Go back

Can I keep my SIM card in my phone when traveling?

Of course you can!

· 4 min read

Traveling is an exciting adventure, but it often raises questions about how to stay connected while exploring new destinations. One common query that many travelers - especially first-time travelers - have is whether it's possible to keep their home country's SIM card in their phone when traveling. In this blog post, we'll explore the advantages and disadvantages of keeping your SIM card in your phone while abroad, and we'll also discuss some alternatives and tips to help you make the most of your communication options while on the go.

SIM card travel

Why would you want to keep your SIM card in your phone?

There could be various reasons why you would want to keep your SIM card in your phone when you travel, though most of them would likely revolve around remaining contactable as you travel and convenience. If we take a closer look at some of the reasons why you might want to keep your SIM card in your phone, here are the top few reasons:

  • Remain contactable on your home number
  • To be able to receive calls and SMSes on your home number in cases of emergency or to receive OTPs
  • To make sure you don't lose your SIM card as a result of taking it out

Staying connected with your home SIM card in your phone

The desire to keep your home SIM card in your phone and the need to remain connected often results in many people going down the route of turning on international roaming.

International roaming is a service offered by most telcos, allowing their subscribers to still remain connected when overseas. Telcos partner with overseas operators to provide this service, allowing their subscribers to hook onto the other operators' networks to remain connected. The scope of international roaming varies from provider to provider, and often includes the ability to send/receive calls and messages, as well as to establish data connection.

Operators provide various roaming plans, but international roaming is generally expensive and you can easily chalk up high roaming charges especially if you are a heavy data user.

However, international roaming is not the only way for you to stay connected while having your SIM card in your phone when traveling!

Using dual-SIM functionalities on your phone

Most modern phones today come with dual-SIM functionalities. Dual-SIM functionalities essentially allow you to have two SIMs active at the same time. The availability of dual-SIMs open up the possibility for you to stay connected without raking up high roaming charges, all while having your home SIM card in your phone!

If you have a phone with a dual-SIM tray (i.e. a SIM tray that supports two SIM cards), you can purchase a local tourist or prepaid SIM card at your destination upon arrival. Simply insert the second SIM card in the empty SIM slot, and activate it in your device settings. With the local SIM card in your second SIM slot, and keeping your home SIM card in your first SIM slot, you will be able to leverage on the local network for connectivity and calls, while still staying contactable on your primary line.

However, it is important to note that there may be some providers that do not allow you to use their SIM cards in the second SIM slot - so make sure to confirm before purchasing your SIM card.

Using travel eSIMs as your second SIM

Aside from using 2 physical SIM cards, eSIMs are another way for you to leverage the dual-SIM functionality. This is especially so in the case where your device doesn't have a dual-SIM tray (like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip and iPhones), although they do support dual-SIMs. But the use of eSIMs as your second SIM is not limited to just these devices — as long as your device is eSIM-compatible, you will be able to use an eSIM as your second SIM.

If you are new to the term eSIMs and are not sure what eSIMs are, they are essentially an embedded SIM. They work just like physical SIMs, except they are embedded within your device instead of having a physical SIM card. eSIMs do not require a physical SIM card slot - so in the event where you only have a single SIM tray, using an eSIM as your second SIM will allow you to stay connected on a second line without having to remove your home SIM card from your phone. In fact, you don't even have to take your SIM tray out from your device!

What are travel eSIMs?

Travel eSIMs are fundamentally eSIMs that are catered for travelers. They provide connectivity services in many destinations globally, but unlike subscription lines, travel eSIMs usually have a shorter validity.

The biggest draw factor of these travel eSIMs is the convenience that they offer. You can easily purchase the eSIM online even before you arrive at your destination, so you don't have to worry about the queues at the airport, or to worry about the counters not being open at your time of arrival. It is also easy to install and activate these eSIMs, and you don't have to fumble with your SIM trays!

How to use a travel eSIM?

Given an eSIM is embedded within your device, you can't exactly 'insert' or physically 'take out' an eSIM. Instead, what you'll need to do is to do an installation of the eSIM, similar to how you would install a piece of software.

Simply purchase your eSIM plan and follow the installation instructions to install your eSIM profile on your device. You can then turn on your eSIM plan on your device to stay connected using that profile.

However, it is important to note that you will need to have an eSIM-compatible device for you to be able to use an eSIM as you second SIM.

Where to get a travel eSIM?

There are many providers of travel eSIMs, including Nomad. Nomad offers travel eSIMs in more than 170 destinations worldwide, with prices at affordable near-local rates. With no hidden charges, you don't have to worry about racking up high international roaming bills even as you stay connected when you travel.

Simply create an account with Nomad, search for the plans that suits your needs best, and check out your eSIM plan. Upon successful purchase, you will receive an email consisting installation and activation instructions (not to worry, it is easy to install a Nomad eSIM). Just take note that you will need a stable internet connection to purchase and install your eSIM, so it is recommended that you do it before you depart!