Airalo Review: Is It a Good eSIM for International Travel? Here's Our Experience

Every digital nomad has been there: you land, and before the jet lag even hints at kicking in, you're on a mission for reliable internet. It's not just about posting that “just landed” selfie, it's about maintaining our careers while on the move.

So, if you're traveling soon and want to stay connected without the hassle, consider checking out eSIMs. Airalo, an eSIM provider with coverage in over 200 countries, is one of the most mentioned eSIM providers by travelers around the world. 

They promise to let you pick data plans that suit your trip abroad—whether you're sticking to one country or crossing continents.

But does it live up to the hype?

Airalo banner

In this in-depth review, we will take a closer look and share our hands-on experience testing this eSIM provider, trying to address all your burning questions.

Let's dive in and see if Airalo is the right option for international travelers like you.

What eSIM Plans Does Airalo Offer?

We're all different when it comes to traveling. Some of us like soaking up everything one place has to offer, others prefer backpacking across diverse regions, and then there are those who like hopping from continent to continent in a matter of weeks. 

Airalo knows that, and that's why they have designed a range of eSIM options for different types of travelers.

Each plan varies based on your destination and the duration of your data plans. Let's take a closer look at their main eSIM types. 

1. Airalo eSIMs by Destination

Airalo Local, Regional and Global eSIMs

For those exploring specific destinations, their local eSIMs are an optimal choice. Let’s say you're headed exclusively to Thailand, they've got a specific eSIM just for that country.

If instead, your trip includes staying in multiple countries in a region, like Europe or Southeast Asia, for example, using regional eSIMs is the way to go. These eSIMs provide you with internet access to a variety of destinations within the same region. 

For those with global itineraries, Airalo also offers global eSIMs to keep you connected almost anywhere. Just double-check to ensure your destinations are covered.

2. Airalo eSIMs by Duration

Airalo eSIM types by validity or duration

In terms of validity, we like that Airalo understands that traveler plans can be ever-changing, so they offer eSIMs with varying durations, ideal for both short trips and extended stays.

Usually, an Airalo eSIM's validity ranges between 7 days and 30 days. This does vary by country, though, with the Global eSIM being available for up to 180 days.

3. Airalo eSIMs by Data Allowance

Airalo eSIM type by data allowance

As for data allowances, there's a broad spectrum available. At Freaking Nomads we usually get by with about 2GB a week for our digital needs as we tend to use coworking spaces and cafes for the heavy lifting. 

But if you're the traveler type who loves streaming movies or needs to make a lot of video calls for work, you might need more. And Airalo seems to have you covered, offering impressive packages that go up to 50GB!

How Much Does Airalo Cost?

Nobody likes those one-size-fits-all deals, especially when they don't fit, right? Airalo's eSIM pricing varies based on several factors, including the destination, data allowance, and other specifics of the package chosen.

Here's a rough breakdown to give you a general idea as of the time of writing this review:

  • eSIM packages for Southeast Asia (e.g. Thailand or Vietnam) are often as low as $5 for around 3GB for a week to €20 for around 5G for 30 days. 
  • eSIM packages for Europe (e.g. France or Germany) are typically around $20 for 5GB, valid for 30 days. 
  • eSIM packages for North America (e.g. USA or Canada) have prices hovering around $25.50 for a 5GB/month package.

When it comes to regions, based on our observations, Africa tends to be on the pricier side for Airalo eSIMs, while Asia usually offers the most bang for your buck.

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Pro tip: Remember to buy in bulk to be more cost-effective with your eSIM purchases. If you know you'll be traveling or staying in a place for an extended period, it often pays to get a larger data package with longer validity. The per-GB price tends to drop significantly!

When we compare Airalo’s price tag to that of its competitors, the brand typically falls in the low range. They are definitely among the cheapest eSIM providers out there, and their user-friendly platform and quality of service often make them a top choice for us.

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Please note: This observation is in comparison only to other eSIM providers. And while Airalo eSIMs (and in general eSIMs) might sometimes be more expensive than local physical SIM cards, the convenience of avoiding shops, paperwork, and immediate setup often outweigh the marginal cost difference for us.

