Best eSIM for International Travel: The Ultimate Guide

A person in a yellow jacket and orange beanie is smiling while talking on a phone, with a waterfall and mountain landscape in the background.

International travel is a lot of fun but it does come with its own set of challenges; one such challenge is the lack of mobile data, i.e., access to the Internet. Well, if you don’t know yet, this problem has a simple solution – all you need is the best eSIM for international travel!

Finding the best eSIM provider can seem daunting, especially if this is the first time you’re using this technology. Still, there’s no need to worry! In this comprehensive guide, I provide a detailed overview of eSIM cards: what they are, how they work, and how to find out whether your phone supports eSIMs.

Better yet, I compared all highly-reviewed eSIM providers and created a definitive list with the ultimate choices. I also review all the best eSIM providers and tell you what each is best for.

My top choice is Airalo – it’s extremely easy to use, affordable, and offers great data plans, but there are some other great options, too – let’s find out!

What is an eSim & why do you need it?

A person stands at a train station platform, looking at their smartphone and smiling. A train is stationary in the background.

eSIM stands for embedded SIM, and as you might already be guessing, it’s a SIM card that’s already been embedded into your smartphone. The eSIM is essentially a digital version of the physical SIM card and has all the same features, including phone calls, SMS services, and data usage.

One of the main perks of using an eSIM card (compared to a physical SIM) is the ease of use. When you opt for an eSIM, you save yourself the trouble of finding a spot that sells physical SIM cards and all the hassle of opening your phone and replacing your primary SIM or adding an additional SIM card (if your phone has 2 SIM slots).

What this means is you can enjoy high-speed data, plus make phone calls and send text messages through the local network in your destination country. Plus you can enjoy this all at very affordable prices, especially compared to roaming services – which brings me to my next point.

Nearly all phone and internet providers offer international roaming in their packages, although at a significant cost. So, if you decide to use roaming instead of eSIMs or local SIM cards, expect to pay a substantial phone bill.

In short, using an eSIM plan or a local SIM card is much more cost-effective when traveling, but eSIM services are the better choice in terms of usability, and they allow you to choose from multiple plans.

Does your phone support an eSIM?

A person holds a smartphone displaying a Wi-Fi connection app, with a cityscape visible in the background. The foreground includes part of a coin-operated binocular viewer.

Nearly all newer models (produced after 2018) of smartphones support eSIMs. However, before you embark on your trip and before you purchase an eSIM, it’s a good idea to check.

There’s a quick and easy way to check if your phone is eSIM compatible, although the method varies depending on the phone’s make and pre-installed data settings.

If you have an iPhone, the easiest way to check whether it supports eSIM is to go into Settings, find the Carrier Lock section, and check if it says ‘No SIM restrictions.’ Then, look for a section that says Available SIM or Digital SIM, where you can see the 15-digit IMEI ( International Mobile Equipment Identity) number, meaning your iOS device supports eSIMs.

The process for checking if Android phones support eSIMs is very similar: Go into Settings and find ‘SIMs’ or ‘SIM-card Manager.’ If you see a section that says ‘Add eSIM,’ it means your Android device supports eSIMs.

You can also check if your Android has EID (Embedded Identity Document Number) by dialing *#06#. If a number shows up on your screen when you press call, that’s the number of eSIM that’s embedded in your phone.

The best eSIM for international travel: 7 top choices

After comparing various features, such as network coverage, usability, and price, I came up with this list of the 7 best eSIMs for international travelers. Below, you’ll find my dedicated reviews for each, as well as my take on why I think it’s a good choice.

1. Airalo – overall best international eSIM

Smartphone displaying eSIM service ads with the app "Airalo: eSIM Pocket Internet" highlighted and text "Discover eSIM App. Be in Touch When You Travel. Global Internet in Your Pocket." on screen.

Airalo takes the top spot among the best eSIM providers. This service provider offers local, regional, and global plans and coverage in more than 200 countries. For each country and region, Airalo offers multiple plans that vary in duration, data limits, and price, so you can choose one that best fits your needs.

