What is the best eSIM for International Travel? The short answer, it depends on what you favor. Cost-effectiveness or ease of use.
As you gear up for your next adventure, I am here to guide you in picking the best eSIM and eSIM apps for international travel. No fluff, just real advice from someone who has been in the trenches of the digital world. No one likes being stranded in an unfamiliar place with no way to connect. Been there, done that. Hope you don’t have to.
As one of the driving forces behind Mysterium Network, I’ve been involved in shaping the future of internet connectivity since 2017. From code to a global node network, my experience has crafted a censorship-resistant layer for the internet. My insights, shared on platforms like Hacker Noon and Coin Desk, can give you a sense of my previous work.
But enough about me…This is about YOU! And how you stay digitally connected while you explore new lands.
Whether you are a digital nomad or a leisure traveler, the right eSIM can be your unfailing companion. This guide will unveil the top contenders in the market today that promise to make connectivity during your international travel, a breeze.
The best eSIM for international travel
The right eSIM gives you broad coverage, adaptable plans, and smooth connectivity, meaning your favorite people are just a message away.
🔥 Hot Tip:
While on the hunt for the best eSIM, look out for those little extras that can make a big difference. I’m talking about features like data rollover, letting your unused data transfer to your next plan. It’s a small detail that can save you cash and keep your connection steady.
In this guide, I’ve sifted through MOST of options to the best eSIM for international travel. Let’s dive in!
What is an eSIM?
An “eSIM” or “embedded SIM” is a modern alternative to the traditional physical SIM cards that we’ve been using for years. Instead of inserting a tangible SIM card into your phone, an eSIM allows for the cellular plan to be activated over the internet, directly integrated into your device.
Enhanced security features
Ideal for travelers
Limited availability Network lock-in by carriers
Not all devices support eSIM technology
Emerging technology glitches
Understanding this innovative tech is the first step in making an informed decision on the best eSIM app for international travel.
Should I get an eSIM?
“Should I get an eSIM?” Honestly, I don’t see why not. They are far more convenient than their traditional cousins. So the question shouldn’t so much be a matter of “Should I get an eSIM?” as it should be “Which eSIM is the best for me?”
For those of you who remained unconvinced (queuing up for SIM cards at the airport, wasting precious holiday minutes…)
Here is a list of reasons why eSIMs are a more convenient choice than traditional SIM cards.
- Switch between local and international plans effortlessly
- Avoid steep roaming charges without forgoing easy connectivity
- Sometimes, eSIM plans can offer more competitive pricing (we’ll get into that in this guide)
- Connectivity assurance with robust network coverage
So you tell me…should you get an eSIM?
Can you use an eSIM internationally?
Absolutely, yes! This is literally why they exist! To bridge international mobile internet connectivity
Worldwide Network Coverage
Most eSIM providers offer extensive network coverage globally, ensuring that you remain connected, be it in the bustling streets of Tokyo or the serene landscapes of New Zealand.
Cost-Effective International Plans
One of the standout features is the availability of cost-effective international plans. You have the liberty to choose from a variety of plans that suit your budget, steering clear of those exorbitant roaming charges that conventional SIM cards impose.
Plan Bundles Built For Travelers
As you move from one country to another, eSIMs allow a smooth transition between local, regional and international plans, ensuring that you always have the best connectivity options at your fingertips.
Local Carrier Connectivity
eSIM providers often aggregate local internet providers, so you will have the connectivity you would most likely get from a local SIM.
In case of emergencies or sudden plan changes, you can activate or alter your eSIM plan with the taps of a few buttons.A flexible and responsive way to stay connected.
Embracing eSIM technology for international travel is a NO BRAINER choice. Constant, reliable network connection ftw.
Can any phone use an eSIM?
While the advent of eSIMs has indeed revolutionized the realm of connectivity, it comes with its own set of prerequisites in terms of device compatibility. Let’s explore this:
Many modern smartphones, including most of the iPhone series (from iPhone XS onwards) and the latest Android devices, come equipped with eSIM technology, making it a convenient option for travelers armed with recent phone models.
