7 Best eSIMs for International Travel


Staying connected while traveling has never been as easy as it is today, and thanks to eSIM technology, it’s even more effortless to hook up your phone or tablet to a cellular network in another country. If you haven’t been introduced to the eSIM game yet, then let us do the honors. 

Simply put, an eSIM is a digital replacement for a SIM card that allows your phone or tablet to connect to a cellular network. Travelers can peruse packages by country, duration, or region to find flexible eSIM options tailored to your needs. This erases the headache of having to hunt down a store and physically swap out your SIM card, as you can download an eSIM from the comfort of your own home before leaving on holiday. 

Like many cell phone providers and SIM companies, there are several eSIM companies on the market, and narrowing down the best one for your trip can be tedious work, especially if you don’t know what to look out for. Well, that’s where we come in. 

We’ve tested some of the top eSIM companies and have compiled this guide to the best eSIMs for international travel on the market. Whether you’re a digital nomad looking to stay connected with unlimited data or a snowbird heading south for a few weeks, you’ll find the best travel eSIMs compared so that you can choose an eSIM package that fits your travels.

Best eSIMs for International Travel

Airalo logo banner

Airalo — Best Overall

Airalo is one of the top names in the game for a reason; they offer a great user-friendly app and website with budget-friendly options for data-only packages, unlimited data packages, and packages with calling, texting, and data. The company is transparent about which carrier(s) you’ll be connected with and the speed of the connectivity included with the eSIM. Not to mention their cashback is the highest percentage for users!

What You Should Know

  • Available Countries: 200+ countries and regions.
  • Hotspot Tethering: Allowed.
  • Download Options: Direct (automatic), QR code, or manually.  
  • Referral Benefits or Rewards: $3 discount for referrer and new users as well as a 7% cashback via reward points after every purchase.

Go to Airalo

AloSIM logo banner


This Canadian-based company has been in the internet and mobile messaging business for over a decade and has a couple of great features that make it stand out. First, they have an accurate data calculator to help travelers users choose the right eSIM for their adventures. They are also 100% transparent about the data speed and connecting carriers that users will have access to. Users can easily top-up the same eSIM without the need to redownload one with the click of a button and can use the automatic download feature to download their initial eSIM with ease. I hit a snag with the automatic download the other day and sent an email to the support team, which was immediately answered with a solution, so their customer service is also on point!

What You Should Know

  • Available Countries: 130+ countries and regions.
  • Hotspot Tethering: Allowed.
  • Download Options: Automatic, QR code, or manually.  
  • Referral Benefits or Rewards: $3 discount for referrer and new users along with aloCASH points after every purchase. 

Read full review Go to aloSIM

SimOptions logo banner


SimOptions is a company that has been in the cellular network and SIM card business since 2014 and officially hit the market with its eSIMs in 2021. Since they have a decade of experience behind them, they also have forged some fantastic partnerships that allow users to purchase affordable data-only eSIMs and packages with a number, calling minutes, texting, and data. SimOptions is transparent with its networks and advertises to users which partner network the plan is with, whether top-up options are available, and what speed will be available (3G, LTE, 4G, or 5G). The downside of SimOptions is they haven’t perfected their downloading ability, and for some users, the QR code doesn’t work resulting in the need for customer support.

What You Should Know

  • Available Countries: 200+ countries and regions. 
  • Hotspot Tethering: Allowed.
  • Download Options: Manually or by QR code. 
  • Referral Benefits or Rewards: None. 

Read full review Go to SimOptions

Nomad eSIM logo banner


Nomad is another great eSIM company that is transparent about the speed of service and which carriers you’ll be connected with. They also allow you to top-up on the same eSIM instead of re-downloading every time you need more data. Nomad offers data-only packages around the world and packages with a phone number in the USA and Canada. Another benefit is they offer unlimited data packages in a few countries as well as a data calculator so you can get an idea of how much data you’ll need.

What You Should Know

  • Available Countries: 170+ countries and regions.
  • Hotspot Tethering: Allowed.
  • Download Options: Manually or by QR code.
  • Referral Benefits or Rewards: $3 discount for the referrer and new user along with reward points after every purchase. 

Read full review Go to Nomad

Holafly logo banner


Holafly is another great option for travelers, especially those USA-bound. The company offers several data-only packages, including unlimited packages, and some packages that include a local phone number and calling minutes. While they do advertise what connectivity speed will be available and tons of technical specs, like top-up capabilities, you need to dig a little deeper to see their partners list to see which exact carrier(s) you’ll have access to. 