The local and regional plans are data-only plans, but if you want to make phone calls and send text messages, you can get one of the Airalo global plans that will allow you to make calls in multiple countries.

One of my favorite things about Airalo is that it’s extremely easy to use – all you need to do is install the Airalo app on your mobile device, pick your destination from the available list, decide on a package, and install the eSIM. As soon as you reach your destination country, you can activate the eSIM in the app and automatically connect to the Internet.

Airalo provides coverage even in the most remote regions, and they even have a referral program that lets you earn Airmoney, i.e., Airalo credits. Every time you share a referral code with your friends, you earn US$ in Airmoney that you can use for future purchases.

Coverage: 200+ countries, 7 regions, 6 global plans
Price: US$4.50-US$89
Validity Period: 7-365 days
Devices supported: iOS, Android

NOTE: if you use the Revolut money-managing app, you can also easily get a Revolut eSIM through their app.

2. Airhub – best eSIM for international calls

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If international calls are something you need during your trips, Airhub is an excellent choice for you. This network provider offers local plans that include virtual phone numbers that will allow you to call and text while abroad.

However, Airhub provides much more than just calls! Its eSIM services are available in more than 80 countries around the world, and the Airhub global plan will provide you with a data-only eSIM that will keep you connected even if you’re visiting multiple countries.

But that’s not all! When you sign up for Airhub, you can get 100 MB of data completely free of charge, valid in all of the countries where the provider offers its service. Once you go through this free data, you can get one of the Top-Up packages and continue using the Internet.

Buying an Airhub eSIM is simple – the provider has both Android and iOS apps that make purchasing and installing the eSIM extremely easy with the help of a QR code. Lastly, if you’re not satisfied with any of the services, Airhub offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, although you won’t need to use it!

Coverage: 80+ countries, 6 regions, 6 global plans
Price: US$3-US$40
Validity Period: 5 days – a year
Devices supported: iOS, Android

3. aloSIM – best for budget-savvy users

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Want a budget-friendly data plan? aloSIM provides exactly that! Whether you’re visiting just one country or exploring several countries, airSIM provides seamless connectivity in over 170 countries and 7 regions.

The plans offered by aloSIM are data-only plans with different validity periods and data sizes for each of the available countries/regions. If you are traveling to one country, the best choice is to get a local data plan, but if you’re exploring an entire region or even a continent, the regional plans are great and come with some extra perks.

If you buy aloSIM’s regional eSIM, you’ll get a Hushed phone number for free; these numbers are available in more than 300 area codes and contain free credits that will provide either 30 minutes of calls or 50 texts.

This is the cheapest eSIM, considering the amount of data it offers and the access to a wide range of mobile networks around the world. Plus, you can get multiple eSIMs from aloSIM; this is a great option if you’re visiting a couple of countries and don’t need the regional plan.

Coverage: 170+ countries, 11 regional plans
Price: US$4.50-US$185
Validity Period: 7-180 days
Devices supported: iOS, Android

4. InstaBridge – best for use on multiple devices

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The InstaBridge eSIM provider prides itself on providing high-speed data access, both on your cell phone and on other devices – something that makes it stand out among other providers. InstaBridge allows you to connect up to 10 devices to the data plan and maintain a constant connection without paying the extra cost.

The eSIM plans offered by InstaBridge are data-only, but that shouldn’t be an issue for you seeing as there are plenty of Internet-based apps (WhatsApp, Viber) that you can use for texting and calling. And there’s no need to worry about spotty calls or delayed message deliveries, as InstaBridge data is super fast and available in over 190 countries.

One downside of the InstaBridge eSIM plans is the lack of regional options; the provider only covers 2 regions (Europe and Latin America) with 3 regional plans for each. The good news is that you only need one InstaBridge eSIM wherever you are in the world; you can always pick a new local plan for the country you’re visiting and connect it to the existing eSIM.

Lastly, I have to talk to you about one of the provider’s most unique features – the InstaBridge browser. This is the company’s proprietary browser that you can start using when you activate your data plan – and you definitely should! This browser compresses data and makes it last longer – so you get more data usage for the same price!

Coverage: 190+ countries, 2 regions, 2 global plans
Price: US$3.50-US$50
Validity Period: 15-30 days
Devices supported: iOS, Android

5. Nomad – best eSIM for USA travel

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When you’re planning a trip to the US, one of the things you shouldn’t overlook is finding and purchasing one of the best eSIM plans in the USA. For this particular trip, I recommend getting a Nomad eSIM because it offers customizable data packages that allow you to choose how much data you need and for how long.

The Nomad plans are great for use in the US, but they are also available in more than 170 countries around the world. You can choose from a variety of plans provided by local companies, but you can also get one of the very nicely designed regional plans that provide coverage in select countries in Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa, and the Middle East.

Besides the data plans, Nomad also offers SMS plans to travelers to the US and Canada. These plans will provide you with a virtual phone number, but this number can only be used for texting; through the Nomad texting app, you can send and receive texts, but anyone from any number can text you – quite convenient, right?

Installing the Nomad eSIM is super easy and takes a matter of minutes. You’ll need to install the app on either an Android or an iOS phone, which will grant you access to a QR code. Then, you just scan the code, and you’ll have the eSIM installed on your device; your plan can be activated anytime after being installed.

Coverage: 170+ countries, 10 regions, 6 global plans
Price: US$4-US$57
Validity Period: 1-45 days
Devices supported: iOS, Android

6. Holafly – top eSIM choice for unlimited data use

A person in a yellow jacket and gray beanie takes a photo with a smartphone on a beach with waves and a cloudy sky in the background.

If you’re the type of person who goes through a lot of data when traveling, then Holafly is the best fit for you. This eSIM provider offers unlimited data plans in Europe, the US, China, Mexico, Japan, and Turkey. Besides the unlimited plans, Holafly also offers limited local and regional plans in as many as 197 countries.

The Holafly plans are data-only, but you can still use your physical SIM card if you need to make an emergency phone call. The digital SIM card you get with Holafly doesn’t interfere with traditional SIM cards, so you can still use your number if you need it. But don’t forget that you can make unlimited calls through the apps you already have on your phone!

If you’re looking for the best eSIM for international travel to Europe, Holafly is definitely one of the top choices. The Europe regional eSIM will provide you with access to unlimited data in numerous countries without the need to install multiple eSIMs, but better yet, you can customize each plan based on how long you’ll be staying in Europe.

There is one thing, however, that I don’t like about Holafly – it doesn’t offer global eSIMs. But still, the pros outweigh the cons, and I think this is an amazing choice. One of my favorite Holafly features is the pre-purchase, which allows you to buy an eSIM and then activate your unlimited data plan once you reach your destination.

TIP: if there’s a chance of your travel plans falling through, you can still get a Holafly eSIM and not worry about losing money; the provider gives you up to 6 months to request a refund on your purchase!

Coverage: 197+ countries, 7 regions, 6 global plans
Price: US$6-US$67
Validity Period: 1-20 days
Devices supported: iOS, Android

7. FlexiRoam – best eSIM for usability

A woman in a hat and striped shirt holds a smartphone and looks around while standing outside near a fountain and large buildings.

I couldn’t wrap up this list without including FlexiRoam, an extremely easy-to-use eSIM provider. Offering global coverage, FlexiRoam is an ideal choice for people who care about simplicity – the FlexiRoam installation process is very quick and simple, which really emphasizes the advantage eSIMs have over physical SIMs.

Another benefit of using FlexiRoam is access to unlimited data; for each of the local plans, FlexiRoam offers both fixed plans and unlimited data plans, so you can choose an option that will cover all your data needs. Whether you need to use Google Maps all day or post Insta stories, the unlimited data plan ensures an uninterrupted connection.

