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Best eSIM for International Travel in 2024 (Tested & Proven)

Best eSIM for International Travel in 2024 (Tested & Proven)

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I’ve been testing travel eSIMs for over 21 months in 19 countries across 5 continents. 

But instead of telling you what I think the best eSIMs for international travel are based on my opinion, I decided to do an actual experiment, run tests, gather data, and settle this once and for all. 

Note: Most eSIM companies have refer-a-friend bonuses built into their app. So if you want discounts/free credits for any of these eSIMs, feel free to use the codes in the corresponding section. 

TL;DR – Key findings

👉 All companies I tested worked, but some are definitely easier to use and have better features than others.

👉 For “Normie Vacationers” who only use data for the essentials, Airalo is my top pick. However, in some countries, Nomad has more plan variety.

👉 For “Data Hogs” who use a lot of IG, TikTok, and Youtube, Holafly unlimited data eSIMs are the best option in many countries.

👉 For “Nomads” and long-term travelers, it may be more convenient to switch your home line to a plan that includes international data — but there are some caveats.

10 Best eSIMs for International Travel, Tested & Ranked

The best international eSIM depends on your travel style, trip length, destination, and data usage.

Every situation is unique, and no one eSIM company offers the best deal in every single country. 

However, some companies consistently offer better prices, plan variety, customer service, and user experience. 

I hope this research saves you time, money, and hassle trying to find the best eSIM for your trip. 

Just remember that they are general recommendations based on the six popular regions I included in my investigation. 

There may be exceptions and outliers for certain countries and data needs. 

See full details on how I ran the experiment and assigned ratings. 

Airalo (⭐️ Best for “Normie Vacationers”)

Price: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Ease of setup: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Customer service: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Avg. Plan Variety: 4 plan options
Regions covered*: 200+
Data sharing: Yes
Standout features: Easiest app to use
Read full Airalo review

Airalo is my #1 recommendation for “Normie Vacationers”.

A “Normie Vacationer” is the type of person going on a trip for a week or two who only uses data for the essentials — maps, messages, light research, light social media, etc.

In other words, you don’t blow through your data scrolling through IG, TikTok, Youtube, or other data-intensive things on your phone (there’s a better eSIM for these types of people).

Airalo tops the charts because they usually have the lowest (or at least competitive) prices in many destinations. 

I also found their setup process to be the easiest of all eSIMs tested. 

This is thanks to their handy app, which allows you to buy, install, top-up, and monitor plans all from within the app. 

One downside to Airalo is their customer service is not that impressive. During my tests, it took around 25 minutes for responses (and it could take many responses to get an issue solved). 

Fortunately, after using Airalo for many months in 8 different countries, I’ve only had a few service hiccups — so it’s unlikely you’ll need to contact support. 

The other downside is there are certain regions of the world where Airalo has a limited number of plan options to choose from. 

So if you search your destination in Airalo and don’t find a plan that fits your trip, you can try my next recommendation instead. 

Use discount code MITCH9827 for free credits

Nomad (⭐️ Runner-up for “Normie Vacationers”)

Price: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Ease of setup: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Customer service: ⭐️⭐️
Avg. Plan Variety: 6 plan options
Regions covered*: 165
Data sharing: Yes
Standout features: App with easy setup, better plan variety in certain regions
Read full Nomad eSIM review

Nomad is the runner-up choice for “Normie Vacationers” (AKA light data users).

They rank right up there with Airalo, but with some slight differences.

The Nomad app is pretty slick, but not quite as intuitive as Airalo (in my opinion). 

You can buy your eSIM from within the app, but you need to leave the app to install your eSIM — either via QR code or manually pasting in the codes. 

That said, they have super clear instructions and onboarding, so the process is quite easy. 

After researching and comparing plan options across different countries, I found that smaller plans (1-2 weeks, 1-2GB) were on par with Airalo prices — either the same or within a dollar or two.

In certain regions of the world — like Southeast Asia — Nomad actually has more plan options than Airalo, so you’re more likely to find one that precisely fits your needs. 

Nomad had a slightly slower customer response time than Airalo — getting back to me after 50 minutes. 

Again, the odds of you needing to use customer services are low, but it would be nice if they were more prompt. 

Overall, if I were going on a Normie Traveler trip, I’d just pop open Airalo, then pop open Nomad, then see which one has the best price for the amount of data I need. 

Or if you want to keep life simple, just choose one and stick with it for all your travels. The differences are usually minimal. 

Use discount code UNTETHER for free credits

Holafly (⭐️ Best for “Data Hogs”)

Price: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️*
Ease of setup: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Customer service: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Avg. Plan Variety: 7 plan options
Regions covered*: 170+
Data sharing: No
Standout features: Unlimited plans, multilingual customer support
Read full Holafly review

Holafly is unique from all other eSIM providers in this experiment because they focus on unlimited data plans. 

This is the best travel eSIM for you if you’re the type of person who instinctively opens Instagram, TikTok, or Youtube whenever you’re waiting at a restaurant or lounging at the beach.

If you’re a “data hog”, the small Airalo plans aren’t gonna cut it. 

If you buy a small plan, you have to constantly monitor your usage and risk running out of data when you need it most. 

Not only that, but as a heavy data user, you’ll likely need to top up these small plans multiple times, which can be more expensive in the long run. 

*The more data you use, the cheaper Holafly ends up being per GB (but the opposite is also true).  

Holafly ranks 3 stars for ease of setup because while they have some of the clearest installation instructions, they have yet to integrate the buying or setup process into their app. 

That means you have to follow the instructions in their email to configure your settings, but these are pretty straightforward. 

Holafly had the best customer service response times out of all eSIM companies tested — responding to their Whatsapp chat within 60 seconds (by a REAL HUMAN!). 

The downside to Holafly is that their unlimited plans currently do not allow data sharing, so it’s not very helpful for digital nomads who need to tether their laptops for an internet connection. 

Long story short — Holafly is your best option if you want an unlimited data plan and don’t need to tether.

Use discount code PROJECTUNTETHERED

Drimsim

Price: ⭐️*
Ease of setup: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Customer service: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Avg. Plan Variety: 1 (charged per MB)
Regions covered*: 197 regions
Data sharing: Yes
Standout features: Pay per MB, eSIM or physical SIM, Global data with one eSIM
Read full Drimsim review (coming soon)

Drimsim is a bit different than all the other eSIM companies tested. 

With other companies, you buy a data package that includes a data allowance, a time limit, and a destination (or region).

With Drimsim, you buy one eSIM (or physical SIM) that works in 197 regions, add credit to your account, then get charged per MB against your balance. 

In other words, you pay for what you use instead of paying for a set package.

Rates vary by country, and you can check them all out here

Your eSIM has no expiration date. But if you’re inactive for 360 days, it will start drawing €0.5 per month from your balance until you reach zero balance. You can extend this 360-day limit by switching the eSIM on and using a tiny bit of data. 

Per GB, Drimsim is more expensive than Airalo, Holafly, and most other companies on this list (hence the one-star rating).

However, it does have an interesting use case for hardcore travelers who frequently hop around different countries. 

Essentially, you could add some credit and use Drimsim as a “backup” data plan. 

That way, if you’re just on a long layover or passing through a country in a day or two, you could use your Drimsim credits instead of buying a whole separate eSIM. 

You also wouldn’t ever have to worry about installing a country-specific data plan on your phone before leaving on your trip. You could simply arrive in your destination, switch on Drimsim until you get to your accommodation, then buy a cheaper local eSIM once you’re settled in.

The minimum to get started with Drimsim is €35 (€10 for the eSIM and €25 for the minimum amount of credits). 

An alternative “backup” plan would be to get a global eSIM from Airalo. Their biggest global plan costs $69 for 20GB in 127 countries for 365 days. This annual global plan costs double and expires after one year, but you’d get roughly 10x more data out of it. 

Then again, if you’re just using it for short-term emergencies, you may not need that much data to begin with. 

Flexiroam

Price: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Ease of setup: ⭐️
Customer service: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Avg. Plan Variety: 9 plan options
Regions covered*: 200+ regions
Data sharing: Yes
Standout features: Flexishare (send data to someone elses phone), frequent global plan discounts
Read full Flexiroam review

Flexiroam has some good things going for it, but one big flaw that makes it not worth it. 

Let’s start with the good — it has more plan variety than all other companies I tested. Many countries even have tiny 1-day 500mb plans for emergencies or if you’re just on a quick layover in a country. 

They also have huge discounts on global data plans every couple months. If you don’t buy with a discount, the plans are quite expensive compared to the competition.

The big downside is the user interface and setup process is super clunky and buggy. 

It worked for me well for a while. But at one point, it just stopped working, and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. 

Unlike our top international eSIM recommendations above, Flexiroam does not “just work”. It is finicky and frustrating.

GigSky 

Price: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Ease of setup: ⭐️⭐️
Customer service: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Avg. Plan Variety: 3 plan options
Regions covered*: 190+ regions
Data sharing: Yes
Standout features: Convenient auto-install after in-app purchase, unique plans like offshore (ocean) coverage
Read full GigSky review 

GigSky has some cool features, but these are overshadowed by some blunders. 

I like how it prompts you to auto-install your eSIM right after buying in the app. It’s a super streamlined process. 

The problem is, they don’t give any instructions on what settings you’re supposed to use.

For example, to get mine to work, I had to toggle on Data Roaming. But there were no GigSky instructions saying to do this. 

If you’ve never set up an eSIM before, that’s a recipe for frustration.

Also, it seems like the website is completely separate from the app. That means if you buy on the website, you can’t manage the eSIM in the app, and vice versa. This is weird and inconvenient. 

Customer service wasn’t great — about 30 minutes to respond.

Lastly, other than the price, length, and data amount, they don’t give you many details about the plan you’re buying (like if data sharing works, what network you’ll be on, if it includes calls, etc). 

I like to know exactly what I’m getting before I buy something, so this bugged me. 

Use discount code MITC174 for free credits

SimOptions

Price: ⭐️⭐️
Ease of setup: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Customer service: ⭐️
Avg. Plan Variety: 1
Regions covered*: 200+ regions
Data sharing: Yes
Standout features: Speed test results (for the plan I bought) was faster than average
Read full SimOptions review (coming soon)

SimOptions had the lowest rankings of the companies tested. 

The installation instructions were decent. But prices seem more expensive, and there is no app. 

However, what bothered me the most was the website. On the surface, it looks professional. But once you start testing things, it starts to feel like a front. 

They claim 24/7 customer service, but my customer service inquiry NEVER got responded to. Out of all the companies, this was the only one that never got back to me. 

They claim they always sell at retail price and that you’ll never find a cheaper option, but in our price comparison research, SimOptions never had the cheapest prices. 

Lastly, they have star ratings listed for each eSIM package, but if you click through, it takes you to their general Reviews page (and doesn’t show anything specific to the package you’re interested in). 

I also searched packages in several different countries, and every single one had either a 4.9 or 5-star rating, so it all just feels a little fake.

MobiMatter

Price: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Ease of setup: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Customer service: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Avg. Plan Variety: 3 plan options
Regions covered*: 200+ regions
Data sharing: Yes (on most)
Standout features: Cheapest global plan I’ve seen (did not test though)
Read full MobiMatter review (coming soon)

MobiMatter ended up being a decent option with fair prices, but it wasn’t my favorite. 

They have some weirdly specific regional plans, like Singapore + Malaysia + Thailand (and tons more combinations like this). 

When you search for a country, at first glance it seems like there are a million different plan options to choose from. 

But in reality, they are tied for the worst variety in plan options (i.e. average number of local eSIMs for one specific country).

It just seems like a lot of options because they mix local, regional, and global plans all together.

This makes it significantly harder to sort through and compare options. 

They also completely forget to explain how to set up your eSIM the “manual” way (i.e. pasting in the activation codes to your settings). 

If you don’t have a second device to scan the QR code, you need to use the manual setup method. And if you’re a first-time eSIM user, this could be frustrating to figure out without proper instructions.

Maya Mobile

Price: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Ease of setup: ⭐️*
Customer service: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Avg. Plan Variety: 28 plan options
Regions covered*: 194 countries
Data sharing: Yes (apart from Lite unlimited plan)
Standout features: “Unlimited” plans with data sharing (on Standard and Max plans)
Read full Maya Mobile review (coming soon)

Maya Mobile could have been one of the highest-ranked providers if it weren’t for a couple of annoying problems. 

They have the highest plan variety (average number of plan options) in the countries included in our sample — including both normal and unlimited plans. 

Prices are competitive — never the absolute cheapest, but usually within a fair range. 

There’s no app, but the website is clean and easy to use. Well, that assumes you can actually create an account…

I wasted an hour of my life trying to fill out a buggy sign-up form.

I tried on several different days using VPNs, incognito mode, Safari, Chrome, wifi, tethering to my phone…you name it. But whenever I clicked submit, I got the never-ending loading ball of death.

Maybe it was just a fluke, but be warned. 

I may give Maya another chance in the future. But since I wasted so many neurons trying (and failing) to log in, I prefer Airalo or Holafly, which have never given me such headaches. 

BNESIM

Price: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Ease of setup: ⭐️
Customer service: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Avg. Plan Variety: 5 plan options
Regions covered*: 170
Data sharing: Yes
Standout features: Lifetime data plans
Read full BNESIM review

BNESIM (AKA “Best Network Ever”) has a cute name, but I wasn’t impressed. 

Prices are in line with other eSIM providers and they have decent plan variety. 

But the website looks a bit sketch. I actually felt a little wary typing in my credit card number to buy my eSIM. Their app looks more professional, but it was a bit buggy and wouldn’t always load correctly. 

Speaking of which, there are actually two apps, which adds to the confusion. 

I also found the setup instructions quite confusing and contradictory. If you’ve installed eSIMs before, you could figure it out. But if it’s your first time, it might feel confusing.

Their customer service was surprisingly decent, responding within 3 to 10 minutes each time. 

Overall, BNESIM might have potential someday once they work out all the kinks. But for now, I’d stick with more established providers like Airalo (for light data users) or Holafly (for heavy data users). 

Best Travel eSIM for Long-Term Travelers and Nomads

If you’re a long-term traveler, it might be worth looking into “normal” phone plans in your home country that include international data as part of the plan.

For example, two plans that come to mind for US citizens are Google Fi and US Mobile’s Premium Unlimited plan.

Google Fi costs $65/month for one person and includes international data.

The catch is that you’re not meant to spend more than 90 consecutive days abroad. If you do, you risk having your plan shut off.

US Mobile’s Premium Unlimited plan costs $50/month at the time of writing (or $37.50/month paid annually). According to their customer service, it does not have the same 90-day restriction as Google Fi.

The downside to US Mobile is that you’re limited to between 1GB and 10GB of data per month, depending on the country you’re in.

Both of these plans will likely cost you more per month than simply buying Airalo or Holafly for your travels.

But if don’t want to worry about loading up travel eSIMs, then the extra convenience may be worth the price.

Neither of these two plans were part of my experiment, but they’re worth mentioning.

Methods and Procedures

Here’s the “long version” of how I gathered data and assigned rankings for this study.

Choosing International eSIM Providers to Test

For this study, I focused on eSIM providers that are already somewhat established.

To find these companies, I used a keyword research tool to measure the average number of times people search for the brand name in Google each month.

I chose the eSIM companies with the highest search volume I could find, and companies with zero search volume were automatically disqualified.

New eSIM companies are popping up every day, but most of them are so small (i.e. nobody is searching for them) that it’s extremely unlikely they would have the resources required to be the best travel eSIM in 2024.

Sample Countries

Each eSIM company offers different plans for different countries. To get a representative sample, I chose six of the top tourist destinations from different regions/continents around the globe.

🇫🇷 France (Europe)
🇲🇦 Morocco (Africa)
🇹🇭 Thailand (Asia)
🇦🇷 Argentina (South America)
🇲🇽 Mexico (North America)
🇺🇸 USA (North America)

These countries were used for gathering data on price and plan variety. 

Price

Not all companies offer the exact same GB+length plans, so it’s often challenging to compare apples to apples.

Also, some companies have cheaper small plans, but more expensive large plans. 

To add to the complexity, it’s hard to compare “regular” prices, because some countries run limited-time sales, while others have a “sale” price that never changes. 

So to determine pricing ratings, I gathered data on the smallest and biggest plans offered by each company in the sample countries. From there, I marked the frequency at which each company had the cheapest plan.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ = Highest frequency of cheapest plans
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ = Occasional cheapest plan, almost always in the ballpark.
⭐️⭐️⭐️ = Never the cheapest, but usually in the ballpark.
⭐️⭐️ = Never the cheapest, often not in the ballpark.
⭐️ = All plans are significantly more expensive than the norm. 