What You Should Know

  • Available Countries: 170+ countries and regions.
  • Hotspot Tethering: Some eSIMs sold with Holafly allow tethering, while others do not. Some eSIMs’ data-sharing capabilities are capped at a certain amount per day, too. 
  • Download Options: QR code.
  • Referral Benefits or Rewards: None. 

Read full review Go to Holafly

Gigsky logo banner


GigSky has quite literally been at the heart of the eSIM game since Apple chose them as the official partner to help create the technology back in 2014. They truly stand out against the competition as they are the only eSIM company to offer data-only plans for cruise ships, commercial flights, and in the Gulf of Mexico and North Sea. But that’s not even their best feature. GigSky also offers a free eSIM with 100MB of data for all new users, along with a 5% cashback service in the form of GigSky points and free eSIMs for Visa cardholders registered at partnering banks. They also allow easy top-ups without the need to re-download. While the company is a heavy MVNO, the downside is the website and app do not work cohesively, so if you purchase a data package using its website on a laptop, you won’t be able to track that data usage in the app. For this reason, we highly advise you to purchase your eSIMs through the app.

What You Should Know

  • Available Countries: 190+ countries and regions, along with in-flight, cruises, and open sea packages.
  • Hotspot Tethering: Allowed.
  • Download Options: QR code or manually.  
  • Referral Benefits or Rewards: $3 discount for the referrer and new user along with reward points after every purchase.

Read full review Go to GigSky

Holiday eSIM logo banner

Holiday eSIM

Holiday eSIM is another great eSIM company, especially if you’re looking to travel to Europe. They have an extensive list of data-only and phone packages and plans for over 190 countries and regions, including unlimited world data packages for 50+ countries and pay-as-you-go eSIMs valid for up to two years. Holiday eSIM also offers unlimited plans and data plans with larger data allowances, such as 30GB and 50GB for under 20 USD, which is ideal for digital nomads. Plus, their Europe eSIM plan also includes international texting so you can stay connected with friends and family back home. With Holiday eSIM, you can pay in 17 different currencies.

What You Should Know

  • Available Countries: 190+ countries and regions.
  • Hotspot Tethering: Allowed.
  • Download Options: QR code or manually.  
  • Referral Benefits or Rewards: Reward points after purchase.

Read full review Go to Holiday eSIM

It’s impossible to say that one eSIM company is truly better than another as each has its strengths and weaknesses. In the end, it comes down to the partnerships they’ve made and the packages they can offer. It’s always a good idea to compare prices and packages between companies in advance so that you can see which eSIM company is leading the way in which regions. With that being said, our personal favorite eSIM company is Airalo.

What is an eSIM? 

An eSIM, or embedded SIM, is a digital replacement for a SIM card that is purchased and downloaded via an app or website that allows the user to be connected to a cellular network. An eSIM can even be used in conjunction with a physical SIM card or other eSIMs. Simply purchase a package before traveling and then when you land at the airport, your eSIM will be ready to be turned on and activated. Once activated, you’ll instantly be connected and ready to go! The process is simple and straightforward that even the most technologically impaired person in your family could follow along. 

Now, not all travel eSIMs are made the same. Some providers only connect you to the internet while others offer data, calling, and texting packages. One thing that all the eSIMs have in common though is that they are a fraction of the price of using your home phone plan abroad, especially for North Americans who have some of the highest cell phone network costs in the world.

What Devices Are Compatible With eSIMs? 

Generally speaking, most devices made after 2019 are compatible with eSIM technology. This includes smartphones, tablets, or smartwatches. Every eSIM company listed above has a full list of compatible devices on their website and in their app, but here are a few of the most popular devices to give you an idea:

  • iPhone XR or XS 
  • iPhone 11 or newer
  • iPads with 4G connectivity (made since 2019) 
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 and newer 
  • Google Pixel 2 and newer
  • Windows Surface Pro 7 and newer
  • Windows Surface Go 2 and 3

Before purchasing an eSIM, confirm that your device can use this technology as not all Apple and smart devices can. 

Things to Consider When Picking an eSIM for Travel

There are several factors to consider when purchasing an eSIM to ensure you’re getting the best package for your itinerary. From tethering abilities to the variety of data choices and ease of download, we’ll cover all this and more below. 

Where You’re Traveling

First things first, you want to ensure that the company you’re looking at covers where you’ll be traveling! The cool thing about travel eSIMs is they don’t only offer cellular connection for one country, but also multiple countries, regions, and even cruise lines. This is ideal for those planning multi-country trips or even multi-continent trips as some companies offer global plans. The companies above offer coverage in anywhere from 110-200 countries and regions around the world. 

Editor’s Note: Some eSIMs require you to complete an electronic Know Your Customer (eKYC) form, in which you must verify your identity with a photo ID. This verification process can take a few days, so it’s advisable to complete it before your departure.

