How to avoid data roaming when traveling abroad?

Travel safely and worry-free this holiday season with eSIM

Authored by Jerry Liu, Growth PM for Nomad

December 9, 2020

Read Time: 5 mins

The winter holidays are typically one of the most joyful times of the year. Families get together, time is taken off of work, and people travel to warmer or colder parts of the world for a holiday getaway. As COVID-19 poses unexpected challenges this holiday season, it will be especially important to stay safe and take all the necessary precautions this time around. It is especially important to get stable connectivity during travel to keep updated on the latest news and local information. Here are several tips we believe that would be helpful!

Holiday Travel Made Easy

Do you know how much mobile data you use?

You may be the type of person who only thinks about their data roaming once landed at the destination. Or you may not know where to research different types of plans to use in other countries. Or you may not know what services/deals your current provider has for international travel. These are all very common problems that people face, with limited resources on how to solve them. 

Another common problem comes with underestimating your own data usage. Not only may you underestimate how much data you use, but also when you’ll need to use it. Did you know that the average smartphone owner uses between 2 and 5 GB of data each month? It’s crucial to understand the total amount of data you’re using, and which apps are contributing to the data usage. To figure out how much data you’re using on iOS, go to Settings —> Cellular and you can see a detailed breakdown of your current period and the apps that are using the most data. 

7 Tips for Avoiding Expensive Roaming Fees

We believe that we can help with minimizing your data usage cost while traveling with these tips.

1. Get an eSIM data plan. Usually, people order local SIM cards which can be expensive to pay for and ship. Alternatively, they can also wait until they arrive at the destination, but this comes with a lack of peace of mind and isn’t necessarily cheaper. eSIMS are becoming increasingly available in countries around the world and provide a seamless way to compare and purchase data plans proactively. Check out our guide on choosing the right eSIM card to find the best one for you while abroad.

2. Download as many things as you can beforehand. Whether it is Netflix, Google Maps or Google Translate, there are increasingly a large number of apps that support content being downloaded over WiFi for offline usage. For any of the apps that you expect to use frequently while traveling, see if there are guides on how you can download content prior to leaving your home.

3. Disable any unnecessary apps that use data. Automatic processes such as data backups and app updates are things we don’t even notice day-to-day while using our phone. However, while traveling abroad, these can accumulate to large amounts of data usage and rack up your roaming bill. 

4. Limit cellular data usage. You can go to Settings —> Cellular —> Use Cellular Data for and disable anything that you don’t think is necessary. 

5. Figure out where WiFi hotspots are going to be at the destination. Look at the map and the places that you’ll be visiting. See if there are public hotspots such as coffee shops or tourist centers that provide free WiFi. These can be crucial checkpoints that allow you to rest and recharge on your connectivity. 

6. Change email and message settings. On iPhone, you can go to Settings —> Mail and toggle off Push and Fetch New Data so that you don’t automatically download new emails. For iMessage, you can go to Settings —> Messaging and deactivate iMessage. 

7. Disable roaming. If you don’t want to take any risk on roaming charges you can go to Settings —> Cellular and toggle off Data Roaming. However, this isn’t highly recommended because it may cause you inconvenience when searching up some information or trying to find the way back.

Take Control of Your Data Usage

Getting a good eSIM deal to save more money

Ultimately, the most relevant advice will depend on your person data usage while traveling. If you will frequently need to stay in contact with others and the Internet, then we strongly recommend getting a good deal on an eSIM to make life easiest for you. Again, check out or Nomad app offering (plug discount?) for more details. Otherwise, try your best to limit the roaming or disable it altogether to minimize the chance of unexpected fees appearing once you’ve made it back home.