Are you still relying on roaming to keep you connected when you travel? It's about time you say goodbye to roaming charges and choose an easier, more affordable way to stay connected. Keep reading to learn all about roaming, how roaming charges add up, and how to avoid them with an eSIM.
What Is Roaming?
Roaming is one way to stay connected when you travel abroad. It allows you to call, text, and access data when you travel outside your mobile provider's coverage area. When this happens, your phone disconnects from your home network and connects to a foreign provider's network to maintain your service. The catch: Relying on roaming gets pricey.
What Are Roaming Charges?
When you roam, you operate as a guest of a foreign provider's network and pay a premium to access their services. Here's a closer look at how roaming charges break down:*
- Data roaming charges apply when you use your data to browse the internet, use apps on your phone, and/or stream music and videos (charged per megabyte or gigabyte).
- Text roaming charges apply when you send or receive text messages (charged per message).
- Call roaming charges apply when you make or receive phone calls (charged per minute plus a connection fee).
If you have a local coverage plan, you'll incur roaming charges when you travel to a new region (e.g., a different state or province). If you have a nationwide coverage plan, roaming will kick in when you travel internationally (e.g., to a different country).
*These charges will depend on your particular provider and where you travel.
Why Are Roaming Charges So Expensive?
If you've ever received a roaming bill, you know roaming charges can add up quickly. But why? It all comes down to your mobile provider's agreement with foreign providers to maintain your service abroad.
Foreign providers set a rate for your domestic provider to "borrow" their infrastructure and services while you're in their coverage area. That rate includes additional fees for international tariffs, currency conversion, and more. It's paid by your mobile provider and passed on to you as a roaming charge.
How To Avoid Roaming Charges When You Travel
If you want to avoid roaming charges when you travel, you have a few options to consider:
One way to avoid roaming charges is to rely on Wi-Fi hotspots when you travel. Most urban areas have hotels, restaurants, and public spaces that offer free Wi-Fi. You can connect to their network and call, text, and use data without incurring roaming charges.
However, you need to stay within the Wi-Fi coverage area to maintain service, and you can't be sure you're connecting to a secure network. Plus, you're out of luck when traveling between hotspots.
Another option is to purchase a daily roaming plan or add-on from your mobile provider. An add-on is typically an allowance of data, minutes, and texts for a set price, while a roaming plan allows you to continue using your domestic plan for a daily fee (for most North American companies, this is between US$12 to $15 a day).
If you go this route, be sure to review the roaming plan in detail so you know what services you can use and how much they cost. Consider how much data you need when you travel to determine if you're likely to exceed your daily limit.
You can also simply turn off data roaming when you travel. This will prevent your phone from connecting to foreign networks while you're abroad. But you'll have to rely on Wi-Fi while you're away.
Here's how to turn off data roaming on an iPhone:
- Go to Settings > Cellular or Cellular Data.
- Turn on Cellular Data, then tap Cellular Data Options.
- Turn off Data Roaming.
And how to turn off data roaming on an Android device:
- Go to Settings > Connections.
- Tap Mobile Networks.
- Turn off Data Roaming.
Another way to avoid roaming charges is to buy a local SIM card at your destination. A local SIM gives you a phone number and access to data, call, and text services at domestic rates. If you have an unlocked phone, you can pop open your SIM tray and swap out your regular SIM for a local one.
This is an affordable way to stay connected when you travel — but physical SIM cards can get tiresome. You'll need to find a reputable SIM vendor, have a SIM-eject tool handy, and keep track of multiple SIM cards while you travel.
Luckily, there's an even better option: eSIMs. An eSIM is the easiest and most affordable way to avoid roaming fees and stay connected when you travel.
An eSIM is an embedded SIM — it's built into your device during manufacturing. Like a physical SIM, it identifies you as a mobile subscriber and connects you to a carrier's network. But it works 100% digitally. It's zero fuss: You can purchase an eSIM package for your destination, install an eSIM on your device, and instantly connect to a mobile network when you arrive.
Here are just a few benefits of using an eSIM for travel:
- Purchase and install an eSIM from anywhere.
- No surprise roaming fees (most eSIM plans are prepaid).
- Store up to eight eSIM profiles on your device.
- Manage your eSIMs 100% digitally.
- Instantly connect to a mobile network at your destination.
- Use it alongside your regular SIM (handy for two-factor authentication notifications).
Getting Started With an eSIM
Airalo is the world's first eSIM store. We give you access to eSIMs for 200+ countries and regions worldwide, making it super easy to stay connected wherever you travel. If your device is carrier-unlocked and eSIM-compatible, you're all set to get started.
Setting up an eSIM from Airalo is easy — here's how to do it!
- Download the Airalo app (iOS | Android) or visit the Airalo website.
- Buy an eSIM for your destination. You can choose from local, regional, and global eSIMs.
- Follow the step-by-step installation instructions.
- Turn on your eSIM line when you arrive at your destination.
- Instantly connect to a local network.
You're all set to avoid roaming fees and stay connected with an eSIM! Visit the Airalo store to find an eSIM package for your next trip.