Limited to Certain Models
However, it is essential to note that eSIM technology is not universally adaptable to all phone models. Older devices and some budget smartphones do not support this feature.
Hybrid Dual SIM Options
Most smartphones offer a hybrid solution, supporting both a physical SIM and an eSIM,.This dual SIM functionality can be especially beneficial, allowing you to juggle between your home number and a local number while traveling.
Before purchasing an eSIM, check your device with the eSIM service you are considering. Most providers detail the compatible devices on their websites.
- Airalo Device Compatibility
- Holafly Device Compatibility
- Nomad Device Compatibility
- Simify Device Compatibility
- Drimsim Device Compatibility
With technology advancing at a breakneck pace, I’m gonna assume upcoming smartphone models will increasingly support eSIM technology. My unpopular opinion: the traditional SIM cards will be phased out making the world a more connected place.
🔥 Hot Tip:
Before heading out on your solo adventure, take a moment to update your smartphone’s software to the latest version to ensure optimal eSIM functionality. Save a backup of your important data to the cloud. No one likes lost memories.
What is an eSIM?
Hold up everything is moving too faaaaast.. What exactly is an eSIM?
An eSIM, or embedded SIM, is a modern adaptation of the traditional SIM card, where SIM technology is integrated directly into your device, eliminating the need for a physical SIM card.
Unlike physical SIM cards that require a slot in your device, eSIMs are built into your smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch. eSIMs are digital SIMs that hold all the necessary information to connect to your network provider.
Ease of Use
eSIM technology spells convenience. Switch between network providers effortlessly, without the need to physically replace SIM cards around.
Setting up an eSIM is relatively straightforward. Generally, you would scan a QR code provided by your network carrier to activate the eSIM, following which you can manage your network preferences through your device settings.
Adopting eSIM technology means stepping into the future, where streamlined processes and enhanced connectivity are a given. It also means moving towards a more environmentally friendly solution by reducing plastic waste generated from physical SIM cards.
Is an eSIM the best option for you?
You might be pondering – is an eSIM the best option for you?
eSIMs undeniably bring forth a futuristic and convenient approach to staying connected during your travels. However, they come with a set of limitations that could influence your decision. Here is an honest look at the advantages and disadvantages of eSIMs.
- Simplified Experience: The convenience of not having to change physical SIM cards, especially when you are hopping between countries, cannot be overstated. Have you lost your SIM card before and had to navigate a 2FA from across the globe…I have. I advise against it..
- Security: eSIMs are less susceptible to damage compared to physical SIM cards.
- Eco-Friendly: Moving towards eSIMs is a step in the green direction, reducing unnecessary plastic waste.
- Limited Compatibility: Not all smartphones support eSIM technology.
- Carrier Restrictions: Some network providers might impose restrictions, limiting your flexibility to change plans swiftly.
- Setup Process: The setup process for eSIMs vary between carriers, sometimes involving a few more steps than installing a physical SIM card.
🔥 Hot Tip:
When considering an eSIM, make a note of the countries you plan to visit and check the network providers’ eSIM services in those regions. Compare getting multiple country plans versus a regional plan. Before selecting the regional plan make sure it covers all the countries you’re hitting so you’re not stuck without data all of a sudden.
The best eSIM providers for travel
When traveling, staying connected is a priority. Identifying a reliable eSIM provider can be a game-changer for your travel experience.
Here we breakdown some of the top eSIM providers you might consider:
Related: Airalo Vs Holafly – Who Wins?
Airalo – Convenience Meets Cost Effectiveness
In the quickly growing landscape of eSIM providers, Airalo stands tall. Known for reliable and cost-effective connectivity solutions for travelers venturing across various corners of the globe. Given its widespread network spanning over 190 countries, Airalo comes highly recommended. Especially for those of you looking to maintain seamless connectivity without breaking the bank. Cause this sh***t adds up. Let’s explore the detailed offerings that place Airalo as a preferred choice for general usage.
