Staying connected when travelling is no longer a luxury but rather, it’s an absolute stone-cold necessity. Whether you’re a digital nomad managing projects from a beach in Bali, or a casual tourist navigating strange streets, reliable and affordable data access is crucial for modern travel.

With the rapid shift from physical SIM cards to more versatile eSIM technology, finding the best eSIM provider can be a game-changer for international travellers looking to save on data costs in 2024.

This is something I know a bit about. Since I was first introduced to eSim 2 years ago, I have tried a whole lot of them. And it has become clear that not all eSIM services are created equal. The quest for the cheapest eSIM for travel involves comparing a variety of factors, including coverage, speed, and overall value.

But where does one begin in this sea of seemingly endless esim choices? Well, this blog post aims to unravel the complexities of selecting the most cost-effective eSIM for your travel needs in 2024. I will explore top providers who are making waves in the industry, break down their offerings, and provide you with ALL of the insights and info you need get connected without busting the bank.

Stay tuned as I help you navigate through the best deals on the market and uncover hidden gems in the world of eSIMs.

danielle on the phone at a British red phone box
Life without an eSim.
Photo: @danielle_wyatt

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Who Offers The Cheapest eSim For Travel

Sometimes numbers say far more than words ever could so I decided to kick off this post with a nice chunk of data. Basically, I’ve pulled together a bit of a snapshot of how much various eSim providers charge for 2 different popular packages.

CHEAPEST eSIM For Travel
ProviderDestinatonDuration (days)Price (USD)Data AllowanceLocal Number?Cost Per GB ($)
GigskyEurope15$13.993GBNo$4.66
Spain15$10.993GBNo$3.63
Jet PacEurope30$1810GBNo$1.8
Spain30$1810GBNo$1.8
Sim LocalEurope14$37.5530GBYes$1.25
Spain30$12.8810GBNo$1.28
NomadEurope30$1810GBNo$1.8
Spain10$131GB/dayNo$1.3
Sim Alo (Alo Sim)Europe15$82GBNo$4
Spain15$6.502GBNo$3.25
HolaFlyEurope15$47.00Unlimited dataNona
Spain15$47.00Unlimited dataNona
Sim OptionsEurope15$14.905GBNo$2.98
Spain15$8.503GBNo$2.88
YeSimEurope30$16.505GBNo$3.3
Spain15$14.305GBNo$2.86
OneSimEurope14$38.955GByes (additional payment)$7.73
Spain14$38.955GByes (additional payment)$7.73
AiraloEurope30$13.003GBNo$4.3
Spain15$6.502GBNo$3.25

You can see at a glance how prices differ. Be sure to pay attention to the package price, the average GB price and also the package duration.  For example, the Sim Local Europe package comes in at $1.25 per GB but it only lasts for 14 days before expiration whereas the next cheapest one, the Jetpac package lasts for 30.

The Cheapest eSim Companies For Travellers

Finding the cheapest eSim option for travel involves more than just looking at the price tag; rather you need to look at factors such as how much data you get, the duration of use, and whether the package includes a phone number (most eSims do not).

It’s very important to understand that some companies might offer what seems like a large amount of data for a low cost. But if you then end up purchasing far more data than you actually need, the deal is less appealing as you could end up spending double what was actually necessary for your travel data needs. See what I mean?

Moreover, not all eSim providers offer competitive rates for every destination. While some may present attractive packages for sim cards in Europe or North America, their offerings might not be as economical when you travel to less common destinations in Africa or Asia. This variability means that loyalty to a single eSim provider could be financially disadvantageous in the long run.

Taking a photo on my phone of a catamaran boat on a sunny day
Don’t wait till you get home to upload to the gram.
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

eSim companies are also well aware of customer tendencies to stick with one provider for convenience. They often employ ‘loss leader’ strategies, offering exceptionally cheap rates initially to attract customers, hoping they remain for future, possibly higher-priced services.

To truly find the best eSim deal every time you travel, it’s advisable to install multiple eSim apps and compare their offers for each trip. Don’t fall into the trap of familiarity, don’t get lazy and don’t let the provider ever turn your loyalty against you.

Shopping around can significantly reduce your data expenses and ensure you get the best possible deal tailored to your specific travel needs. Don’t fall into the trap of sticking with one provider out of convenience; the market is competitive, and there are often better options available if you take the time to look.

How Much Data Do You Need To Travel?

To help you find a well-priced eSim travel pack, you could probably do with knowing how much data you need to prevent overspending. This can be hard to gauge because you never really know how much you will need or use your phone until you get on the ground.

a girl working on her laptop in a cafe with a view of rice fields in Bali behind her
Full bars + Unlimited Data = Happy Digital Nomad.
Photo: @amandaadraper

Well to help you out, I’ll share some research-based data with you.

