One of the first things we all usually do when we land in a new country is head to a shop and buy a local sim.
That seems fairly simple, right?
Well, in reality, it isn’t always as fuss-free.
We’ve landed at airports all hours in the morning when there has been nowhere to buy a local sim, the WIFI isn’t working at the airport (or there just isn’t Wi-Fi because it’s a remote location), and it’s made getting from the airport to the hotel a little stressful.
Also due to language barriers in some countries, we’ve been ripped off and scammed when buying local sims.
We can’t rely on our own sims from home (we use UK sims) in all locations, especially now in the EU since data roaming charges are being introduced and there is a cap on the amount of internet data you can use abroad.
So isn’t there a better solution? The great news is, there is!
But first things first, in case you don’t know what they are:
Gone are the days of physical sim cards. And that makes me happy.
eSims are the new and improved way of getting data on your phone whilst abroad and they’re activated by scanning a QR code.
All you do is purchase your eSim online and the QR code will be emailed to you instantly so you can start using it right away if you wish.
You don’t need to start up a contract, there are no activation fees, and no subscriptions are required.
It’s important to note that an eSim will not give you a new local number, so if you want to make phone calls you’ll have to do it via Skype or WhatsApp (we make our abroad phone calls via Skype anyway, so no big change on our end)
There really aren’t many cons to eSims, only that they are only compatible with high-end mobile phones.
This means they won’t actually work with Brad and I’s current Samsung's (S8 & S9).
But it did work with our iPhone SE 2020.
Your phone will also need to be unlocked, this may be a problem for some iPhone users who sometimes have to pay a fee for their phone to unlock (correct me if I’m wrong!)
Ready to purchase!? Then get your eSims right here & get a discount with our code DREAMBIGTRAVELFAR
To make your life easier, here is a list of the phones currently compatible with an eSim by Holafly:
All iPads with 4G connectivity that have come out since 2018 support eSIM:
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 4G or 5G is not compatible with eSIM.
The Huawei P40+ is not compatible with an eSIM.
The chances are, if it is not on this list, then your phone will not be compatible with an eSIM, but if it's a new phone then it's likely an eSim will work.
If you want to double check, you can always contact the team at Holafly for advice.
You’ve got 3 MAIN networks that cover most of Canada.
Do note, that there will be areas of Canada that will have no/limited internet access, such as the Rockie Mountains and it doesn't matter what network your provider is.
We’ve been testing our Holafly sim in Canada and I can honestly say it’s been brilliant.
When Brad and I were researching data packages from local sims in Canada we were shocked at how expensive ALL the plans were in exchange for such little data. I’m talking, for $45 CAD you can get 1 GB data and unlimited SMS and calls, or for $55 CAD you can get 4 GB data and unlimited SMS and calls, or a whole 6GB for $65 CAD. All of them are valid for 30 days.
Now that’s just with the “Bell Network” and therefore if you don’t have a connection with them in one area, then you’ll not get internet access.
The prices are similar for all the networks in Canada.
Since Brad and I work online we need access to the internet.
We do a lot of our work in cafes, but on the days we don’t feel like going to a cafe, or we just need internet access in the evenings to reply to emails, or even just plan the next stage of our road trip, it’s important we have some access to the internet.
And honestly? 6GB over 30 days isn’t going to cut it lol
But thankfully, Holafly offers better deals for Canada data than Canada actually does, AND they tap into all 3 networks, so you’ll have the best chance of coverage as your mobile will switch to the strongest coverage on offer.
We've been using their 20g data plan for 30 days, and that's actually proved quite useful for us. If we need more data heavy activities, then we will upload via a WiFi connection, but 20G has been enough for maps, planning, researching, even uploading the odd Youtube video!
Another great feature of using Holafly in Canada is the fact that you can hotspot your data.
So Brad and I each have a phone, and then we have an iPhone that we use specifically for hot-spotting our laptops.
So we activated the eSim on our iPhone so it became our little portable hotspot device.
This is super useful because even our own phone networks from the UK won’t allow us to hot spot our data to our laptop anymore, they charge us for that.
As previously mentioned above, Holafly doesn’t stick to one network in Canada, it dips into whatever network is strongest in the area you are visiting to ensure you’re getting the best/strongest connection.
I’m clumsy, and I lose things, A LOT.
So every time I had to switch my current sim out for a new sim, I’d always be fearful I’d lose it, or even break it.
But with an eSim, it’s impossible to lose (well, unless you lose your actual phone!), and you can’t break them. So really, they are idiot-proof, i.e. perfect for me!
If you do run into problems, you don't need to wait until the office opens at 9AM as Holafly offer 24/7 support. T
here will be a dedicated team who will tell you how to get your eSIM working again if it stops working.
If you're heading out on a big backpacking adventure or multi-country trip, you won't need to worry about switching out sim cards for every country you visit!
With a Holafly eSim, you can simply buy a new eSim plan online and activate it in the country your visiting.
This honestly wasn't a big disadvantage for us personally, simply because we don’t actually use our phones to make calls abroad.
We always use Skype, because it’s cheaper and you know you won’t make a mistake (such as go over limited minutes included on a sim package).
But for some people, this may be a disadvantage.
But you will have internet access, so you will be able to make Skype calls or WhatsApp calls.
Based on our own personal experience, this is something that’s not dramatic or really problematic, just something to note.
When you connect to a Holafly network, the device you are using will switch to “hong kong” as your base.
So all your news on your website will be in Cantonese, your google maps will constantly redirect to Cantonese, and any computer prompts will be in Cantonese.
This isn’t a big problem, it’s just something I noticed! I’ve no idea if every sim redirects to Hong Kong or if the locations vary.
After your purchase, Holafly will send you instructions on how to activate your eSim! But it's very simple.
It's simply a case of scanning the QR code that was sent to you in your email with your camera phone and all in all takes about 5 minutes at the most.
Since we've only tested in Canada so far, I can't exactly vouch that it's going to work as well in every country, but considering Canada is one of the more "awkward" countries to get data, then I'd say the fact it's worked so well there, shows really good signs for how it will work throughout the rest of the world.
We'll be using our Holafly eSims in the USA too, so I will be able to determine if the best eSim for USA travel is Holafly after our time there, but I'm pretty confident it's going to go well.
You also have the option of a "north America" sim which will cover Canada, the USA and Mexico, which may prove a good option if you're planning on visiting all three of those countries.
So there we have it. If you’re looking for a GREAT VALUE data solution for Canada (which is renowned for being expensive for data) then I honestly believe Holafly is the BEST Canada data solution there is.
You can order everything online, and everything happens instantly, so it’s stress-free, worry-free, and most of all, it’s EASY!
I’ll definitely be continuing to use Holafly on our drive around the world.