Better mobile broadband needed

Does anyone have any advice about overseas mobile broadband - what to get and who to get it from - in order to get a good quality connection to the internet at a reasonable cost?

I recently spent 8 days overseas in South Africa and West Europe (France, Belgium, Holland, Germany).

Despite being on a (useless) overseas package with two different service providers, the extra cost for the calls and data downloads for two mobile phones and an iPad came to almost £400 above what I normally pay for UK services. For only 8 days!

There must be a better way of organising a mobile broadband package that allows me to travel without rinsing my bank account!

Standard dongles don’t seem to offer adequate quality of connection and when used in Ireland recently, it too got very expensive for little more that email access.

I am shortly to travel to a no broadband part Italy (no humorous quips please) so is there must be a better way of getting tooled up for broadband access?

I am appealing to the iHubbub community for help!