a mobile phone with sim and memory card on yellow surface

Roaming or a local SIM card? What’s the best option?

If you are a remote worker, a nomad, or a traveler in general, you know how crucial it is to have a reliable Internet connection. No one likes to depend on a public WiFi to make a last minute reservation, check an itinerary, or find an email. It’s just pure pain.

But what is a reliable Internet connection? It usually means having a data plan that’s much more convenient and less stressful. But, should you go with roaming or a local SIM/eSIM card?

I’ve been working remotely for years and I tried many solutions. So here are my recommendations:

Get a local SIM/eSIM card whenever possible

The best option in most cases is to get a local SIM/eSIM card. It is way cheaper and comes with a local number you can use with local apps. (those not accepting emails. And yes, there are a lot)

To get a local card, you have two options:

  • For physical SIM cards: Get it from the airports stands. You’ll find many stands in every airport.
  • For electronic SIM cards (eSIM): Get it online before traveling. You can still install it and activate it, but it will only work when you reach your destination.

Tip: If your phone supports eSIM go for it instead of a physical SIM. It’s much more convenient and one less thing to worry about. Plus, you’ll certainly lose your SIM at some point if you keep ejecting it 🙂

When you shouldn’t get a local card

Getting a local card is the way to go, but there are a few cases when you should avoid.

For example, if you get a local SIM/eSIM card in Turkey you can’t access booking.com (and many other sites). It’s blocked nationwide, and given you have a local card, you are also blocked from it.

In these cases, and if you’re impacted by the restrictions, you should go for a different solution.

Personally, I’ve been using Airalo for years. It’s an app that lets you buy eSIM cards for any country beforehand, and you just skip any local restrictions on websites or traffic.

Airalo or roaming is also useful if you plan to stay for a short period (a day or two). You can buy an eSIM from Airalo for as low as 5$ (Only 2$ if you use my link), which is usually cheaper than local brands and roaming if you plan to stay for a short period.

There you have it! Get a local card if you’re traveling for a long period or if there are not local restrictions on websites/traffic. Otherwise, get a global card (from Airalo for example), or use your roaming.

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