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Are travel eSIMs suitable for longer trip durations?

Or if you will be working remotely, or going on an exchange?

· 4 min read

The benefits of using a travel eSIM on a vacation is widely acknowledged and agreed on. But, it is also known that travel eSIMs are not without limitations. If you are planning for a long trip or will be staying at a destination for a longer period of time (maybe, if you will be working remotely as a digital nomad, or if you will be going on exchange), you might be wondering if it would be sufficient for you to get a travel eSIM. Let's take a look at some factors that you should consider when deciding if a travel eSIM is sufficient for a longer stay at a destination.


Factor 1: Validity of the travel eSIM

As the name suggests, travel eSIMs are typically designed for travelers. And they often have a validity period that is more representative of a typical trip duration, which might not be suitable for a long trip.

Travel eSIMs that offer a longer period of validity are often more expensive, and are likely to provide more coverage than you actually need - which might not make them the most cost effective option for a longer trip or for use cases such as a student exchange program.

But, while most travel eSIMs have a relatively shorter validity (usually about a month or so), some of them offer the option for you to extend the validity through the purchase of an add-on (or a top up). This is no different to how you would extend the validity of a prepaid SIM card by topping up or adding value to the SIM card.

Although having to regularly purchase add-ons could be a slight hassle, it definitely opens up the option of using a travel eSIM to help you stay connected during a long trip.

However, it is also important to note that some countries may have restrictions on purchasing eSIMs. For example, you will not be able to purchase a UAE travel eSIM from within UAE; or a travel eSIM for India from within India — in such cases, the limited validity of a travel eSIM might not make it a great choice for longer trips.

Factor 2: Availability of a Local Number

Most travel eSIMs are data-only eSIMs, which also means that you will not have a local number to make calls and send messages. While this might not be an issue for short trips, a longer trip could also mean more situations where you might need a local number.

With the availability of messaging and social apps, it is likely that you can still go about day-to-day activities and communication without a local number. However, there could be situations which might require you to have a local phone number. For example, if you needed to open a local bank account, some banks might require that you have a local phone number. Or, if you wanted to set up some local payment apps, a local phone number is often required.

If you foresee yourself needing a local phone number throughout the duration of your stay, then a travel eSIM might not be your best choice. Remember to read the details of the eSIM plan before you purchase it to check the services included.

Factor 3: Cost of Travel eSIM vs Local eSIM/SIM

A travel eSIM could be similarly priced - and in fact in some destinations, could be cheaper - than if you were to get a tourist SIM card or eSIM at the destination.

However, when we compare prices of a travel eSIM and that of a monthly plan for a local SIM or eSIM, there could be a larger difference in the cost.

If you are considering getting a local SIM card, remember to check out your different options to finding the most cost-effective method.

Consider if it will make sense for you to get a contract line or just a prepaid line. Consider also the amount of data you might need — depending on the cost, an option to consider would be to get a line with minimal data allowance and to supplement it with a travel eSIM that could perhaps provide you with more data at a cheaper cost.

Factor 4: How many different destinations will you be visiting?

Another factor to consider for a long trip will be the number of destinations you will be visiting. If you will only be at a single location, perhaps your options will be more straightforward — to either get a local SIM card or get a travel eSIM.

But, if you will be traveling across multiple countries, there might be a few more factors to consider.

When getting a local SIM card, check the roaming coverage of that SIM card and if it will provide you with coverage in the other destinations you are traveling to. Otherwise, you might need to get multiple SIM cards for the different destinations, or to supplement your local SIM with travel eSIMs.

Alternatively, if you will be traveling across multiple countries, getting a regional travel eSIM could sometimes be a better choice, providing greater convenience and more seamless connectivity as you hop across destinations.

Get a travel eSIM to tide you through the first few days after you land

Whether you eventually decide to get a local SIM card, it is recommended that you get a travel eSIM to at least help you tide through the first few days after you land at a destination.

If you are on a long trip, it is likely that there will be a number of things that you would need to do to settle down when you first arrive at a destination. While settling the administrative matters like accommodation to getting a local phone number, it is important for you to have connectivity during your first few days at the new destination.

To help you tide through this period of adjustment and settling down, a travel eSIM will definitely come in handy. Buy and install your eSIM before flying, and get connected once you arrive at your destination. This takes off one thing from your list of worries, and you can get back to deciding if you need a local SIM card after you have settled down at your destination.

Get a Nomad travel eSIM to help you travel stress-free

Nomad offers data plans in over 165 countries, and you can be sure to find one that is suitable for your travel needs. And if you will be traveling across multiple countries, there are also regional plans available so you can stay seamlessly connected as you hop between countries. Data plans are available from as low as $1.50/GB.

Nomad also has a 24-hour customer support team. So, in the event where you face difficulties while using your eSIM, rest assured there will be someone available to help you resolve your issues!