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Airalo Pros and Cons

Screenshots of my personal Airalo account

Having used Airalo in various parts of the world, we've had our fair share of shining experiences and those that had room for improvement.

Let's dive into what we genuinely appreciated and areas where we felt a tweak or two could have made the difference:

Pros and cons:

What we love
  • Comprehensive coverage in over 200 countries, making your global explorations smoother.
  • Intuitive and easy-to-use Airalo app that simplifies your data management.
  • Super flexible and cheap data plans with no hidden costs.
  • eSIMs link to the fastest local network available.
  • Airmoney loyalty benefits add value to every purchase, saving you money over time.
  • 24/7 fast and friendly customer support whenever you need assistance.
Things not so great
  • Some remote areas might experience less reliable service.
  • Most are data-only plans, lacking call and text features.
  • eSIMs don’t include a local phone number.

Like all tech solutions, Airalo is not without its quirks, but all in all, its pros undeniably outweigh the cons for international travelers.

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As a thank you for being our reader, you can use the Discount Code 'FN10' and get 10% OFF on all Airalo plans!

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How Does Airalo Work? A Step-by-Step Guide

We've used Airalo on a number of international trips for this review and found setting up their eSIM incredibly easy, whether you're tech-savvy or not.

It's digital, straightforward, and offers a truly user-friendly experience.

Here's what you need to do:

How Airalo eSIM works: Download the app, choose your destination and package, install your eSIM and activate your eSIM

STEP 1: Select Your eSIM Type and Destination

Kick off the process on the Airalo website or on their intuitive mobile app (which is our personal favorite for installing, purchasing, and monitoring data usage).

Start by deciding on the eSIM type – local, regional, or global. Then, depending on your choice, select either the specific country or region you'll be visiting.

STEP 2: Choose a Data Package

Once you've pinned down your destination or region, a range of eSIM data plans will pop up. These plans are transparent, showing you the price, data allowance, and validity period, ensuring you make an informed choice tailored to your travel duration and online needs.

STEP 3: Purchase your Chosen Plan

Now that you've found the perfect data package for your travel, purchasing your selected plan is as easy as clicking "Buy". You just need to pick your preferred payment method (Apple Pay is supported!), punch in the details, and you're good to go. You can expect a swift email confirmation once the transaction gets the green light.

STEP 4: Install and Activate your Data Plan

After buying your preferred plan, it's time to get that eSIM up and buzzing. We recommend installing the eSIM before your trip. This means once you land at your destination, you’ll be able to activate your package on the spot without needing to search for a reliable internet connection.

You can install your eSIM by using the Airalo website or the Airalo app (our favorite). 

If you decide to use the Airalo website, you have two options:

  • QR Code Method: After buying your plan, you'll receive a QR code. To activate it, go to your phone's settings to add a new cellular plan and scan this code. Your eSIM will start downloading. Watch the video below to learn more about this method:
  • Or Manual Installation: If you prefer to input details yourself or face any hiccups with the QR code, Airalo provides all the necessary information. Just head to your phone settings, look for the eSIM or cellular plan addition option, and input the details supplied by Airalo. Watch the video below to learn more about this method:

If you decide to use the Airalo mobile app instead, you will still have both the QR code and manual methods at your disposal, just like the website. However, the mobile app offers an additional method:

  • Automatic Installation (our recommended method): This is the simplest and most streamlined way to get connected. After you've checked out, you'll notice an option for auto eSIM installation. Just tap on it, and the app will handle the rest. Within moments, your eSIM will be installed, activated, and ready to use. Watch the video below to learn more about this method:
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This is what really makes Airalo stand out from many other eSIM providers who don't offer the chance to install your eSIM directly from their app. This will avoid the need for a second device to scan the QR code or to get confused with any manual setups.

STEP 5: Monitor Your Data Usage and Top Up

Staying on top of your data consumption is super easy with Airalo. Simply log into their website or open the app to check your remaining data. If you find yourself nearing the limit and your plan allows, you can also top up directly from the platform.

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Pro tip: Ensure you have a stable Wi-Fi connection during the setup, especially when scanning the QR code, to make sure the process goes smoothly!

