Produced in partnership with HolaFly

Being able to converse with someone in Spanish or German thanks to a language app, for example, or paying a fair price for a taxi in Croatia because I can instantly work out the Kuna conversion rate, are both very helpful things that can improve the travel experience. I even use my phone when travelling to book car-pooling on BlaBlaCar or manage booking reservations on WhatsApp – the bottom line is that having a good internet connection has become somewhat essential when travelling around Europe or anywhere for that matter.
*This article was produced in partnership with HolaFly, and written by myself after using their eSIM
Suppose your operator is increasing roaming charges from the UK, or you are travelling from any other country outside the EU which doesn’t offer roaming at a fair price. In that case, you may want to consider this modern and alternative option. 
This technology is available on most new phones and makes for a solid alternative as an eSIM for travel to Europe can be quickly set up (before or during your trip) without the need to visit a shop to physically buy one. 

Dan using a mobile phone to take a photo in Brussels
Most modern phones can accept an eSIM but be sure to check your device
You can see the current prices of an eSIM on the Holafly website and keep an eye out for sales, as you could buy the eSIM ahead of your trip and activate it when you depart. I expect this technology to expand and become more and more popular in the coming years, which will likely lead to even lower pricing. 

How will roaming charges affect travellers from the UK visiting the EU from 2022?

Holafly set up instructions

Get a 5% discount when you buy a Holafly eSIM with my code: DANFLYINGSOLO
Get a 5% discount when you buy a Holafly eSIM with my code: DANFLYINGSOLO

What is an eSIM, and how does it differ from roaming? 

I’m going to focus mainly on the benefits of using an eSIM for travel to Europe; however, many of these advantages would apply wherever you are travelling, and Holyfly offers eSIM for many destinations as varied as Australia and Ghana, to other multi-country bundles like Latin America.

I’d suggest using caution in how much data you buy so that you don’t spend more money than you need to. This is the beauty of an eSIM. You can simply buy another one if you run out of data and activate it in minutes without going into a store. 
You’ll also want to ensure you have data roaming turned on for the eSIM and, more importantly, turned off for your original SIM so that your regular connection doesn’t still activate when you are travelling and rack up those fees.
Sadly, the days of travelling with just a beat-up map and our gut instincts are long gone, and while it’s still nice to dabble in some off the beaten path adventures in Europe or further afield, the digital world we live in has undoubtedly changed the way we travel forever. 

How to get an eSIM to travel to Europe?

Dan using a mobile phone to take a photo in Brussels

Moments later, I received the eSIM by email, and to set it up on the phone, it was a matter of scanning a QR code, activating the correct settings using a simple to follow guide, and then it was instantly activated. It’s worth noting that the eSIM data and days begin the moment you activate it, so you want to do this on the day you travel at the earliest, not before. 
From the Holafly website (Get a 5% discount with my code: DANFLYINGSOLO), you can select the package you want – the number of days and amount of data – and make the purchase. 
An eSIM is a relatively simple yet very clever technology that allows your phone to connect to an internet provider without needing to physically insert a SIM card.

Holafly set up instructions
Easy steps to buy and activate an eSIM

What are the advantages of an eSIM?

However, one good piece of news is that the UK government has made their own laws to at least limit these new roaming costs, if not to ban them altogether. This includes a monthly £45 limit on what you can be charged before the operator must make you aware, and then you’ll need to opt-in to further charges. 

  • The main benefit, of course, is being able to stay connected to the internet, check maps, keep in touch, order taxis, etc. All the things you would generally use data and roaming for without incurring any roaming charges. 
  • You retain your old number in your phone, as it becomes a dual SIM phone while the eSIM is activated. This is super handy as you can still be contactable by phone and text to your original number. Anyone who has ever dealt with changing a SIM card in a bar because their bank wants to send them a text message before payment, or something similar, will appreciate how helpful this is. 
  • It’s more environmentally friendly – no packaging and no little SIM cards creating more plastic waste for a short trip.
  • You can still use the eSIM as a hotspot, so you can tether if you need to work (sometimes this isn’t allowed on SIM cards I’ve had abroad) or share your hotspot with friends.
  • Super convenient, as you don’t need to go and find a local store or buy a SIM. Sometimes I’ve wanted to get a SIM at the airport, so I have one to navigate straight away, but there weren’t any shops, or it was out of hours. Also, some countries require paperwork to get a SIM card which can take a lot of time. I imagine if you’re on a busy trip or a business person, this alone makes it appealing.
  • 24-hour customer support
  • Immediate delivery and setup 
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What are the disadvantages of an eSIM?

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Don’t get me wrong; there are still times I love to disconnect from everything and leave my phone at home. Whether that’s hiking in Peru or getting lost in the mountains of Tajikistan, there is no denying the sense of freedom is liberating. But then there are times when I want to be connected to the internet, not just to friends and family elsewhere, but also to the technology which can improve my trip. Over the last few years, I’ve really embraced how technology can improve my travels using the phone we all have in our pockets.

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