Is there anything worse than coming home after an eye-opening trip abroad only to receive an enormous roaming bill? Or, have you ever lost phone service or connectivity while travelling in what feels like the worst possible moment? Only to leave you desperately searching for free WiFi so that you can send that quick email? Or, to avoid those two, have you ever spent time in the airport anxiously looking for a SIM vendor? The time that could have been spent exploring the city?
I know I have. Getting a stable connection while abroad can often feel like a necessary evil of travelling, no matter how much you try to prepare beforehand. That is until I discovered an eSIM for travel. Suddenly, travelling abroad became a lot easier.
If you keep reading, there is also an Airalo voucher/discount code below!
What is an eSIM?
An eSIM is a digital SIM card. They allow you to activate and download data packs directly to your device without using a physical SIM card—no more desperately searching the airport for an appropriate vendor!
Three Reasons Why I Switched to a Travel e-SIM?
I last purchased a physical SIM card in Fez, Morocco, in October 2022. Our hotel manager, Abdul, happily assisted us in buying the Maroc Telecom SIM card from a little shop in the Medina. It was inexpensive since he paid “local prices” on our behalf. He then took us to another shop in the Medina to top-up (add funds) to the SIM card. We happily went on our merry way, and after a couple of days, it suddenly stopped working.
Little did we know we were using the data included in our SIM card purchase. The top-up funds were never applied. Luckily, Abdul was available to translate and helped as best he could. We went back and forth between vendors and visited a small Maroc Telecom store in town. The SIM still would not work, and Fez Maroc Telecom could not determine why. Since our time was up in Fez and we were moving to the next city in our itinerary, they suggested we visit a larger Maroc Telecom store for assistance.
After what seemed like hours, they finally got it working, but we lost so much time, which was frustrating!
For our India adventure through the Golden Triangle in 2020, I researched online that buying a physical SIM card at Delhi International Airport would be super simple and affordable. Upon our arrival, there were multiple vendors at the airport. We went directly to the Airtel kiosk, and after waiting in line, we purchased an Airtel SIM card. Simple, but here’s where things went awry. We were paying in Rupees, but the gentleman at the desk gave me the wrong change. We pointed out his error, and he apologized but short-changed us again. We were tired from the long flight, but not THAT tired that we couldn’t do the math. We pointed out the error again; his demeanour changed, and he tossed the correct number of rupees on the counter in a huff.
We took our SIM card and went off to a corner of the airport to install it into my cell phone to ensure it worked properly, and the SIM wouldn’t connect.
We then had to go back to the same gentleman for assistance. He grumbled and exchanged the SIM card for another one. We went back to our corner and tried again, and it worked.
I was thankful that I took the time to install it at the airport and ensured it worked before we left the airport for our hotel. But it made me wonder if he purposefully gave me a faulty SIM card in the first place. The whole experience took time and left a sour impression on me at the start of our trip.
Looking for more tips for travelling in India? Read the article Pro Travel Tips for Travel in India for a Stress-Free Trip
While travelling on a Norwegian Cruise through the Canary Islands in 2019, I decided to use free WiFi everywhere. I wasn’t concerned about security since I have a VPN app on my phone (Virtual Private Network secure connection). I wanted to stay off the grid, but being self-employed, I needed to check emails. Of course, I also needed to update my family on our whereabouts occasionally.
Accessing WiFi in hotels is relatively secure, especially with the addition of the VPN, since you are typically provided with a password.
Where everything went wrong with my plan was that I started using WiFi in coffee shops and other public spaces like museums. Often, to log in, I had to sign in using my Facebook account or email address. It could be an unfortunate coincidence, but I now get so much spam in my inbox that it’s ridiculous! I’ve since created an alternate Gmail address for just this purpose.
What is Airalo?
Airalo is the first eSIM store that gives you access to eSIMs, with digital data packs from over 200 countries and regions. With Airalo, you can connect within minutes of landing anywhere in the world.