Besides the local eSIM, you can also get regional and global eSIMs from FlexiRoam, all available at very affordable prices and, even better, all with flexible start dates. So you can purchase your eSIM before your trip and activate it whenever it works for you.

As for the installation process, the first thing you need to do is check whether your device is eSIM compatible. The next step is to get the FlexiRoam app from Google Play or the App Store (the best eSIM app for international travel, IMO), and just select and install a data plan that works for you – it’s as simple as that!

Coverage: 200+ countries, 7 regions, 6 global plans
Price: US$0.28-US$69
Validity Period: 1-365 days
Devices supported: iOS, Android

Best SIM cards for international travel

A hand holding a SIM card between the thumb and index finger against a blurred background.

Even though this article is about which is the best eSIM for international travel, we still need to talk (briefly) about physical SIMs. Seeing as not all smartphones are eSIM compatible, some travelers have no other choice but to get a physical SIM card.

So, precisely because of that, I decided to recommend a few great providers that offer traditional SIM cards internationally.

  • SimOptions – offering delivery to more than 100 countries, this provider will ensure you can call, text, and use the Internet as soon as you arrive at your destination.
  • OneSimCard – if you order a SIM card from this provider, you’ll get 2 phone numbers and receive calls for free, while outgoing calls are available at affordable prices.
  • SurfRoam – the provider offers pre-paid data-only SIM cards that have coverage in over 200 countries. Plus, the cards are rechargeable, so you won’t run out of data.

Subscribe here to get up to 35% off your accommodation for your next trip!

FAQs about the best eSIM for international travel

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🔐 How to install an eSIM? 

All eSIM providers will provide instructions on how to install the digital SIM card. However, in most cases, you can install an eSIM either by installing the mobile app and following the steps, scanning a QR code, or following the instructions sent by email.

🧳 Can I install eSIM before travel?

Yes, most eSIM service providers allow you to install the card before traveling. Once you reach your destination, you’ll just need to activate the eSIM and start using data or calling and texting.

🪙 When should I buy an eSIM?

You should buy an eSIM at least a day before you travel while you still have a reliable Internet connection and access to alternative options in case something goes wrong.

✅ Does WhatsApp work with eSIMs?

WhatsApp works with an eSIM in the same way it does with a physical SIM. However, if you get an eSIM with a virtual number, know that WhatsApp can only work with one of the numbers, either the virtual phone or your primary number.

🤔 Is Holafly or Airalo better?

Holafly is better for unlimited data access, while Airalo is the best option if you also want to make calls and send texts.

💯 Is Airalo reliable?

Yes, Airalo is a very reliable provider. I can confirm from experience that it works flawlessly in many countries, and even if you have some issues, you can always turn to the friendly support team for help.

❌ What countries don’t accept eSIM?

eSIMs are not accepted in mainland China, so if you’re traveling there, I suggest you look into alternative options for data access.

📱 Does eSIM give you a phone number?

Whether or not you get a phone number with the eSIM depends on the provider. Some providers offer virtual numbers, while some do not. If you need a virtual number, check out Airhub and Nomad.

Final remarks on the best eSIM for international travel

A person wearing a hat and sunglasses sits on a beach, looking at a smartphone. The sun is setting over the ocean in the background.

We’ve reached the end of this comprehensive guide on the best eSIM for international travel. Whether you need unlimited data or texts and calls in the destination country, an eSIM is the ultimate choice for travelers and adventurers.

I hope that my advice was helpful and that you have already decided on a provider from my recommendations. But if you’re still unsure, here are my 2 favorite eSIM providers:

  • Airalo – covering more than 200 countries, this provider offers various data plans, and it’s extremely easy to use
  • Airhub – offering 100 MB of free data, quick QR code registration, and a 30 money-back guarantee

If you have any other questions about using eSIMs or what’s the best provider for your needs, leave me a comment below – I’ll be happy to help!

Happy roaming,


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