Airalo Review: Is This eSIM Right For You?

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Looking for a firsthand Airalo review? 

I’ve got you covered. I’ve used Airalo since early 2023 on multiple trips abroad to Asia, Europe and South America. As someone who used to rely on physical SIM cards when traveling, switching to an eSIM has been a game-changer in terms of convenience and practicality. 

👉 New customers: Use code NEWMAY15 for 15% off a purchase of $10 or more!

Existing customers: use code AIRALOMAY10 for 10% off!

My Airalo Review as a Frequent Traveler

In recent years, several eSIMs have emerged on the market. The only one I’ve used is Airalo, for no other reason than it’s the one I started with and has served me well so far.

So, I keep going back to it. I haven’t felt a need to try out any other ones yet. It’s also been available to use in every country I’ve needed it in so far, so again no need for me to switch to something different. 

It’s important to note that most, if not all, Airalo eSIMs are data-only. If you need to be able to make calls and send messages that are not supported by internet, you’ll need to find a different option.

I tend to only use my phone for data when traveling, and I stick to Whatsapp or FaceTime for connecting with friends and family. 

In general, I’ve ditched physical SIM cards for good. Here are a few reasons why I prefer eSIM cards. 

They Save Valuable Vacation Time 

Bi Ben clock tower

When I first heard about eSIMs, I was instantly excited at the prospect. Before, I would have to purchase a physical SIM card upon arrival to each new destination. Every place had a different setup process to get the SIM card working.

I remember in Costa Rica, my local friend was on the phone with customer service on my behalf for at least an hour in Spanish to get my SIM properly set up. 

In Mexico City, I went with a friend to a physical phone shop because her physical SIM card was having issues. We spent a long time with the store staff trying to troubleshoot it before finally agreeing to replace it completely. 

Once, in Paris, the closest shop for my particular SIM card and phone plan needs was across the city by train. 

The amount of time I’ve wasted on finding and installing physical SIM cards while traveling seems laughable now that eSIMs are so readily available. 

More Environmentally Conscious 

SIM card from a vending machine in London

Even in London, where it was easy to buy a physical SIM card from a vending machine right at the airport, it now seems silly to have had to unpack a giant box for a small card.

And then, to save or toss these cards after a trip? None of it feels environmentally sound anymore, either. 

Quick and Convenient 

Especially as a solo traveler, I prefer to be instantly connected when I arrive somewhere new. It’s helpful to be able to communicate with loved ones right away, and to be able to easily navigate to my accommodations using Google maps.

Airport wifi isn’t always available or reliable. Physical SIM card shopping at the airport is also not my idea of a fun, first thing to do at a new destination.

Having an eSIM already set up on my phone allows me to have everything I need right when I arrive. To me, that’s incredibly worthwhile. 

My Airalo Experiences Around the World 

screenshot of destinations to choose from in Airalo eSIM app

I’ve pulled up my Airalo orders so I can show you examples of where I’ve used Airalo and how much I’ve spent.

Now, an eSIM might cost more than physical SIM cards sometimes (I think, I can’t remember how much I used to spend on physical SIM cards) but to me it’s well worth it for the above reasons. 

I also tend to travel for long stretches, and use a lot of data. So, my costs may be higher than what you can expect for your needs. 

Europe eSIM

On my most recent trip through France, I used Airalo seamlessly. For an 18-day trip, I purchased a 10 GB plan that was valid for 30 days. The original price was $23.00, but there was a 50% off discount at the time (a nice surprise) bringing my cost down to $11.50. 

My Airalo Japan Experience

The first time I ever used an Airalo eSIM was on my trip to Japan. I was in Japan for nearly a full month. I was using my phone not only to navigate, but also for help translating as there was quite a language barrier for me.

In total, I spent $36.00 on Airalo eSIM for my entire trip. That was split as $18 each for two, 10 GB eSIM purchases.  

Airalo in Colombia

In Colombia, I spent $23 in total for about an 8-10 day trip. First, I bought a 1 GB plan for $8.00. Four days later, I decided to top it up with a 2 GB plan for an additional $15.00.

Airalo eSim: How to Use It

Using Airalo eSIM is pretty straightforward, and the website or app guides you through it. Whether you’re a new customer or you’ve used Airalo before, remember to use the codes at the top of this post for a discount on your eSIM purchase!

How Does Airalo eSim work?

First, choose your destination. Then, choose your plan. You can refer to the plans I’ve chosen, listed above, to help guide you based on your trip duration. And remember, you can always top up later on if you need to. 

When installing and activating your eSIM, you’ll want to make sure you’re connected to the internet. Don’t wait until arriving in a new destination to do this, if you’re worried about not having immediate internet connection.

In most cases, your arrival airport should have some sort of free wifi available but it’s not guaranteed. 

I recommend setting up your eSIM before you leave for your trip. For my most recent France trip, I purchased and set up my eSIM at the airport before boarding my flight to Paris. 

When setting up your eSIM, you’ll be prompted to label it. Name it based on your destination so it’s easy to keep track, such as ‘Japan.’ 

You can find more detailed instructions about how to access and finish set up on an iPhone or Android phone here. This way, you’ll know exactly where to go to toggle your eSIM on or off. 

If you want to be mindful about preserving your data, consider keeping your phone on airplane mode while traveling when you’re not actively using it. 

Airalo Compatible Phones

First and foremost, you need to make sure your phone is unlocked. This goes for whether you opt for an eSIM or physical SIM while traveling. Essentially, if your phone is locked you will only be able to use the SIM card from your phone’s carrier. 

Contact your carrier if you need your phone unlocked.

Beyond that, you can view the full list of devices compatible with Airalo.

eSIM FAQs

airalo screenshot of data and calling plan

If you’re considering using an eSIM for your next international trip, you might be wondering about some of these questions. Here are some responses, based on my own experiences. 

Is it better to use eSIM or physical SIM?

An eSIM is a more convenient alternative to a physical SIM card for travelers. It can save time and be more practical. 

Does eSIM slow down your phone?

No, an eSIM will not slow down your phone.

Is eSIM better for international travel? 

Personally, as a frequent traveler, I prefer eSIMs for international travel. 

Does eSIM give you a phone number?

A data-only eSIM will not give you a phone number, since making calls will not be included. But Airalo does have some eSIMs, like the Discover+ Global eSIM, that does come with an international phone number for calling and texting.  

Final Thoughts on the Airalo eSIM

There you have it, a firsthand Airalo review. If you’re considering using an eSIM on your next trip, I highly recommend going for it. And based on my experience, the Airalo eSIM is a great choice.