Get 10% Off on Airalo eSims

As a thank you for being our reader, you can use the Discount Code 'FN10' and get 10% OFF on all Airalo plans!

Grab Your Discount Now!

Can You Make or Take Calls With Airalo?

There's more to the digital nomad life than just a solid Wi-Fi signal. You may not think so at first, but bear with me. Imagine trying to reserve a table at a restaurant only to realize you don’t actually have a local phone number to make the reservation. Crap.

Sure, many restaurants have hopped on the digital bandwagon, offering online reservations or at least a WhatsApp Business number for texting. But let us break it to you – not everyone's on board yet.

Just when you're soaking up the joys of connectivity continents away, you find out that Airalo's eSIM plans are mostly data-based. Not the best idea to find out on the spot, like when I recently wanted to reserve a hammam experience in Istanbul and realized my Airalo plan was data-only. 

To be fair, some plans do include calls and texts, but they're rare. So if you're all about messaging, using WhatsApp, Skype, or Zoom to communicate, then you're set with Airalo. 

But if you think you’ll need to dial a traditional number, double-check if your eSIM plan covers calls or check out other eSIM providers like Holafly. You can easily check if calls are supported in your eSIM plan before purchasing it by going to Buy Now> Additional Information> Plan Type. 

How to check if Airalo supports phone calls and/or texts

Will Airalo eSIMs Work With My Phone?

Don’t be one of those people who purchase an Airalo eSIM only to find out that their phone isn’t compatible with eSIM technology. That’s a noob move for an experienced international traveler.

As much as eSIMs are lifesavers and we think compatibility with all devices is a given, it's good to remember that actually, not all devices have embraced this technology yet.

If you’re team Apple, most iPhones support eSIMs, from the iPhone SE (second and third generation) onwards. So no, if you have an iPhone 8, forget eSIMs and start saving up for a new phone. To double-check if your iOS devices support eSIMs, watch this video:

If you’re team Android, most Samsung models from the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G onwards are compatible with eSIM technology. But with so many different phone models out there, it's smart to verify your specific device's compatibility

Also, keep in mind that while your phone may support eSIMs, your country/region, and carrier could spoil the party for you. For example, devices from Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macao don’t support eSIMs

So, before you jump on an Airalo plan, make sure your phone is up to the task. Here's a video to help you check your phone's compatibility:

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The good news is that most of the latest-generation phones (except for a few models) are compatible with eSIMs. But check out the full list of supported devices here.

Does Airalo Have a Loyalty Program?

Screenshot of my personal Airalo Loyalty Program account

If you're already leaning towards Airalo for its affordable eSIM options, there's another perk that makes it a great choice for frequent travelers: their loyalty program

Every purchase you make on Airalo earns you "Airmoney", which is actual money in your Airalo wallet that can later be used on future eSIM packages

It's a straightforward concept—every time you buy a data plan, you're also pocketing some savings for next time

This translates to significant discounts on future eSIM packages, giving you more value for your money.

Get 10% Off on Airalo eSims

As a thank you for being our reader, you can use the Discount Code 'FN10' and get 10% OFF on all Airalo plans!

Grab Your Discount Now!

Our Experience Using Airalo eSIMs

Woman holding a phone with the Airalo app on the screen

So, do we give Airalo the thumbs up? We've used their eSIM plans in various countries a bunch of times during our travels as digital nomads, whether it was in Southeast Asia, Africa, the Middle East, or Europe.

But to make things easier, we'll share our experiences with Airalo from our most recent trips to Thailand, Portugal, the Canary Islands, Georgia, and Morocco.

Airalo Review: Their Top Features

When choosing a data plan, don’t make the mistake of just caring about getting the most GB at the lowest price. You should consider the overall value and experience, which, trust us, goes beyond your data allowance.

