Traveling nowadays has become a lot easier, thanks to the internet and mobile data. Gone are the days where you have to wander around lost as you can do practically everything using your mobile phone.
In this article, I want to talk about using eSIM for travel. To be perfectly honest, I actually didn’t know what an e-sim was until a few weeks ago. In every country we visit, we would usually buy a local sim card and use it during our time there.
This works when you’re in a place for a couple of months but can become cumbersome given that we travel a lot. Also, buying multiple packets of sim cards isn’t the most cost-effective / waste friendly option.
So in my efforts to make our travels as efficient and environmentally friendly friendly as possible, I started looking at eSIMS.
Introducing eSIM: What is an eSIM?
First of all, let’s cover the basics. An eSIM is a digital sim card that gives you mobile coverage, without having to insert a physical sim card to your phone. As soon as you purchase the e-sim, you get a QR code delivered to your email and can immediately set it up.
For those that want to get technical, eSIM stands for Embedded Subscriber Identity Module. Now that we got that out of the way, how exactly does it work?
We were wondering ourselves so we partnered with HolaFly to see for ourselves how eSIMs work and see if it is something we would use in our travels.
How Does an eSIM Work?
Step 1: Check if your phone is compatible?
So the first step is to see if the technology behind your phone is actually compatible with the eSIM technology. Here is a list of phones that work with eSIM. In our case, I just picked up the new iPhone so I knew that it was compatible.
Make sure that you check the compatibility first before picking up an eSIM. Your phone will also have to be unlocked to make use of eSIMS so make sure you consider this before picking up a simcard.
For reference, phones that are compatible with an eSIM card (from the time of this article):
Apple iPhone SE, XR, XS, XS Max, 11 (all models), 12 (all models), 13 (all models), Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, S20 Ultra, Note 20, Note 20 Ultra 5G, S21, S21 +5G, S21 + Ultra 5G Fold, Z Fold 5G and Z Flip. Huawei P40, P40 Pro and Mate 40 Pro, Google Pixel 2, 3, 4 and 5. Motorola Razr, Motorola Razr 2019 Nuu Mobile X5, Gemini PDA, Rakuten Mini, Oppo Find X3 Pro, Oppo Reno 5A.
Step 2: Purchase E-Sim Card for Travel
I wanted to test out the e-sim for myself and as soon as I had purchased my plan, a QR code was sent to my email. Holafly covers multiple destinations all over the world so depending on where you are traveling to, you had coverage.
Similar to mobile data plans, you can choose a package depending on where you are going. You can also choose a plan, depending on the number of days you need coverage for. Some plans are valid for 5 days while others are valid for 30 days. Let’s say you were traveling to the US, here’s a sample of the packages for eSIM for the US.
This is perfect for us as often, we find ourselves transiting in a place for 5 days at a time and I always hate having to buy a local simcard for just a few days.
Step 3: Install the QR Code and Activate Your Plan
Once you’ve chosen your plan, you can go ahead and scan the QR code and it will immediately activate your plan. They recommend doing this 1 day before your travels. This means that when you get to your chosen destination, you will have mobile data straight away.
I can’t stress how important this is as oftentimes, as soon as we land, the first thing we do is try to connect to the internet in order to figure out transportation to our hotel/ Airbnb. Having this instant access to mobile data as soon as we arrive is pretty useful.
Benefits of using an eSIM?
For me, one of the main benefits of using an eSIM (such as Holafly or Nomad App) is the reduction of plastic waste. As mentioned above, I hate having to buy and discard multiple sim cards, especially when we are moving around different destinations.
In Europe particularly, Holafly allows you to get one simcard which you can use in all these countries: United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania, Portugal, Norway, Netherlands, Malta, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Latvia, Italy, Ireland, Hungary, Greece, Germany, Georgia, France, Finland, Estonia, Denmark, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Belgium, Austria, Armenia, and Jersey.
I also love the fact that when landing, you already have immediate access to mobile data, making sure you can find directions to your hotel, make any booking changes, arrange for transportation, and more.
You can get an eSIM for more than 60 destinations around the world which is pretty good! Another thing that we like is that the eSIM allows you to tether and use your hotspot. This is big for us as we often work on the go and being able to connect our computers to a mobile hotspot is a huge plus.
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Overall Thoughts on Holafly
Overall, I am pretty amazed at the concept behind eSIMS. I love how it removes a lot of the pain points behind buying local sim cards for each destination as well as helping reduce the amount of plastic waste when we travel.
When we tested the product and service, we received a data plan for 8GB which was valid for 30 days. The product worked exactly as advertised and was immediately useable. Holafly also has a team that you can contact incase you need any technical assistance which was nice.
If you’re looking for a way to get constant internet access, without having to use your International Roaming, eSIMS can be an affordable solution. It gives you 4G access to most places around the world and is pretty much hassle-free.
Next time we’re hopping from one place to the next, eSIMS are definitely going to be something I use.
Disclaimer: Holafly sent us these eSims to test out but as always, our opinion is our own.
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