Skip to Content

International Roaming vs eSIM: Which is Better for Travel Abroad

Last updated on July 7th, 2024 at 01:44 am

international roaming, international roaming vs esim, international roaming vs esims, roaming fees, roaming charges

In this guide, we are comparing the Pros and Cons of international roaming vs eSIM technologies. While international roaming may seem more convenient, eSIM is better to avoid hefty roaming fees.

As technology continues to evolve, travelers are faced with an increasing number of options for staying connected while abroad. One of the most critical decisions they have to make is choosing between international roaming and eSIM technologies. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the pros and cons of roaming vs eSIM, helping you make an informed decision for your next trip overseas. Read here Holafly vs Airalo best eSim for United States and best sim for Europe


Two of our favorite travel insurance: Heymondo Vs Safetwing cheapest travel Insurance. You can get for $135 USD your Heymondo Travel Insurance with Heymondo discount code valid for 90 days. Read our full comparison of Genki vs Safetywing Travel Insurance Review and the comparison Heymondo vs Genki

What is International Roaming?

International roaming allows you to use your existing mobile phone plan’s voice, text, and data services when traveling outside your home country. It is typically provided by your mobile network operator, and you’ll be charged based on the rates and fees set by your carrier.

Pros of International Roaming

  1. Familiarity: International roaming enables you to use your existing mobile phone number and device while traveling abroad, ensuring a seamless experience for both you and your contacts.
  2. Convenience: With international roaming, there’s no need to buy a local SIM card or change your device’s settings, making it a hassle-free option for short trips.
  3. Emergency Services Access: International roaming provides access to local emergency services, such as dialing 112 in Europe or 911 in the United States.

Cons of International Roaming

  1. High Costs: International roaming fees can be exorbitant, leading to expensive bills upon your return home. Some carriers offer roaming packages, but they can still be costly compared to other options.
  2. Limited Coverage: Roaming coverage varies between carriers and destinations, potentially leading to a lack of service in certain areas.
  3. Slow Data Speeds: Depending on your carrier and destination, you may experience slower data speeds while roaming.

Related article: The Hidden Costs of International Roaming

international roaming, international roaming vs esim, international roaming vs esims, roaming fees, roaming charges

What is an eSIM?

An eSIM (embedded SIM) is a digital version of a traditional SIM card. Instead of inserting a physical SIM card into your phone, the eSIM is built into the device, allowing you to switch between carriers and plans without physically changing the SIM card.

Check the most popular eSIM: Ubigi

Pros of eSIM

  1. Cost Savings: eSIM technology often provides lower costs for international data and calls compared to international roaming. Many eSIM providers offer pay-as-you-go plans, giving you better control over your expenses.
  2. Flexibility: eSIM allows you to switch between carriers and plans quickly, providing more options and flexibility while traveling.
  3. Space-Saving: With eSIM, there’s no need to carry multiple physical SIM cards, making it a space-saving and environmentally friendly option.

Cons of eSIM

  1. Device Compatibility: eSIM technology is still relatively new, and not all devices support it. Before considering eSIM, ensure your device is compatible.
  2. Limited Carrier Options: While eSIM adoption is growing, not all carriers support it, potentially limiting your choices.
  3. Potential Activation Challenges: Activating an eSIM may require internet access, which can be an issue if you’re already abroad without connectivity.

Related article: How to Choose the Right eSIM Provider for Your Travel Needs

Roaming vs eSIM: Which is Better for Travel Abroad?

When comparing international roaming vs eSIM, it’s essential to consider your specific needs and circumstances. Here are some key factors to consider:

Trip Duration

For short trips, international roaming may be more convenient, especially if your carrier offers affordable roaming packages. However, for longer trips or frequent travelers, eSIM technology can provide significant cost savings and flexibility.


If you’re traveling on a tight budget, eSIM is likely the better option, as it can offer more affordable data and calling rates compared to international roaming.

Device Compatibility

Before choosing between international roaming and eSIM, verify that your device is compatible with eSIM technology. If your device doesn’t support eSIM, international roaming may be your only option.

Coverage and Data Speeds

Consider the coverage and data speeds offered by your carrier for international roaming and the eSIM providers you’re considering. If you require fast and reliable data speeds, eSIM may be a better choice, as international roaming can sometimes result in slower speeds.


International roaming offers the advantage of using your existing phone number and device without any setup or configuration. However, eSIM provides the benefit of quickly switching between carriers and plans as needed. Weigh the convenience of each option based on your personal preferences and travel habits.

Related article: Setting Up Your eSIM for International Travel – Check eSIM Phone Compatibility


Sometimes is hard to connect your laptop to the VPN and you have to be patient. If you go for a week you will find VPN with free trials. We used Atlas VPN, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Surfshark and Proton VPN. When connecting the VPN to your device will make it slower than usual.