We've found that Airalo's features provide a well-rounded experience that genuinely made a difference for us. Here’s what we loved: 

  • Effortless Setup Process: When you land in a new place, the last thing you want to do is fuss with your phone. The good news is that, if you’ve purchased an Airalo plan, you won’t have to. The setup process is so easy, even my tech-unsavvy mother was able to set it up on her phone and text me the minute she landed in Istanbul. The trick is to install the eSIM before departing so all you have to do is activate it once you’ve landed.
  • Global Coverage and Flexible Plans: Whether you plan everything in advance or prefer spontaneity to see where the wind takes you, knowing Airalo’s got your back with their global coverage and flexible plans is a lifesaver. If your itinerary includes more than one country within a region, we recommend going for the regional plan. We recently went to Southeast Asia, bouncing from Thailand to Cambodia, then back, and off to Malaysia. But we made the mistake of not opting for Airalo's regional plan. We instead purchased individual plans for each country, but we’ve learned our lesson. The regional plan is cheaper and includes coverage in all areas, giving us the flexibility to embrace our digital nomad lifestyle.
  • Prompt and Helpful Customer Service: Landing in the Canary Islands in the middle of the night, urgently needing to call a taxi, and realizing our eSIM wasn’t working was hardly the welcome we expected. We were so frustrated, it felt like steam was coming out of our ears. That's when features like 24/7 customer support come in handy. In just a few minutes, we spoke to the Airalo support and my eSIM was up and running in no time. Glitches can happen, but the way they handled it was gold.
  • Airalo Loyalty Program: Whether you’re a luxury or budget digital nomad, rewards always feel nice. We’ve recently purchased a lot of Airalo plans, from Thailand to Georgia, and one great perk was earning "Airmoney" on each purchase. These loyalty points quickly add up, allowing you to use them for subsequent eSIM purchases, which comes in quite handy, especially for budget-savvy digital nomads.

Our Airalo Performance Review Across 5 Different Countries

We know that when you're traveling and working remotely, having fast and reliable internet isn't just nice to have—it's essential. That's why we rolled up our sleeves and put Airalo's connectivity to the test in all kinds of different places.

We wanted to see for ourselves how it holds up, so we could share a real, honest look at what you can expect in terms of speed and performance.

Country Speed Connection details
Thailand 31.8 Mbps (download) / 16.9 Mbps (upload) Consistent across the board, including remote islands
Portugal 51 Mbps (download) / 12.3 Mbps (upload) Great everywhere, even in smaller towns
Canary Islands 28.5 Mbps (download) / 10.9 Mbps (upload) Impressive in populated zones, sporadic in isolated spots
Georgia 19.6 Mbps (download) / 11.3 Mbps (upload) Consistently strong, both in urban hubs and mountainous regions
Morocco 18.8 Mbps (download) / 8.9 Mbps (upload) Reliable in major hubs, fluctuations in rural zones

All in all, Airalo delivered across the board for us, and this consistent connectivity made our travels smoother and kept us linked to everything we needed. So well done, Airalo.

Get 10% Off on Airalo eSims

As a thank you for being our reader, you can use the Discount Code 'FN10' and get 10% OFF on all Airalo plans!

Grab Your Discount Now!

What Other Nomads Think of Airalo?

To bring you a even more well-rounded view, let's see what the travel community thinks about Airalo eSIM. We've gathered feedback from fellow digital nomads found on Reddit, Trustpilot, and Product Hunt to see what they are saying about Airalo and their eSIM.

Here are some reviews and opinions that caught our eye:

Users seem to praise the company for its excellent customer service, with several people mentioning the helpfulness and responsiveness of the support team. Travelers also appreciate the ease of signing up from the app and the fast speed. Some international travelers mentioned a few downsides, if not the fact that the eSIMs are slightly more expensive than physical SIMs, which, to be fair is a common comment often mentioned in relation to all the eSIM providers.

But if you consider the convenience of avoiding swapping SIMs, we believe it's still worth paying the surcharge.

Get 10% Off on Airalo eSims

As a thank you for being our reader, you can use the Discount Code 'FN10' and get 10% OFF on all Airalo plans!

Grab Your Discount Now!

Best Airalo Alternatives

While Airalo is a great choice, depending on your travel patterns, data requirements, or specific regions you frequent, some other eSIM providers might just hit the sweet spot for you. Here are four other eSIM providers we've personally tested and we would recommend checking out:

Holafly

A screenshot of Holafly eSIM Homepage

Holafly, on occasion, comes with a steeper price tag than Airalo. Yet, one can't overlook their offering of unlimited data plans. It's a tempting choice for travelers who don't want to worry about running out of data mid-journey. Holafly also includes a local phone number for voice calls or messages in some countries, which Airalo does not.