Ease of App/Website

While the process of downloading an eSIM is almost the same with every company, not all apps or websites are built the same. Some companies have glitchy apps that fail to automatically download the eSIM when requested, resulting in users having to manually download their eSIM. Manually downloading an eSIM is still very easy; however, if you’re not technologically inclined it could pose a bit of frustration. 

Some eSIM companies also offer extras on their website and app, such as a data calculator so you can get an idea of how much you’ll need for your trip or eSIM top-up options so that you don’t have to re-download an eSIM every time you purchase a package. 


While pursuing plans on an eSIM app or website, the best companies are open and honest about who their partnering network(s) is in that country and what kind of speeds will be available. There is nothing more frustrating than spending money on an internet connection only to be stuck on a 3G or LTE network. You want to know what you’re getting and whether the partner network offers good coverage in your planned travel areas, so keep this in mind when choosing a company. 

Tethering Ability

You may be thinking of purchasing an eSIM and using it to work on your laptop or sharing the package with a friend via tethering. Not all eSIM companies allow this feature, so if you’re someone who likes to hotspot to other devices, ensure the eSIM company allows this. 

Rewards and Referrals

If you’re an avid traveler who will be using eSIMs for the foreseeable future, then you might want to consider an eSIM company that offers rewards for referrals or reward points after purchasing an eSIM. Who doesn’t like a little cash back after purchasing a product? Many companies have their own point system that can offer anywhere from a few cents to a few bucks off your next purchase. 

Downloading Process

While most eSIM companies offer an automatic download process, meaning you click ‘download eSIM’ and it will instantly be in your phone, that’s not the case with all of them. Some require users to scan a QR code in an email or enter the eSIM information manually. Depending on your techy skills, a manual or QR code download could be a turnoff since it’s a bit more complex. In other words, if Grandma needs an eSIM, make sure she picks a company that will make it as easy as possible for her!

Full Package vs. Data Package

As previously stated, some companies offer full packages that include a phone number with local texting and calling minutes along with data while others offer only data packages. With full packages, travelers can make use of calling and texting to make dinner reservations, call a tour to let them know you’re running late, or contact your hotel if you need an early check-in. However, don’t dismiss data-only packages as they are often the more budget-friendly option and still offer great connections through WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and iMessage. Keep in mind that eSIMs can also be used in conjunction with other eSIMs and physical SIM cards, so you could still use your home phone number abroad and supplement the data with an eSIM. 

Currency Accepted

While the type of currency accepted is a minor detail to consider, it’s still worth considering if you plan on purchasing a travel eSIM. Every eSIM company accepts at least three different currencies; usually USD, GBP, and EUR. However, that leaves users from other countries like Australia and Canada on the outs and usually with an additional fee from their bank for the conversion. This shouldn’t be your main deciding factor when choosing an eSIM, but if you’re between two different eSIM companies, this could be the tiebreaker. 

Skinny MVNO vs Light MVNO vs Heavy MVNO

If you really want to get into the details of what makes a great eSIM company at its core then you first have to learn the three levels of MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators). Now a traditional local cellphone provider, such as Vodafone, Bell, and AT&T, are known as MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) and they own the rights to certain radio spectrums and licenses which is how service gets delivered to our devices in that country. 

MVNOs do not own the rights to these frequencies and licenses, so they must create partnerships and rent space on a frequency. Think of it like a toll highway; the MNOs own the highway and the MVNOs pay the toll so their customers can also use the network in that country. Simple, right? 

While eSIM companies (the MVNOs) don’t own the rights to access any radio spectrums, they can invest in their own network delivery system that offers benefits to their customers. This is where the three types of MVNOs come in. 

Light MVNOs are on the bottom of the spectrum as they don’t invest in their own network so they rely completely on the MNO’s network to provide the packages. Simply put, they are just resellers with their own customer service. 

Now in the middle of the spectrum, there are skinny MVNOs, who invest a bit more in their network to provide certain ability perks to their customers but haven’t gone all out on creating a smooth network. 

Lastly, you have the big boys, the heavy MVNOs. These companies have invested heavily in their core networks and infrastructure to provide the best services possible. What does this mean for the user? MVNOs that invest in their core network can offer automatic carrier switching, meaning your device will always automatically connect to the strongest server in your area, as well as better overall coverage in remote/country areas and ultimately a better variety of customizable options. Companies that are heavy MVNOs usually advertise that they are such so that tech-savvy travelers can make an informed decision. 

Now that you have all the knowledge, you’ll be able to compare eSIM companies and packages like a pro and hunt down the perfect eSIM for your travels abroad. 



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