back while you're still in Europe, rather than taking it back to Australia and sending it back from there.
Update: Droam got in touch with us to let us know how rental works for Australian travellers: "for travelers from outside of the Netherlands, we send the Droam to their first lodging of arrival, with a return envelope included. This envelope can be used anywhere in Europe, to return the Droam at our costs. The 2 day rule does not apply here as that is simply impossible; we hold the €150,- deposit and block the access until the Droam comes back to us."
You can read more details at Droam's website.