Best for General Use
I find myself frequently opting for Airalo, especially given my focus on mobile data over call options. To offer you a more detailed insight, let’s examine what Airalo brings to the table in various regions:
- Greece: In a picturesque setting like Greece, staying connected through Airalo won’t break the bank. They offer a 30-day plan with a generous 10GB data allowance for just US$25. This package could be your ally in sharing those breathtaking sunset photos from Santorini, or keeping your GPS on as you navigate the historical streets of Athens.
- Global: Airalo shines brightly for those of us who prioritize data. They have carved a niche for themselves with competitively priced data-centric packages globally. However, it’s crucial to note that their offerings primarily focus on data, sidelining call options. This makes them a stellar choice for those who prefer browsing and streaming over voice calls.
So, if your smartphone habits lean more towards data usage — think streaming, browsing, and utilizing messaging apps — rather than traditional voice calls, Airalo could potentially be your go-to eSIM provider for general use.
Pros & Cons of Airalo
- Operates in 190+ countries, promising wide coverage.
- A range of short-term and long-term plans to suit varied travel durations.
- Reasonable pricing across local, regional, and global plans.
- Commendable customer service, responsive and efficient in addressing issues.
- The unavailability of unlimited data plans might be a downer for some.
- I had some minor glitches in the past, but it’s noteworthy that their customer support was always swift to rectify them.
An In-depth Analysis of Airalo’s Offerings
Drawing from my deep dive into a BUNCH of eSIM providers, Airalo brings forth some of the most competitive packages in the market. Collaborating with local telecom companies globally, they are a fair middleman, offering you more data at a lower price point for, and the convenience of substantial local coverage in a plethora of countries at your fingertips.
For instance, if we dive deep into the cost metrics in ten popular countries, you will notice a consistent trend of cost-effectiveness coupled with reliable service. Especially in locations like Thailand, Airalo offers enticing short-period unlimited data-only packages, albeit misleading as I have definitely managed to run out of data on that one (but then again, I am a power user).
Adding to its rich portfolio are the regional and global eSIM plans that facilitate connectivity across groups of countries. Particularly beneficial for travelers exploring multiple nations within a single trip.
Related: Airalo eSIM Review – Deep Dive
🔥 Hot Tip:
Before settling on a package, I recommend checking out Airalo’s regional offerings, which might present you with unrivaled value, especially if your travel itinerary includes multiple countries situated closely.
Holafly – You Pay For Convenience
Holafly enters the eSIM market promising transparency and simplicity. No hidden charges and complicated setups is the promised land.
Let’s delve deeper into what makes Holafly different, and what type of traveler it’s better suited to.
Best for Unlimited Data
If you are a HEAVY consumer of the internet… Holafly is a strong contender. Holafly offers plans with generous data allowances along with calling options. Here’s a closer examination of some of their specific offerings:
- Thailand: The 10-day unlimited data plan priced at US$64 holds its own, despite facing stiff competition from Airalo and Nomad concerning price and duration.
- Europe & UK: They present an attractive proposition with a 30-day package encompassing 15GB data and unlimited local calls at US$40, evidently offering a better deal compared to Airalo.
- Immediate connectivity with instant eSIM delivery via email.
- Coverage spanning over 130 countries.
- Availability of both short-term and long-term plans.
- A wide array of unlimited data options.
- Somewhat swift customer support, responding within just 19 minutes during my inquiry. Am I impatient?
- While they offer a rich assortment of unlimited data plans,I’ve heard that data speeds might diminish over extensive usage.
- Limited hotspot functionality across several plans, restricting tethering options for users.
A Closer Look at Holafly’s Offerings
Holafly is a worthwhile option offering a multitude of unlimited plans, a boon for data-intensive travelers. I also love that they have a wide range of durations ranging from a short span of 5 days to extensive plans extending over 90 days. Hence, regardless of the length of your trip, there’s probably a custom fit plan for you.
However, when positioned against rivals like Nomad and Airalo, Holafly’s offerings appear relatively pricier. Not to mention, the restriction on the hotspot facility in most unlimited plans presents a notable downside, especially for digital nomads reliant on consistent internet connectivity.
