The best eSIM for international travel (and how to use it)

How do you use your phone overseas without it costing a fortune while you travel?

After all, you’ll need it for maps, making bookings, checking flight times, catching public transport, as a translator and calling home. It’s a travel essential.

The short and simple answer is that an overseas eSIM is the most convenient type of plan to get when you’re travelling. It’s usually cheaper than paying international roaming rates on your Aussie phone plan.

eSIMs are an easy option when you travel, although you can use physical SIMs too. eSIMs work just the same way, except an eSIM is a reprogrammable chip embedded into your phone that connects to your phone plan via a link or QR code.

Let’s quickly look at the difference between international roaming to buying an eSIM from your destination country. In some cases, roaming is a better option.

jetpac logo, esim plan

No-fuss global roaming with one eSIM

✔ Choose from global roaming (100+ countries) or a specific region

✔ Use one eSIM to access internet worldwide with automatic connection

✔ Data packs are prepaid, meaning no hidden fees

✔ Register for free lounge access if your flight is delayed


International roaming packs: these are add-on’s for your existing Australian plan. 

  • For a daily fee, you can get limited call minutes, texts and data while you’re overseas using your regular plan (activated through your plan’s app). 
  • Fees might start at $5 per day, but also come with a tiny amount of data, so costs can add up. 
  • Not all plan providers offer an international roaming option.
  • It’s not the cheapest option for long trips.
  • Most people choose this as it’s the easiest.

Buy a local SIM card: you can buy a physical card, or ‘download’ an eSIM plan instantly from your destination country.

  • This is the cheapest way to use your phone overseas.
  • It’s also the easiest, thanks to the eSIM, which means you can access your new plan instantly rather than hunting for a SIM card at local stores when you arrive.
  • You can have multiple eSIM plans ready to activate when you switch countries.
  • Remember to use all your data before you leave so you get the most value for money.
❗ If you’re only going overseas for a short time, you might find roaming packs cost-effective and more convenient. You can compare plans with international roaming here.

Let’s look at how to buy an overseas eSIM so you can use your phone like a local. 

Preparing for your trip.

First, compare plan providers in the country you’re going to. We’ve listed some of the most popular providers (called ‘carriers’, in some countries) to give you a place to start.

You’ll need to compare the price and the data amount. Some plans may cover more than one country, which saves a lot of hassle if you’re crossing several borders.

Should you buy an eSIM or a physical SIM? Without question, eSIMs are much easier to use than a physical SIM, especially when you’re on the road. It’s the most convenient way to use your phone as soon as you touch down, and be able to switch between SIM plans for different countries. 

Before you buy an eSIM, remember to check if your phone is compatible from this list:

You will see the name of the carrier you’re connected to which will be different to your Aussie network. You might also see LTE instead of 4G as well.

We have a list of compatible phones here.Activating your international eSIM

Travel eSIMS activate in different ways. Some eSIMs only activate once they connect to a supported overseas network, which means you can buy the plan and set it up in Australia ready to go.

Other plans will start from the moment you set it up, which could mean the plan commences before you’re ready to use it. The plan should state it’s official activation time in its terms and conditions.

Finding a travel eSIM

Online searches are your friend. To get you started, here are some of the most popular phone plan providers around the world.

Airalo Discover Global eSIM

Airalo is one of the most prominent travel SIMs connecting 200+ countries.

✔ Choose from a range of plan lengths between 7 days and a year

✔ Up to 20Gb data available

✔ Easy-to-use app that takes moments to download and activate your new plan

✔ Earn credit when you refer friends


Holafly offers unlimited data on some plans and a variety of plan lengths and data sizes.

✔ Some destinations include 60 minutes to receive calls and 60 minutes to make calls

✔ Easily top up your data on the app

✔ Activate your plan before you depart and it will connect automatically when you arrive


Overseas data plans for 165+ countries  

✔ Competitive prices and no hidden fees

✔ Most plans are between 7 and 30 days

✔ Connects to local network when you arrive

✔ Easily add more data by buying a new plan before expiry


Competitively-priced plans for a huge range of countries

✔ Australia-based customer support

✔ eSIM activates automatically when you land

✔ ‘Explorer’ and ‘Tourist’ eSIMs cover multiple countries

What to look for in a travel eSIM

There are hundreds of overseas eSIMs to choose from. To help narrow down your search, ask yourself these questions.

What countries are you travelling to?
Some eSIM plans work across multiple countries, so check a few providers to find one that will cover as much of your trip as possible. For example your SIM may work in the USA but not in the Dominican Republic.

How long will you be gone?
Most travel eSIMs are a minimum of 7 days. From there, you can choose from 10 days, a month, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months…you get the picture.

What will you need to do with your phone?
If you’re after data-only, you’ll have plenty of plans to choose from. But, if you also want to make calls and send texts, you’ll need to look at adding an international roaming pack onto an Australian plan. Just remember you can make calls using internet-based services such as WhatsApp and Messenger with a data-only plan.

How much does the plan cost?
Finally, make sure the price per GB is competitive. Compare between a few providers until you find a plan that suits your trip and your budget.