Now, the average adult human spends around 3 hours per day using the internet.  Let’s examine how much data you would need for three hours of internet use

Cheap Travel eSim
Type of internet useData usage per dayData usage per week
Google searches (45 minutes per day)67 MB470.2 MB
Directions (45 minutes per day)50 MB350 MB
Social media/messaging (45 minutes per day)66.5 MB466.5 MB
Listening to music (45 minutes per day)53.5 MB375.5 MB
Total (3 hours per day)23 MB1.66 GB

Now, this is an ordinary Joe/Jane’s daily use which may not reflect the increased or reduced usage of a traveller on a trip. So keep this in mind when making your purchase and remember the following; 

  • It’s always better to have a bit to spare than to run out
  • You can always top-up – but top-ups often come with a premium

Cheap Travel eSim Providers – The Nitty, The Gritty and The Shitty

I’ve already shown you the headline facts and figures, but in this section, I will introduce a bunch of different eSim providers and talk a bit about how cheap, or not, they are.

GigSky

Gigsky simcard

Right, so the boys at Gigsky have been running in the big sky for a decade and a half now making them veterans in the realm of eSim. The Silicon Valley tele-tech giant owns a lot of their own masts and infrastructure, so can effectively cut out the middlemen.

While this benefit is kinda passed on to users in the form of some low-priced packages, the data allowances are lower than some other contenders on this list. Still, $10.00 for a 15-day Spain package is not to be grumbled at and they offer free 100MB trial packages for everywhere.

JetPac

jetpac esim app

Not gonna lie, Singapore start-up Jetpac are fast forcing their way into the “firm freaking favourite” position. Most eSim’s last for 30 days, all of them are priced below $1.80 per GB and they even offer a $1, 1GB Global eSim pack to get you started.

The only downside is that they don’t cover as many destinations as other players quite yet.

Sim Local

sim local homepage

Sim Local offer some of the lowest price-per-GB data packs on the list. However, on closer inspection, I still have to question whether they offer the best overall “value”. 

For example, the Europe pack offers 30GB for 14 days which is simply far more data than anybody could ever need and if you are only going for 2 weeks, you would ultimately be better off with the Jetpac 30-day packet.

Sim Alo

person holding a phone with the aloSIM app open with the website open on their laptop

Sim Alo does offer some of the lowest package prices in the eSim business – that’s a fact. However basic data allowances are kinda low so they are NOT suitable for longer trips or heavy uses. 

For example, $8 for a two-week Europe region eSim pack is great but you may well burn through that 2GB within a week and be forced to buy a more expensive top-up

Sim Options

Homepage of SimOptions website

What I love about Sim Options is that they offer a range of eSims from different providers (including their in-house brand) so are always worth checking out.

They offer a good range of products and can offer numbers on some packages but not many) but $ for $ is not as cheap as some here.

HolaFly

holafly homepage

Plucky Spanish HolaFly were one of the first brands to really get into the eSim market and as such is well ahead of the pack. Here is the thing, their eSims really ain’t cheap and while they offer unlimited data, the standard pack duration is 15 days so unless you really plan on going hard on Netflix during your 15-day vacation, this is kinda superfluous.

In some regions, they can offer local numbers but alas, the last time I tried this it didn’t actually work…

Nomad

Nomad e-sim

Nomad does offer some great deals but it is my duty to report when I used them in Goa a few years back, I could barely connect.

Further, while their Spain package looks cheap coming in at $1.30 per GB, it expires after 10 days.

OneSim

Onesim hero section screenshot

Bostonites OneSim have been in the Travel Sim card space for yonks and were heavy hitters at flogging physical, global sim cards before they jumped onboard the eSim wagon. And to be frank they kinda look and feel like a once-cool-DJ following the latest trend, with low data offerings, steep prices and some shoddy tech-interfaces.

I left them last on this list for a reason. That said, they can offer local numbers to most destinations for a premium.

FAQs About The Cheapest eSim

Final Thoughts on Cheap Sims For Travellers

So there we have! As you can see, as the digital landscape evolves, so do the offerings of eSim providers, with various packages designed to attract different types of travellers. 

To reduce it down to 3 core principles though, always remember to shop around, be sure to get enough data for your needs yet don’t be swayed by ‘big offerings’ like Unlimited Data for 7 days.

With eSim technology, you have the power to stay connected globally without the burden of excessive roaming charges, so make the most of this technology by making informed choices that enhance your travel experience while preserving your budget.

Finally, in case you haven’t done it yet, do take a minute to install the Jetpac and GigSky apps right now.

woman on a catamaran taking a photo
‘Hey Mum look, I’m on a boat’
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short