Access to cellular data while traveling has become a necessity. For one, it allows family and friends to reach us in case of an emergency. It also enables us to
- Stay connected to family and friends
- Search for restaurants and attractions
- Use map, translation, car-sharing, and even emergency apps
- Capture and store location information when we take photos
No matter how many or few of these features you rely on, you need a SIM card, which is why we’re recommending TravelSim for all the international travelers on your gifting list this holiday season.
A Crash Course On SIM Cards
A SIM card may not seem like a glamorous gift, but it is ultimately practical. We travel abroad internationally a few times a year, including a 3+ month trip every winter. We have tried numerous solutions for staying connected while abroad, including buying a portable Wi-Fi device, relying on publicly accessible and hotel-based Wi-Fi, and purchasing SIM cards when we arrive at a new location.
The most expensive option (which we relied on when we had to use our U.S. number for two-factor authentication) was using our U.S. carrier’s international day pass, which cost $10 a day.
Bottom Line: The best solution for staying connected is to get an international SIM card.
What Is A SIM Card?
Every mobile device works with a SIM, or Subscriber Identity Module. This is a smart card that stores information that enables your device to connect to a mobile network for both internet and cellular services. An example of some of the information that gets stored on SIM cards is contact information. SIM cards vary in size and location depending on the mobile device you’re using. For example, Apple devices use a nano SIM, which is one of the smallest physical SIM cards that can be inserted into phones.
International SIM Card Vs. eSIM
Today, in addition to physical SIM cards, we can also have digital SIM cards, known as eSIM (or embedded Subscriber Identity Module). An eSIM can be added to your device electronically within minutes of ordering, thus allowing you to have two or more mobile numbers (depending on the type and age or version of your cellular device).
An eSIM is commonly used to enable an alternate number, which makes the phone a dual SIM device. An eSIM is rewritable and does not require the removal and insertion of your existing SIM card each time. This makes the eSIM more secure as there is less opportunity for loss and theft.
Additionally, eSIM is not just for mobile devices, you can add eSIM to your tablets, smartwatches, and computers. Getting an eSIM plan is simple: You sign up for a new plan and a QR code is sent to you for activation within minutes. You can use the eSIM with a different plan for different purposes, like work or personal. You can easily toggle between the plans prior to use by going into the settings of your device.
Check your device settings under Network and Internet and then Cellular to see if your device is set up for eSIM. You can then set up and select the appropriate eSIM profiles for your purposes.
Who Needs A SIM Card?
Using a local SIM card is more economical than roaming plans from your home carrier. If you stay in a foreign country for any length of time, it is vital to get a local SIM card.
Having a second, local number enables you to make and receive calls on the alternate number, usually at a much lower rate, and you won’t incur huge roaming charges.
We often buy our SIM cards once we land in another country. That means not having cell coverage until we arrive at our destination. It also means we don’t know our new number until after we insert our new SIM card. We usually don’t find the best plans in airports, so that means that we don’t generally have coverage until the day after we land. That can be problematic.
Enter TravelSim: The Perfect Gift
TravelSim is a fantastic option for international travelers, especially if their primary contacts live in the U.S. With TravelSim, they will have a U.S. number that is reusable and doesn’t expire for a year. This can be very helpful if they are doing multiple trips in a 12-month period as they will be able to keep the same number for any international travel for up to a year. Since they will have a U.S. number, their contacts in the U.S. won’t incur extra charges when calling them. If their trip is longer than 11 days, it is very economical to use TravelSim.
TravelSim is connected to more than 300 networks around the world, which means better coverage in more than 135 countries. There are options for both international SIM cards and eSIM and plans targeted to specific destinations like the Americas, Asia, Europe, and other parts of the world.
With TravelSim, you can order your SIM card in advance and have it shipped to you before you leave. You’ll be able to share your new phone number with friends, family, and colleagues before you get on the plane. Then, you can change your SIM card just before landing and activate it as soon as you get off the plane.
Pro Tip: TravelSim also has express delivery for last-minute trips.
TravelSim’s eSIM Option
If your phone supports eSIM, you can use an eSIM with TravelSim. When we use physical SIM cards and switch them in and out of our phones, we’re always worried about losing or misplacing our U.S. SIM card by the end of the trip. With an eSIM, you don’t have to worry about that. Most newer phones support an eSIM, often allowing two or more phone numbers on the same phone. When you use your phone, you select which eSIM you are using for that call, text, or other activity. It’s much less complicated than it sounds.
SIM And eSIM Pro Tips
- Some phones are locked, meaning they are tied to a particular cellular company. Make sure your device is unlocked so you can add a SIM card or eSIM.
- Most new phones support eSIM, but you’ll need to check your phone before ordering from TravelSim.
- Some new phones come without a physical SIM card — they’re eSIM only. TravelSim eSIM cards are compatible with most cell phones.
- If you are going to change your SIM card on a plane, bring a paper clip or tool for opening the SIM card compartment. Make sure to store your original SIM card in a safe place.
To continue gift shopping for your favorite traveler, check out: