eSIM vs Data Roaming: Which 1 is better for Travelers?


An eSIM, or embedded SIM, is a small chip that is built into your device and can be programmed with different network profiles. This means that you can switch between different networks without having to physically swap out a SIM card. This is particularly useful for travelers, as you can easily activate a local network’s instead of paying for expensive data roaming charges. Additionally, this can also be used for multiple devices, such as smartwatches or tablets, making it even more convenient for users. While eSIMS are still relatively new, they are quickly gaining popularity as a more flexible and cost-effective alternative to traditional SIM cards. 


What is eSIM

The concept of eSIM revolves around providing a more flexible and convenient solution for accessing mobile networks. With this, the SIM card information, including network credentials and subscriber data, is stored securely within the device’s embedded SIM chip. This eliminates the need for a physical SIM card slot and allows for remote provisioning and activation of mobile network profiles. 

Difference between SIM and eSIM

SIM: A traditional SIM card is a physical, removable card that is inserted into a SIM card slot in a device. It contains a microchip with integrated circuits and metal contacts that establish a connection between the device and the mobile network. Traditional SIM cards require manual provisioning and activation. Users need to physically obtain a SIM card from a mobile network operator or retailer, insert it into their device, and follow activation procedures provided by the operator. A physical SIM card stores network credentials and user data. If users want to switch between mobile network operators, they need to physically swap SIM cards, which may require changing settings or restarting the device. Traditional SIM cards are tied to specific mobile network operators and often require separate physical cards for different countries or operators. This can be inconvenient when traveling or switching networks frequently. 

eSIM, on the other hand, is a digital SIM card that is embedded within the device’s hardware. It is integrated into the device during manufacturing and cannot be physically removed or replaced. eSIMs support remote provisioning and activation. Users can download eSIM profiles from their mobile network operator or eSIM service provider. The profiles can be remotely provisioned onto the chip in the device, eliminating the need for a physical SIM card. Users can have multiple profiles stored on their devices simultaneously. Switching between profiles is done through the device settings, allowing for seamless transitions between networks without the need to physically replace a SIM card. This allows easier access to local data plans while traveling internationally and simplifies managing multiple profiles on a single device. 



Airalo is a company that provides eSIM (embedded SIM) services to customers around the world.  With Airalo, you can conveniently access local data plans and voice services in various destinations, making it particularly useful for international travelers or individuals who frequently switch between different countries. 

Cost Savings: This can be more cost-effective than relying on roaming services provided by your primary mobile network operator. Airalo’s plans are designed to offer competitive rates, helping you save money on data and voice services while traveling.

Convenience: You can eliminate the hassle of purchasing local SIM cards and dealing with compatibility issues. You can easily switch between different data plans and operators using your device’s settings, making it a convenient solution for frequent travelers.

Global Coverage: Support multiple mobile network operators worldwide. This allows you to access reliable data and voice services in various destinations without having to rely on local SIM cards.

Easy Activation: You can purchase an eSIM profile from the Airalo website or through their mobile app. Once you have the eSIM profile, you can easily download and install it on your compatible device.

Flexibility: Airalo offers a range of data plans to suit different needs, including short-term plans for travelers and long-term plans for those staying in a specific country for an extended period. This flexibility allows you to choose the plan that best fits your requirements.

It’s important to note that eSIM support varies across different devices and mobile network operators. While many modern smartphones, tablets, and other devices now support eSIM functionality, it’s recommended to check the compatibility of your device before purchasing an Airalo eSIM. Click Here to check on compatibility. 



Profile Selection: Users can visit the Airalo website or use the Airalo mobile app to browse and select eSIM profiles for specific countries or regions.

Purchase and Activation: Once users have selected the desired profile, they can proceed with the purchase. Payment is made through the Airalo platform using various payment methods. After the purchase, users receive an activation code or QR code that corresponds to their chosen eSIM profile.

eSIM Download and Activation: Users need to ensure their device is eSIM compatible. This can typically be found in the device settings or specifications. Using their device, users can download the Airalo eSIM app from the App Store (for iOS devices) or Google Play Store (for Android devices). The app facilitates the installation and activation of the eSIM profile.

Profile Installation: Within the Airalo app, users can scan the QR code or enter the activation code provided during the purchase process. This triggers the installation of the eSIM profile on their device. The profile contains the necessary network credentials and information for connecting to the selected mobile network operator.

Network Connection: Once the eSIM profile is installed, users can access their device’s network settings and select the Airalo eSIM profile as their active cellular plan. The device will then connect to the chosen mobile network operator, providing mobile data, voice, and messaging services in the selected country or region.