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SPECIAL DISCOUNT: Use our exclusive code FREAKINGNOMADS to get 5% off on all your Holafly eSIM plans!

Check the full Holafly review here:

Holafly eSIM Review (Tried and Tested): Is It Reliable?
Explore our in-depth Holafly eSIM review: global coverage, flexible plans, unlimited data, and top-notch support for travelers.

Nomad eSIM

A screenshot of Nomad eSIM Homepage

Although they don’t cover as many countries as Airalo, Nomad offers the option to buy more data, even boasting unlimited data options. This is an attractive feature for those who have hefty data needs. Unlike Airalo, Nomad eSIM also offers SMS-only plans and two providers to choose from in the USA.

Alosim

Screenshot of Alosim eSIM Homepage

If you're shopping on a budget, Alosim might be your go-to. They often undercut the competition in terms of price. Although they don't have as expansive a country list as Airalo, they often hit the mark for popular digital nomad destinations.

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SPECIAL DISCOUNT: Use our exclusive code FREAKINGNOMADS to get 5% off on all your Alosim eSIM plans!

Yesim

Yesim eSIM Homepage

Another great budget-friendly alternative, Yesim generally offers better prices in certain regions, like Southeast Asia. One of their most interesting features is a pay-as-you-go global plan, which eliminates the need to commit to a large data package upfront. Plus, their unique referral program lets you earn credits (called "Ycoins") to put towards future eSIMs just by recommending the service to your friends.

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SPECIAL DISCOUNT: Use our exclusive code Freaking3 to get €3 OFF all your Yesim eSIM plans!

Airalo Troubleshooting

If you have ever experienced any issues with your Airalo eSIM, we thought to share a step-by-step guide to help you navigate any bumps in the road:

  1. Check Your Phone Settings: Ensure that your phone's settings have the Airalo eSIM set as the active data plan. Sometimes, the phone might default to your original carrier or another saved eSIM.
  2. Turn On Data Roaming: While your Airalo plan might be activated, data roaming could be turned off for that plan by default. Check your device settings and ensure data roaming is turned on to start using your Airalo plan.
  3. Restart Your Device: It's a cliché because it often works. Turning your phone off and on again can help re-establish the connection with the network.
  4. Inspect Data Usage: If you've used up your data allowance, you'll naturally lose connectivity. You can easily check your remaining data via the Airalo app or website. If needed, you can also purchase additional data through the platform.
  5. Network Selection: Some phones allow for manual network selection. If you're not connecting automatically, you can try selecting a network provider manually from the list available in your device's settings.

Prefer to watch a video tutorial instead? Don't worry, we've got you covered!

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Pro tip: If the above steps don't resolve the issue, it's time to reach out to Airalo's customer support. They can offer specific advice tailored to your situation, and they're known for their responsive and helpful service.

Airalo Review: Bottom Line

We've been on the road quite a bit, hopping from one country to another, and throughout our travels, Airalo's eSIM has been a trusty sidekick. We're not the only ones—many fellow nomads seem to find Airalo reliable as well.

What sets Airalo apart from other companies isn't just its widespread coverage. It's how user-friendly their app is and how quickly their support team gets back to you when you're in a bind. Sure, it's not all perfect—finding a strong signal in more secluded spots can be a challenge—but on the whole, Airalo really delivers. The added bonus of the Airmoney loyalty program only sweetens the deal.

So, if you're after an internet connection that's both easy on your wallet and adaptable to your ever-changing itinerary, Airalo stands as a great choice. Whether you're an avid traveler or just occasionally seeking international data, we recommend giving Airalo a try.

Get 10% Off on Airalo eSims

As a thank you for being our reader, you can use the Discount Code 'FN10' and get 10% OFF on all Airalo plans!

Grab Your Discount Now!

Ready To Try Airalo Yourself?

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We'll see you there, Freaking Nomads!

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