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We are going to be in upwards of 8 countries over 4 months. Is it worth an ESim card or just going with the international phone plan from our carrier?
I used Airalo for the first time a few weeks ago on my trip to Europe, and it was (mostly - see below) a great service.
😡 My Australian carrier's global roaming service totally failed in Denmark and Belgium (I had NO data and got stranded with no internet, maps, etc), so I switched to Airalo after a recommendation from a friend.
😃 Airalo saved the day, and I used it in Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Korea, and Singapore!
I have an iPhone with esim support (be sure to check your phone supports esim!) and the process is really easy to choose a sim and data plan for your country.
There are a couple of quirks with Airalo worth noting:
• Enabling the esim requires an internet connection, which of course you probably won't have when you land in a new country. I found the best way was to either install the esim just prior to arriving, or relying on the Airport WiFI when I arrived.
• Some countries (e.g. in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan) were provided by a foreign carrier (in this case Singtel) so the network speeds were a bit lousy, as all the data seemed to be going via Singapore.
• Some countries require an additional ID check (e.g. drivers license) — this was quite straight forward and handled via the app.
• In some countries (e.g. in Central Asia) I didn't get data initially when I installed the esim. It seemed to take about 15 minutes to finally come online.
👍 Overall, I found Airalo to be a great service and I'm now a great fan! It certainly beat my Australian carrier hands down.
If I was staying longer in a country (e.g. 14+ days) then I would consider getting a local (physical) sim as the speed would be faster and with more data. But for shorter stays, the convenience of Airalo is fantastic.
Hope this feedback helps.
You'll have to try the Nomad Stays eSIM next time Ian. www.nomadstays.com/nomad-marketplace/eSIMs Network quality is one of the bigger issues with eSIMs at present, as is data security.
Nice job Mark! I'll certainly try this out next trip. Who provides your esim service? To clarify, does all the data go via the US when using your esims?
CeliTech are our provider and I don't believe ALL the data goes by via the US.
The security issues are more to do with the account registration & authentication data, and access to any encryption keys remaining secure and not shared with downstream providers or governments. (Let me see if I can get a FAQ created on that point.)
Thank you! This is super helpful. I hadn't realized you had to have a release for your phone so that is good to know!
I used Airalo when I was in Pakistan for three weeks and it worked well. The only issue was that the network carrier changed when I went to the North, but I didn't get another e-sim since I wasn't going to have much of a signal where I was going to be. Maybe your international plan might be easier?
I'm surprised to hear that the different area of the country caused an issue. We are looking into the international plan as well but there is a couple of places that the plan won't work for.
I just used Airalo for about 4 weeks in California. Didn't have any issues and way cheaper than using my regular service provider's international plan. Only thing that annoyed me a bit and it quite possibly could have been user error on how I set it up, but most of my saved contacts weren't being recognised anymore. Might have been because I was running dual sims? But even after I finished using the eSim and I had switched it off my contact names weren't being recognised in my messages and call history. Had to mess around a little bit to get things back to normal.
Something to remember about most of these eSims are that they are data only and you won't have a phone number. So all calls need to be wifi calls or using WhatsApp or something similar.
All up I thought it was good value.
Oh, interesting! I would be curious if that has to do with the original way it was setup. My understanding is you technically don't have a phone number per se when using an ESim. I would be curious what type of phone you have? We both have IPhones.
I have an iPhone 11.
That is correct. Your eSim generally won't have a phone number (unless you get an eSim with a local carrier). But my carrier in Australia lets me receive calls and text overseas (just not send them myself), so I wanted to keep my number active while I was away. So I was technically running 2 sims at the same time. When you do this it gives you options on which will be the default sim used to call or text and I think this is where the mix up with my contacts happened.
We used Airalo in Southeast Asia and were happy with it. Did a review and compare post on Airalo vs. Nomad eSIMs here: intentionaltravelers.com/airalo-vs-nomad-asia-esim-review/
Great post! Thanks for sharing : )