Holafly’s Regional Plans
These are CLEARLY pegged at a higher price bracket, demanding a substantial investment compared to what’s out in the market. Pay a close eye to the cost and inclusions of these regional plans to ensure they align with your requirements and budget.
🔥 Hot Tip:
Before settling on a Holafly plan, make sure to dive deep into the details of their country-specific and regional offerings. Not only will this help you secure the fastest data speeds but also ensure you stick to your budget. For a richer understanding of the internet landscape and to aid in making informed decisions, you might consider picking up a copy of “The Innovators” by Walter Isaacson, which offers a comprehensive look into the people and stories behind the digital revolution. This read can equip you with the backdrop necessary to navigate the complex world of digital connectivity with ease.
Nomad – A Happy Blend of Cost-effective and Reliable
Nomad is a reliable connectivity ally.
Let’s dive into why Nomad might be a worthy contender for your eSIM requirements.
Nomad secures your connectivity without breaking the bank. Emerging as a vanguard in affordability, it offers impressive data plans in different regions:
- Greece: A 30-day plan with a 10GB data allowance at only US$19, portraying it as a financially smarter option compared to Airalo.
- Thailand:A 10-day unlimited data package for just US$30, slightly undercutting Holafly’s offering in the region.
- An expansive reach with plans available in over 100 countries.
- Availability of regional and global plans to suit diverse travel patterns.
- A user-friendly modern website facilitating easy navigation.
- Options of unlimited data plans in selected destinations.
- A suspicious abundance of 5-star reviews on the website
- Limited to short-term plans with a maximum duration of 30 days.
A Deep Dive into Nomad’s Offerings
Nomad offers some of the best rates out there! Seems their persistent efforts to forge alliances with local telecommunications players globally has paid off…for you.
However, a notable downside remains their dependency on Truphone for eSIM plans in several regions, putting a cap on the diversity and competitiveness of their offerings. The silver lining appears with their recent collaborations with AIS in Thailand and Telkomsel in Indonesia, setting the stage for faster and economically priced data-only plans.
Regional Plans Unveiled
Nomad displays a commitment to enhanced connectivity through its thoughtful assembly of regional plans, each catering to different geographical stretches, including:
- South East Asia & Oceania (SEA-Oceania)
While European carriers impress with speedy connections, the APAC plan offers coverage of up to 16 countries, making it a logical choice for anyone visiting multiple APAC nations within a month.
Navigating the Nomad App
One of Nomad’s standout features is its immaculately designed app. The seamless installation process, guided by step-by-step instructions, makes getting set up and connected super easy.
In my interactions with Nomad’s customer support through the app, I found them to be responsive and helpful, addressing queries promptly and to satisfaction.
Nomad garners a special place in my recommendations, merging affordability with a user-friendly platform, thereby enriching your travel experiences with uncompromised connectivity.
Simify – For the Traveler on the Phone…
Simify champions voice connectivity and offers packages that provide remarkable value, especially if you prefer a verbal check-in over a text update...anyone heard of VoiP lol.
Simify seems to be clinging to the bygone era where voice calls were the norm, attempting to entice travelers who prefer voice calls over the practicality and versatility of instant messaging and other modern communication avenues. The company somewhat amusingly champions VoIP – a service many might regard as antiquated in the age where most communication happens over texts, memes, and instant video connections.
While it tries to carve a niche in focusing on voice connectivity, it frankly misses the mark in the fast-paced, data-driven world we live in today. Let’s be honest, in a world burgeoning with digital nomads and tech-savvy travelers, a service concentrating mainly on calls feels incredibly outdated.
Not Really the Best for Phone Calls
Simify stubbornly positions itself as a service for those who prioritize voice connectivity, offering plans that integrate call options with data packages. Sadly, this focus feels misplaced and out of touch with the modern traveler’s needs. Here are some specifics:
- Europe & UK: They offer a 30-day package that includes unlimited local calls for $40. But let’s face it, in the era of WhatsApp and FaceTime, who really needs unlimited local calls? Compared to what companies like Airalo offer, this seems like a lesser deal.