Read here Atlas VPN vs Surfshark VPNAtlas VPN full reviewAtlas VPN vs Proton VPNNord VPN vs Surfshark VPNExpressVPN vs Surfshark VPNIPVanish vs Surfshark VPNAtlas VPN vs ExpressVPN and Atlas VPN vs Nord VPN

Tips for Reducing International Roaming Costs

While international roaming can be expensive, there are ways to minimize costs and avoid bill shock upon returning home. Here are some tips to help you save money when using international roaming:

  1. Roaming Packages: Check with your carrier for available roaming packages, which can include a set amount of data, minutes, and texts for a fixed price. These packages can help you save compared to pay-as-you-go roaming rates.
  2. Wi-Fi Calling: Utilize Wi-Fi calling whenever possible to make calls and send texts over Wi-Fi networks, bypassing roaming charges.
  3. Offline Navigation: Download maps and directions before your trip to avoid relying on data-consuming GPS apps.
  4. Data Management: Disable automatic app updates, background data usage, and data-hungry apps to minimize data consumption while roaming.
  5. Local SIM Card: If your device supports it, consider using a local SIM card for data and calls in your destination country, while keeping your home SIM card for receiving texts and emergency use.

Related article: How to Avoid International Roaming Bill Shock

eSIM Use Cases for Frequent Travelers

international roaming, international roaming vs esim, international roaming vs esims, roaming fees, roaming charges

eSIM technology offers various benefits that make it an attractive option for frequent travelers. Here are some use cases that highlight the advantages of using eSIM:

  1. Business Travel: eSIM enables you to maintain your personal phone number while adding a separate business line for work-related calls and texts, keeping your work and personal life separate.
  2. Digital Nomads: As a digital nomad, you can easily switch between local carriers and plans, ensuring you always have access to the best data rates and coverage in your current location.
  3. Cross-Border Commuters: If you live and work in different countries, eSIM allows you to switch between local carriers on the fly, avoiding international roaming charges and ensuring reliable connectivity.
  4. Travel Bloggers and Influencers: With eSIM, you can access affordable and fast data plans, allowing you to stay connected and share your experiences with your audience in real time.

Related article: Top Travel eSIM for Digital Nomads and Frequent Travelers

How to Get Started with eSIM

If you’ve decided that eSIM is the right choice for your travel needs, follow these steps to get started:

  1. Verify Device Compatibility: Ensure that your device supports eSIM technology. Many newer smartphones, including the latest iPhone and Android models, offer eSIM compatibility.
  2. Choose an eSIM Provider: Research eSIM providers that offer coverage in your destination country and compare plans based on data allowance, calling rates, and validity.
  3. Purchase and Activate: Purchase the eSIM plan that best fits your needs, and follow the provider’s instructions to activate the eSIM on your device.
  4. Manage Your eSIM: Use your device’s settings to manage your eSIM, including switching between carriers and plans, and monitoring your data usage.

Ubigi – Recommended eSIM for International Travel

Ubigi best eSIM prices

Ubigi is one of the most affordable eSIMs in Europe. It offers efficient connectivity to more than 200+ destinations worldwide.

One of the cheapest European eSIMs now goes to Ubigi, with plans starting at $2 USD for their 500MB plan.

See their plans here.

Ubigi also has extended eSIM plans in Europe. These eSIM plans that you can use in multiple countries are best when planning to hop around in your travel, whether for leisure or business.

500MB Ubigi Europe eSIM for $2 USD valid for 1 day

1GB Europe Extended eSIM for $8 USD valid for 30 days

3GB Europe eSIM for $9 USD valid for 30 days

10GB Europe eSIM for $15 USD valid for 7 days

10GB Scandinavia & Baltic eSIM $15 USD valid for 30 days

Find all Ubigi eSIM Plans here. Use GAMINTRAVELER discount code for 10% OFF on your Ubigi Plan.

Verdict: International Roaming vs eSIM, Which One is Better for Travel

In conclusion, the choice between international roaming and eSIM depends on factors such as trip duration, budget, device compatibility, coverage, data speeds, and convenience. While international roaming might be more suitable for short trips and for those who prioritize familiarity, eSIM technology offers cost savings, flexibility, and better data speeds for longer trips or frequent travelers.

As eSIM technology continues to advance and become more widely adopted, it is likely that an increasing number of travelers will opt for eSIM over international roaming for their communication needs abroad. However, it’s essential to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each option based on your specific needs and preferences to determine which is the best fit for your travel plans.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on these links and make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Please note that we only recommend products and services that we have personally used or believe will add value to our readers. Your support through these links helps us to continue creating informative and engaging content. Thank you for your support!