Profile Management: The Airalo app allows users to manage their eSIM profiles. They can view their active profiles, switch between different profiles when traveling to different countries, and purchase additional profiles if needed. The app also provides information on data usage, remaining balances, and validity periods.

Support and Assistance: Airalo provides customer support to assist users with any questions or issues they may encounter during the eSIM activation or usage process.




As an eSIM provider, Airalo offers global coverage in multiple countries and regions around the world. The exact coverage of Airalo depends on the partnerships and agreements it has with mobile network operators in each country. Here’s an overview of Airalo’s coverage:

Asia-Pacific: Airalo provides eSIM coverage in various countries across the Asia-Pacific region, including popular destinations like Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand, and more.

Europe: Airalo offers eSIM coverage in numerous European countries, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, and others.

Americas: Airalo extends its coverage to North and South America, including countries like the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and more.

Middle East and North Africa: Airalo provides eSIM coverage in several countries in the Middle East region, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and Jordan.  In Africa, such as South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Ghana, and more



eSIM and data roaming are both methods of accessing mobile data while traveling internationally, but they differ in terms of functionality, cost, and convenience. Here are the key differences between eSIM and data roaming:

ACTIVATION AND SETUP: eSIM, users can easily activate and set up a local data plan for the specific country they are visiting. They can download the profile remotely and activate it on their device, eliminating the need to physically swap SIM cards or visit a local store ♦ Data roaming requires users to have a compatible SIM card from their home network operator and enable the roaming feature. Activation and setup are typically done by contacting the home operator or changing settings on the device. In some cases, users may need to manually select a local network upon arrival.

COST: Providers like Airalo often offer competitive rates and flexible data plans tailored to specific countries or regions. Users can choose plans that suit their data needs, duration of stay, and budget. This can result in cost savings compared to traditional roaming charges ♦ Data roaming can be expensive, as it often involves higher data rates and additional charges imposed by the home network operator. Users may incur high costs for using data services while roaming, especially for larger data consumption or extended periods.

FLEXIBILITY: You can choose and switch between different local data plans from various mobile network operators in the destination country. This allows users to select the most suitable plan based on data allowances, network coverage, and pricing ♦ Data roaming typically limits users to the services and coverage provided by their home network operator. They may have limited options for choosing alternative networks or data plans, depending on agreements between operators.

CONVENIENCE: Offering convenience as users can easily switch between different eSIM profiles or local data plans on their devices without the need to physically swap SIM cards. It simplifies the process of obtaining and managing data connectivity while traveling ♦ Data roaming can be less convenient as it often requires users to physically change SIM cards or rely on their home network operator’s roaming agreements. Users may need to manually configure settings or encounter compatibility issues with different networks or devices.

NETWORK COVERAGE: eSIM allows users to access local mobile networks in the destination country, providing reliable coverage and potentially better data speeds. Users can choose the network with the best coverage and performance based on their location and need ♦ Data roaming relies on the roaming agreements between the home network operator and foreign network operators. The coverage and data speeds may vary, and users may encounter limitations or reduced service quality in certain areas.



Here we have 4 categories of people who benefit from them.

Category 1: John’s Travel Adventures

John, an avid traveler, shares his experience during his backpacking trip across multiple countries.  This gives him the convenience of switching between local data plans without changing SIM cards.

Category 2: Sarah’s Expat Life

Sarah is an expatriate working abroad who maintains connectivity while transitioning between countries.  This gives her the flexibility of long-term plans and the ease of managing multiple profiles.

Category 3: Mark’s Business Trips

Mark, a frequent business traveler and while on international trips have access to data and voice services.  This saves him way more money compared to traditional roaming charges.

Category 4: Emma’s Digital Nomad Lifestyle

Emma is a digital nomad who now has an indispensable tool for her remote work and travel lifestyle.  She loves how it gives her global coverage and a hassle-free activation process.


Overall, eSIM offers greater flexibility, convenience, and the ability to remotely provision and activate mobile network profiles. While traditional SIM cards are still widely used, this technology is emerging as promising for simplifying mobile connectivity. 

It’s important to note that the availability of services and network coverage varies across countries and mobile network operators. While eSIM offers advantages in terms of flexibility and cost savings, data roaming can still be a viable option depending on specific travel circumstances and the user’s mobile plan. Before traveling, it is advisable to compare the options available, check device compatibility, and consider factors such as data requirements, duration of stay, and destination coverage. 


Related articles


Cheap Travel Deals to USA, Mexico and the Caribbean

Start Booking Now

Enjoy up to 80% of Travel Discounts

All Inclusive Packages

Adults Only Packages

Family Vacations