- USA: Simify tries to stand out with a 30-day unlimited data and local calls package for $50. But in a market where versatile data plans reign supreme, does this offering truly hold water?
- Global Connectivity: Simify claims to keep you connected in various regions worldwide, albeit mainly through voice connectivity.
- Focus on Calls: The service takes a divergent path, focusing on call packages that feel more nostalgic than practical in today’s context.
- Lackluster Data Packages: Simify tragically falls short in offering robust data packages, a facet that is virtually indispensable for the modern traveler.
- Outdated Focus: In the grand scheme of things, focusing predominantly on calls in this digital age appears not just outdated but also significantly limiting for users who need more comprehensive solutions.
Drimsim – eSIMs for Drim Dums
When it comes to universal connectivity without the complications of varying plans and changing SIMs, Drimsim steps in.
Presenting a simplicity that is both refreshing and essential, especially for the occasional traveler. Its transparent pricing and easy setup remove decision paralysis.
Best for Occasional Use
Drimsim is the optimal choice for those who travel sporadically and are looking for a no-fuss solution for short-term stays. With plans devised to cater to basic connectivity needs, it eschews the intricacies of extensive data or call features.
Instead Drimsim provides a straightforward service that does what it says. If your travel itinerary involves short and intermittent stays, Drimsim offers plans that precisely cater to such patterns, providing essential connectivity without getting bogged down with additional features that you might not need.
- Universal SIM: One SIM to connect you wherever you go, adapting to different regions and saving you the trouble of changing SIMs as you travel.
- Straightforward Pricing: With Drimsim, what you see is what you get. The pricing structure is uncomplicated, letting you know upfront what you are paying for without hidden charges.
- Easy Setup: Get started without any hassles, thanks to a setup process designed with user-friendliness in mind.
- Ideal for Short-term Use: If you are not a frequent traveler or if your travels involve short stays, Drimsim emerges as the sensible choice offering plans tuned to meet short-term connectivity needs.
- Limited Features: While the simplicity is a boon for occasional users, those looking for comprehensive plans with a rich set of features might find Drimsim somewhat lacking.
- Not Suitable for Heavy Data Users: If your usage involves heavy data consumption, Drimsim might not be the ideal choice, as it primarily focuses on basic connectivity solutions.
Drimsim comes forward as the pragmatic choice for the occasional traveler, embodying simplicity and transparency in its offerings.
A local telco
Exploring the local telecommunications providers at your travel destination is often the cheapest option. But they rarely offer eSIMs and you will have to fiddle around with traditional SIMs..
Best for Long Term
For travelers embarking on an extended stay, choosing a local telecom provider is a no brainer. It’s often the most cost effective.
- Tailored Packages: Local telecom providers often offer packages that are customized to suit the specific needs and preferences of the region, helping you avoid paying for services you don’t need.
- Competitive Rates: By choosing a local provider, you are likely to find plans that are competitively priced, giving you the best value for your money.
Best eSIM for International Travel – The Verdict
Drumroll please 🥁… I’m absolutely thrilled to crown Holafly and Airalo as the go-to eSIM providers for our fab international explorers!
Let’s talk Holafly, the superstar for the heavy internet users among us. Those who can’t resist sharing every magical moment on their Insta stories, this is your match made in heaven! Dig deeper into the wonders of Holafly right here. 🌐💖
And then we have the magnificent Airalo, a true gem for the general user, especially if your thing is to have data at your fingertips without breaking the bank. Trust me, honey, this is a game-changer for all the chic travelers out there. Find out all about Airalo’s fabulous offerings here. 💃📱
But remember, the best eSIM is the one that vibes with your unique travel style. So whether you’re team Holafly or team Airalo, just go with the one that feels right, you know? Check out this cool side-by-side comparison to help you decide.
And there you have it, my travel-loving friends! Whether you’re heading to a tropical paradise or a buzzing cityscape, with Holafly or Airalo, you’re all set to conquer the world, while staying fabulously connected! Safe travels and don’t forget to share those stunning snaps with the world! 🌍💖