*I added an asterisk to Holafly and Drimsim because they are special cases. 

Holafly ranked 5 stars, but this is only true for heavy data users who actually take advantage of the unlimited data. For light data users, Holafly plans are overkill.

Drimsim ranked 1 star because GB for GB, it is much more expensive than all other plans. However, due to its unique setup, it could be an inexpensive option as your “backup” data plan (as I explain in the Drimsim section).

Please note that this sample data covers 6 of the most popular tourist destinations in different regions, but there may be many pricing exceptions in other countries not covered. 

Plan Variety

To assess plan variety, I found the average number of local eSIM packages that each company offers per country.

I did not include regional or global plans that include the country in question, as this would complicate the data.

Customer Service

I reached out to each company’s customer service to ask a question about the eSIM I purchased, noting the time I reached out and the time I received a human response. 

Ratings were based on response times:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ = less than 2 minutes
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ = 2 to 10 minutes
⭐️⭐️⭐️ = 10 to 30 minutes
⭐️⭐️ = 30 minutes to 24 hours
⭐️ = No response

Ease of Setup

Ease of setup is a subjective rating based on my experience setting up each eSIM. 

I imagined how likely it would be for me to get confused if I were setting an eSIM up for the first time with no prior experience or technical know-how. 

The main things I looked for were:

☑️ If the eSIM provider offered an app in addition to their website.
☑️ User-friendliness and functionality of the app and/or website. 
☑️ How hard it was to find the setup instructions. 
☑️ How clear the instructions were, and if they included screenshots and video guides.
☑️ How buggy the setup process was.

The ratings I used were:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ = Amazing
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ = Pretty good
⭐️⭐️⭐️ = Average
⭐️⭐️ = Harder than necessary
⭐️ = Sucky

Regions Covered

Overall, this metric does not mean much. 

Most eSIM companies state how many “regions” or “destinations” they cover, but this is not the same as the number of countries. 

I could not find a definition of what they consider a “region” or “destination”. 

Many eSIM providers state that they cover 200+ destinations, but there are only 195 recognized countries in the world.

Just know that most eSIM companies will cover most of the places you want to go.

Data Speeds

I used the Speedtest app to test each eSIM in Chiang Mai, Thailand. 

You can find a screenshot of each speed test on the individual review pages for each eSIM. 

I decided not to include a speed test rating in this comparison because the actual speed doesn’t really depend on travel eSIM company — it comes down to the local carrier in a particular region. Since I only tested speeds in one city, it’s not fair to generalize the results worldwide. 

Plus, I found that many eSIM providers use the same local carriers, so you may see similar plans across multiple eSIM companies.

In the end, all eSIMs had data speeds fast enough to stream Youtube videos, which is enough for most travelers.

How to Choose the Best Travel eSIM

Overall, I found Airalo to be the best option for Normie Travelers and Holafly the best option for Data Hogs. 

In certain countries — especially in Southeast Asia — Nomad offered more plan variety than Airalo for Normie Travelers. 

These are the three companies I plan to use on my future trips. 

As I mentioned throughout this guide, there may be certain destinations where a different company has the best deal.

But in these cases, the price difference is usually minimal. And to me, it’s not worth the hassle of comparing prices across 10+ companies just to save a couple bucks. 

The whole point of using an eSIM is convenience. You save time not having to hunt down a physical SIM upon arrival. But if you’re wasting an hour comparing eSIM prices, you lose that convenience factor. 

I recommend choosing one or two companies you like best and sticking with them. Many offer rewards points, so by staying loyal to one company, you can often earn discounts on future eSIMs. 

I hope you found this experiment helpful — it took months to put together, so if you want to say “Thanks, Mitch!”, I’d be thrilled if you purchased your eSIM using our affiliate buttons on this page. This helps support my nerdy travel experiments at no extra charge to you. 🤓

Mitch's Travel Recommendations:
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Safetywing Insurance - This cheap travel insurance has saved me over $15,000 in medical bills.
Booking.com - Book accommodation without adding your credit card (in case you need to cancel).
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Flexjobs - Find remote jobs without having to sift through crappy ones.
Skillshare - Free trial to take unlimited classes that teach digital nomad skills.
Wise - Send and receive money abroad cheaply (great for freelancers).

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