Summer holidays got you feeling stressed? You’re not alone.

More than a third of people from the Yorkshire and Humberside area agree holidays are stressful due to roaming charges, a survey commissioned by mobile operator spusu finds.

Other sources of stress while travelling extend to tasks such as managing spendings, using a mobile phone for calls, texting and data, and making payments. The research comes as Ofcom calls for new rules that will force phone companies to make their roaming charges clearer to customers.

UK holidaymakers are keen to be in control of their holidays, with 87 per cent saying they like to prepare for their trip ahead of time, and three quarters agreeing they want to know all the costs for their trips in advance. Despite this, spusu finds that around three in five agree holidays are often more expensive than what they planned for, and 49 per cent agree that stress can come from using their mobile phone abroad due to the confusion that comes with additional roaming charges and costs. In fact, spusu’s research found that using a mobile phone abroad is considered the third most common source of stress for British holidaymakers.

Across the UK, the top seven sources of holiday stress are:

  1. Planning travel (58 per cent find stressful)
  2. Packing (56 per cent)
  3. Using a mobile phone (49 per cent)
  4. Managing spending money (45 per cent)
  5. Arranging travel insurance (41 per cent)
  6. Converting to local currency (37 per cent)
  7. Using a debit/ credit card (33 per cent)

Despite most travellers wanting to plan their trip and stick to budget, hidden holiday costs can add further stress to people in Yorkshire and Humberside:

  • 27 per cent have been caught out using mobile data to go online
  • 30 per cent have been charged extra for making a call on holiday
  • 21 per cent have been charged extra for sending a text
  • 33 per cent have been charged extra for using a credit or debit card
  • 18 per cent have been charged for going over baggage allowance limit

Since leaving the EU, navigating roaming charges has been expensive and confusing for those unaware of new rules. Previously, travellers could roam in Europe using their existing call, text and data allowances at no extra cost. But post-Brexit, major providers such as EE, Vodafone and Three have re-introduced roaming charges. While costs differ provider-to-provider, many customers are now left with a bill should they use their mobile package while travelling in Europe.

A lack of clarity on roaming charges has already stung many travellers. In July 2023, regulator Ofcom called for mobile companies to do a better job at alerting people about the potential cost for roaming outside of the UK, saying one in five people are currently unaware they face such fees. Ofcom says some network operators are charging customers approximately £2 per day to use their phone abroad, estimated to cost British phone users more than half a billion pounds a year in total.

“As the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite Britain, people deserve a hard-earned break,” said Christian Banhans, UK director of spusu. “However, our research tells us that many are experiencing the opposite feeling. While some pre-holiday stress is unavoidable, measures can be taken to alleviate some of that worry. Mobile operators must be clearer about their roaming costs — to help their customers plan better and to help them avoid any nasty surprises.”

To help holidaymakers enjoy their trips stress-free, spusu is offering customers a summer travel package. For just £9.90, customers who join spusu between 28 July and 10 August, can enjoy the spusu Travel deal, which includes 25GB of data, unlimited calls and texts in the UK with all of the data, and 500 minutes and texts available for roaming in the EU and Switzerland.

spusu’s tips to avoid hidden holiday costs:

  1. Before you go, contact your mobile provider to set up a data use cap.
  2. Make the most of Wi-Fi and turn off roaming when outside your hotel.
  3. Download your sources of entertainment such as Netflix shows and films when you have
    Wi-Fi, so you can watch them offline.
  4. If you’re heading somewhere new, download the maps beforehand so they are available offline.
  5. If you need roaming, turn on your handset’s low data or data saving modes. This will stop your phone naturally using data in the background when you are not using it.