To be clear, there are multiple other eSIM brands out there. Your home cell plan provider may even offer a travel eSIM plan! But I’ve used Airalo numerous times in the USA and the Caribbean and highly recommend them. The key when deciding which eSIM brand to use is to check prices/plans and check the popularity/coverage of the local telecom provider.
Airalo offers the ability to get local data, no change in phone number, and easy top-ups at affordable prices. You can also store eSIMs, meaning you can buy them in advance and activate them when you’re at your destination.
Why use an eSIM vs a physical SIM card?
- You can pre-purchase the eSIM at home using the Airalo mobile app or via the Airalo website comfortably and securely.
- You can install the eSIM into your phone from the comfort of your home. Most eSIMs activate when your phone accesses the network at your destination.
- No need to waste time searching for a kiosk to top-up funds during your trip.
- Make your purchase and troubleshoot any issues in English (or 22 other languages).
- SIM cards need to be manually inserted and taken out. In contrast, eSIM cards are already embedded in your phone and can be activated remotely. This also removes the fear of losing the eSIM, unlike the common occurrence with physical SIM cards.
- eSIM cards are also traditionally more secure.
Airalo eSim Compatible Phones?
It is important to note that eSIMs only work on eSIM-compatible devices. Luckily, most recent phones and devices made in 2018 and after usually have eSIMs embedded, meaning they are compatible. However, ensure you double-check that your cell phone is compatible; Airalo helpfully has a blog post with instructions on how to tell if your particular phone (like an iPhone, Android, Google Pixel, Samsung, or Huawei) is compatible here. I have a newer iPhone and had no problems installing and using the Airalo eSIM; however, my husband Ray uses an older Android phone that isn’t incompatible.
How does Airalo work?
An eSIM is essentially an “embedded SIM card” built into your phone’s hardware. Since it is reprogrammable, it allows you to download data plans on the go. Most devices allow you to download multiple plans, say if you are based in Canada and travelling to Europe via the USA, turning each one on and off depending on your location. The Airalo app provides a marketplace to access eSIM cards worldwide, with prices starting at $4.50 USD.
Airalo eSim Installation
When choosing an eSIM, Airalo recommends a few things to keep in mind and consider. For example, how much data you would like preloaded onto the card, how long you would like to use the card (7 days, 15 days, 30 days, etc.), the value of the package, and the countries/regions where you can use the card. Additionally, many eSIM cards have a top-up option if you need more data or days if you are running low.
To install the eSIM, Airalo will email you instructions after your purchase. The only thing to remember is to ensure you have a stable WiFi connection during the installation process. There are three methods to install the eSIM: directly (from the Airalo app), scan a QR code, or manually in your device’s settings. You also have the opportunity to label your eSIM; naming it something like “Germany eSIM” or “Airalo Europe” is helpful if you plan on having multiple eSIMs.
eSIMs can either activate immediately upon installation or when you connect to the mobile network at your destination; it is essential to read the activation policy in the package details beforehand.
Then, all you have to do is connect to a network! The Airalo website provides instructions here depending on whether you have an iOS or Android phone.
Airalo Referral Code for a $3US discount
Here’s my Airalo Referral Code MARY3681
- If you use my Airalo discount code, you’ll receive a $3 US discount on your first purchase. I’ll also receive a $3 US credit in my account. It’s a win-win for both of us!
The Airalo eSIM truly feels like it is an eSIM for travellers. It’s fast, efficient, and easy to use. The global company also values the safety, health, sustainability, and well-being of others. With their own Children’s Fund (a collaboration with a non-profit child sponsorship organization), actions to reduce their carbon footprint, and sponsorships to provide clean water, Airalo is a company you trust and want to support.
I know that I am a fan. I encourage everyone to try Airalo out, especially if you, like me, have had too many SIM card issues abroad. With Airalo, that’s in the past, and I can focus on my trip.