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If you're busy planning an exciting multi-country trip, you want reliable international phone service you can count on.
Travel eSIMs provide a convenient solution for accessing local networks while abroad. This handy technology eliminates the need to rush around trying to find a local SIM card at each location you visit.
Below, you'll find your guide to choosing the best global eSIM for your next trip. Plus, I'll give you my top recommendations and answer some frequently asked questions.
Best overall global travel eSIM
Airalo is one of the most well-known names in travel eSIMs, and for good reason - it partners with major local networks in over 200 destinations to provide reliable mobile internet access for travelers.
Of course, no one international eSIM is perfect for every customer. Below, you'll find what we consider to be the pros and cons of Airalo.
- 200+ countries
- 7 days-3 months validity period
- Prices start around $5 for one week
- Local, regional, or global plans
- Flexible eSIMs - add voice and text
- Great coverage
- Mobile hotspot usage
- Prices drop the more data you buy
- Phone number included with Discover+ plans
- eSIM automatically connects to the fastest local network
- User-friendly Airalo app and website
- Fast, helpful customer support
- Can't mix-and-match data size and validity period
- Customer service is only available by message
While it isn't the cheapest option, Airalo eSIM is a solid choice with offerings to fit various needs. Plus, they have the advantage of being highly recognizable, with an impressive customer count of over five million people.
When it comes to globe-trotting, you're probably already aware that finding an international eSIM with an extended expiry date can be challenging.
Eskimo stands out compared to its competitors by offering passes that last up to two years, depending on which plan you choose:
- Individual country eSIM: 180 days
- Regional eSIM: 365 days
- Global eSIM: 2 years
There are some things to consider regarding the pros and cons of an Eskimo eSIM.
- Mexico, North America, or Global
- 1 GB - 30 GB
- 6 months - 2 years validity period
- Prices start at $6
- Long validity periods
- Borderless functionality
- Easy top-up process
- Mobile hotspot usage
- Data sharing with anyone
- No data speed throttling or daily limits
- Hassle-free refund if unable to connect/install
- 80+ countries included, fewer than some providers
- No phone number is included
While cheaper options are available - for example, an Eskimo global plan with 10 GB costs $39 - the generous expiration period can be worth it for extended travels. That means no annoying monthly renewals, so you can go wherever the road takes you and know you'll stay connected.
SIM2Fly offers a flexible global eSIM that you can keep active for up to a year. This Thailand-based provider covers 140 countries, in your choice of regional or global packages.
Another advantage of SIM2Fly's global eSIM is that you get a Thai phone number with your plan. This is especially useful if Thailand is one of the stops on your world tour.
In addition to its global plans, this provider sells an eSIM that's good for six months and lets you add your own plan. This feature makes it super flexible if you're a digital nomad who hasn't written your itinerary in stone.
Here's what to know about AIS SIM2Fly, plus some advantages and drawbacks.
- 140+ destinations covered
- Good for up to a year at a time
- 1GB - 15GB data per plan
- Pricing starts at $4
- Regional & global plans
- Competitive global rates
- Phone number included
- Mobile hotspot permitted
- Long validity period
- Customer support by phone
- The website is a bit confusing
- No single-country plans
What is a travel eSIM?
A travel eSIM functions as a digital SIM card, allowing your phone to connect to cellular networks worldwide.
When it comes to embedded SIM cards, device compatibility is essential. Many popular smartphones, including the iPhone 13 and newer, as well as various Android devices, now support eSIM technology.
Important note: To use a travel eSIM plan, your phone must be carrier-unlocked. Contact your carrier if you need help unlocking your device.
How travel eSIMs work
Setting up an embedded SIM is a straightforward process. Your chosen provider will send you a QR code. You can either scan the QR code using another phone or print it out and scan it upon arrival. Scanning the code will prompt you to install the eSIM profile.
The great thing is that once your eSIM is activated, your phone will automatically connect to the closest mobile networks.
Why should I get an eSIM for international travel?
- Convenience: Skip the kiosks and vending machines with instant activation. Effortlessly manage your travel data plan directly on your mobile phone, typically via the provider's mobile app.
- Cost-effectiveness: Save money on international roaming charges from your home carrier. Enjoy global coverage with no surprises.
- Flexibility: Conveniently access your different plans at will. Transition seamlessly between your local SIM card and travel plan without swapping physical SIM cards.
- Security: Embedded SIM cards offer a higher level of security in comparison to physical SIM cards because they are not removable. That means they can't be lost or stolen. This guarantees superior protection for your personal data.
How to choose the best global eSIM
It can be a little overwhelming to navigate the wide range of plans available from different providers. Start your search by looking at your itinerary and which specific features you need.
When deciding on the best global eSIM for yourself, there are several important factors to take into account.
Various global eSIM providers offer a wide range of covered countries. For example, Airalo covers 130 countries, while Eskimo offers 84. So, check over your plan's country list to verify you'll have coverage everywhere you go.
How much data do you need?
There are various packages to choose from, typically ranging from 1 GB to 30 GB. Some providers charge by the GB; that way, you can decide on the amount of data you need as you go.
Also, take into consideration whether you'll want to use your phone as a mobile hotspot. Many service providers offer the option to share data with other devices.
Do you intend to limit your data usage? Do your accommodations offer Wi-Fi for data-intensive activities? Make sure to estimate your daily data usage before purchasing a plan.
Length of your trip
If you're going to travel for a long time, validity periods are crucial. You can choose from a wide range of options, from a few days to two years. Choose a plan that will last you through your voyage so that you don't have to top up all the time.
Pay attention to when the validity period countdown begins as well. Although the activation of certain eSIMs triggers the countdown, others start upon connecting to a mobile network outside your home country.
Do you need international calling?
Some travel eSIMs include an international phone number, allowing you to make and receive calls while traveling. If you need voice minutes to contact your home country, ensure this feature is included in the package.
If you choose a data eSIM without voice minutes, there are still good options for phone calls. You can use third-party apps and Wi-Fi calling to make international calls and send text messages. It is important to note that these apps will consume mobile data from your travel plan.
Best global eSIM FAQs
Recap - What's the best global eSIM?
Going on an international adventure is a thrilling experience. You want your phone service squared away so you can enjoy the sights without any hassles.
A global eSIM allows you to communicate, navigate maps, and post to social media, regardless of where your journey takes you.
For more great options, check out our guide to the best eSIMs for international travel.