Over the last two years, there’s been a massive transformation in the way travelers stay connected to the internet while abroad. As a tour guide, who regularly explores different countries, I’d consider myself a pretty serious traveler, and I’m so thankful for all the new and convenient options that are now available to us.
It’s crazy to think that years ago, I was never concerned with staying connected to the internet while traveling, not even with a local SIM card. In fact, I used to just use free WiFi wherever I could find it, using those few precious moments to send a picture or make a call home. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to appreciate convenience and ease, and I’ve become tired of relentlessly searching for spotty reception lines from cafes or shops. So, after the free WIFI days, I tried local SIM cards with local data packages, but after a few too many times forgetting to recharge the plan, I got a little tired of that option as well.
The last time I went abroad, I was searching through the options when I saw how much the packages and prices have recently skyrocketed. If I didn’t purchase one of these plans, I knew my only other option was to wait until I landed and buy a SIM card at the airport – always a hassle!
Luckily, though, after a lot of research, I came across an option that was cheap and convenient. An e-SIM provides the most cost-effective option while also being incredibly easy to set up. These eSIMs are great because you don’t have to lock into a long-term contract with a company or change out physical cards. In fact, all you have to do is enter a code into your phone and boom you’re connected. Plus, you get to keep your regular number.
After lots and lots of personal research, comparing prices, and trying out companies, I’ll now make your life easier by sharing all of the invaluable information that I’ve learned! Read on to discover the best options for internet and call packages while traveling abroad.
The Big Q – How much do you really want to pay for packages abroad?
When it comes to internet and call packages, I need two things: for it to work and for it to be cheap. So, that was the basis of my research in finding the most cost-effective and reliable SIM card options.
Most of the companies I talked to tried to offer me packages at crazy inflated prices, doing their best sales pitches to convince me that I couldn’t find a cheaper option. But, luckily, I held out and persevered!
If there is one thing I’ve learned from the extensive phone calls I made to these companies it is that affordable roaming plans are headed for extinction. But, do not lose hope as there are still a few honorable companies offering decent prices. My word of advice, though, is to be stubborn and to keep pushing until you settle on a price that works for your budget.
So, how do you find roaming packages abroad in a world where these companies are charging a fortune? Keep insisting or make a compromise.
If you want to compromise, just know that you will most likely end up with very little data for a very high price. If you’re frugal with your data, this may be an okay option, but in this day and age, most of us need quite a bit more gigabytes to get by.
Travel Package Options from Israeli Phone Companies
As a tour guide, I consider myself a global citizen. However, my passport is from Israel, meaning that all the phone companies I talked to were from my own country. Although prices will vary from company to company and country to country, this should give you at least an idea of the options that phone companies are offering these days, regardless of where you live. If you live in Israel, you’ll find this part particularly helpful, but if you live anywhere else, you may want to just skip to option #4 – eSIMS.
1. HOT MOBILE
The cheapest plan from Hot Mobile allows you to purchase a data package equipped with 5 gigabytes per month. Want to make a phone call or send an SMS? That will cost you 99 cents per minute. This slim package is offered at the price of 189 NIS. And the fine print says: only when buying online. So, if you want to use the extra help of a representative, you’ll have to pay 199 NIS.
Another option of theirs, that’s a bit more expensive, is a data package that includes 50 GB per month. This one is priced at 199 NIS when purchased online, or 209 NIS when purchasing with a representative. Although a bit more pricey than the previous option, it’s worth it for the extra gigabytes, in my opinion.
Hot Mobile’s final option is to purchase a 15GB data plan for 219 NIS or 30 GB for 259 NIS. Included in this package is browsing access to all kinds of popular and useful apps, such as, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Waze.
Conclusion: Convenience is offered, but comes at a high price.
2. 012 Smile
So, the first offer from Smile is a package that includes just 4 GB for 199 NIS for the month, if you pay online, If you want to set up the service with a representative, it will cost you 219 NIS. Then, it will be an extra 2.9 NIS per minute for both incoming and outgoing phone calls from Israel, and 2.5 NIS for text messages.
The second option they explained to me is called the Class package, offering browsing on WhatsApp, Instagram, Waze, Snapchat, and Facebook, all at a speed of 6GB per month. This plan costs 209 NIS if purchased online or 229 NIS if purchased through a service representative.
The final option is the all-inclusive, which is exactly what it sounds like. This pricey plan covers 40GB of data, as well as 300 minutes of calls and texts.
Conclusion: The high costs don’t add up to what is offered.
Cellcom’s cheapest option allows you to browse the internet but does not cover calls or texts. Not the greatest plan, but will cost you 149 NIS for a period of 14 days.
Another option, their “summer plan” gives you 10 GB of data and free browsing on all the most popular platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and everything else. Browsing time is spread over 30 days. This package will cost you 199 NIS if you purchase independently online or 219 NIS with a service representative.
If you’re someone who uses their phone a lot, you’re going to need more data. In this case, you could look into purchasing their “ultra-wide” data plan that includes 50 GB spread over 30 days. This hefty package is going to cost you around 269 NIS if you purchase online, or 289 NIS if you choose to purchase through a service representative. If you’re traveling with your family, it’s good to know that you can add an additional package of 5 GB for an affordable price of 49 NIS.
Conclusion: Cellcom’s data plans are much more affordable than most companies while offering more benefits.
After testing every company, I was left feeling pretty frustrated with the high prices I was paying for such small data packages. So, when a friend mentioned an eSIM from eSIMple, it was like music to my ears. This company has changed everything for me in the best way possible, and I recommend them to every traveler from any country. The best part is that it’s a digital SIM, meaning there’s no need to change out cards. Plus, you get to keep your regular number!
Along with their other long list of benefits, eSIMple offers extremely affordable prices. Here’s an idea of how much their packages cost:
- If you’re flying somewhere for a short trip of just a few days, you might prefer the data package that includes 1GB of browsing and 59 minutes of free calls for four days. This costs $6 USD or 22.8 NIS.
- Traveling for a week? The data plan of 3 GB of surfing around the world plus 100 minutes of free calls is a good option. This costs $11 USD or 41.96 NIS.
- If your travels will last three weeks, you can choose the package that offers 5 GB of data worldwide plus 100 minutes of free calls for 21 days at a price of $16 USD or 61.04 NIS.
- If your trip lasts a month, choose the data package offering 10 GB for browsing around the world, and 100 minutes of calls for 30 days for $23 USD or 87.74 NIS.
Some Last-Minute Thoughts & Tips:
- We live in a technological age, so use it to your advantage! Today, there is almost no need to make or receive regular calls or messages. We have the wonders of WhatsApp that allows us to chat completely free, so there’s no reason to pay exorbitant prices for a single minute of conversation.
- Before you go on a trip, you should prepare accordingly. If part of your trip is going to be on a boat at sea – prepare for the fact that you probably won’t have reception. This also applies to flights. Keeping this information in mind could save you money on data packages.
- eSIM is offered in 69 countries around the globe. Make sure that the country you are flying to is included in that list!
- While you’re traveling, it’s best to put your phone on airplane mode – this is a super easy way to save data.
Technology keeps us all connected in ways that were previously never thought possible. It’s important to take advantage of all the tech advancements available to us, and stay in contact with friends and family, no matter how far we may be from them. It shouldn’t be expensive, though, and with eSIM they’re making it easier and more cost-effective than ever to maintain connections while abroad.
Planning your next trip? Now is the time to stock up on a data package that goes the distance!
If you have any more questions about eSIM or any other data plans, please feel free to reach out – let’s connect.