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Nomad eSIM Review: Initial Thoughts and Comparison

Every new country starts the same way for me: hunting for a local SIM card the moment I land.

For the last ten years, this has been my ritual. Arrive at an airport, hunt for a local SIM, get connected. I’m often met with a million questions– is this the best company, how’s the coverage, where can I find an ATM to get cash, am I getting ripped off? I rarely know these answers, but in the moment, I’m desperate for connection, so I cross my fingers and make the purchase, knowing that any connection trumps an internet blackout. 

If arriving by bus or boat, this saga is elongated until I can find the first local shop, navigating in darkness until I arrive. Ooof, talk about stressful.

With dozens of country-specific SIM cards sitting at the bottom of my bag, you’d think I’d ditch this process for something more streamlined by now… and nearly a decade later, I finally am. 

A bit overwhelmed by the number of eSIM providers, I took the plunge earlier this year and researched the best of the best to get an understanding of which stand out and which might be best for my needs. You can see the complete roundup here, as well as reviews of what appear to be the top two providers, Airalo and Holafly, but I’m taking a look at one more, Nomad eSIM. 

So here we go, together, on the hunt for the best eSIM provider. Let’s find out in our Nomad eSIM review what makes Nomad stand out (or not) and if it’s a cut above the rest.

Don’t feel like reading? Skip ahead and use ‘MAXSGTWZ’ to get $3 off your first purchase (website, iOSAndroid).

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Understanding eSIMs

Before diving into Nomad eSIM, let’s clear up what an eSIM is and why it’s becoming a game-changer for nomads like us. An eSIM (Embedded Subscriber Identity Module) is an electronic SIM that allows you to activate a cellular plan from your phone without needing a physical SIM card. It’s a more advanced, convenient alternative, making the hassle of swapping SIM cards in every new country a thing of the past.

While eSIMs have been on the market since 2016, it wasn’t until Apple launched an eSIM-only phone in 2022 that eSIM technology became more popular. And with travel recovering post-Covid and more people working remotely, eSIMs are rising in interest. 

So, why the switch now? Along with everyone else, we’ve added a few new countries to our travel plans and eSIMs offer unparalleled convenience. No more frantic visits to local stores or figuring out foreign SIM card plans upon landing. Everything can be done digitally with a few taps on our phone. This not only saved me tons of time in Thailand, but also significantly reduced the stress of immediately finding cash upon arriving in a foreign country as well as a reliable local carrier.

Another bonus- eSIMs support multiple plans, meaning you can keep your home number and add international plans as needed. Plus, the flexibility to switch between plans on-the-go without juggling several SIM cards is a major plus.

After years of collecting physical SIM cards like souvenirs from over 50 countries, the idea of a streamlined, digital solution feels like a breath of fresh air. And with the technology behind eSIMs only getting better, it seems like the perfect time to explore what they offer. Having dipped my toe into the waters earlier this year, it’s time to round out my experiment as I prepare for another international adventure with a new tool on hand- Nomad eSIM.

Nomad eSIM: First Impressions

After understanding the basics of eSIMs, my next move was to head over to their website to navigate Nomad’s offerings to properly start this Nomad eSIM review. Of course, I already knew my phone was able to connect to an eSIM, but if you’ve got an older phone, that would be the first thing to check. You can see Nomad eSIM compatibility here. 

Overall, the website is easy to understand and navigate, allowing you to choose between local eSIMs or regional eSIMs in a variety of data plans and durations. I scrolled down to the “How It Works” section to confirm the process for setting up the eSIM– buy a data plan, install the eSIM, start your plan.

Nomad eSIM Review - How it Works

Image credit: Nomad eSIM Website

Since I wasn’t traveling for a few days, I simply completed steps 1 and 2, waiting to start the plan until I arrived in the next country. If you have questions about the purchase or activation process, the website has an extensive FAQ section

Tip: You will need internet or data to activate the plan so it's best to do it as your boarding the plan to your next destination while you still have connectivity in the country you are in. 

Nomad eSIM Features

Nomad eSIM boasts an impressive list of features, but a few stand out immediately:

Wide Coverage: Claiming to provide service in over 170 countries. You can see all the countries here. They also offer a Global eSIM plan, offering global connection, and several Regional plans offering coverage in a specific part of the world. While I didn’t need these for my trip, it’s perfect for nomads who are traveling quickly and need flexibility. It does come at a slightly higher rate, but worth the expense in order to maintain convenient coverage. 

Flexible Plans: From short-term travelers to long-term nomads, plans seem to cater to a broad audience with diverse data needs starting at about USD 2 per GB of data. 

Instant Connectivity: Promises of immediate activation caught my eye, offering a potentially hassle-free start upon landing.

Nomad eSIM Review - First Impressions

Image credit: Nomad eSIM Website

Comparing Nomad to Airalo and Holafly

Having tried Airalo and Holafly, I was curious how Nomad stacked up. Here’s the quick scoop:

Coverage: Nomad’s coverage is competitive, but Airalo seems to have a slight edge in the number of countries. Holafly shines with its unlimited data offerings in select destinations. From research and reviews, I’ve noticed that Nomad has strong plans in America, Europe, and Asia, but lasts competitive coverage (and value) in South America or remote areas. Something to keep in mind when choosing which company to use. 

Cost: Prices are in the same ballpark across the board, but Nomad’s flexibility could offer better value for mixed-use travelers. Airalo is often a bit cheaper for local data, while Holafly is much more expensive with unlimited data plans.

Reviews: Preliminary research shows Nomad holding its own, with positive feedback on ease of use and customer service.

Initial Verdict

Nomad eSIM presents itself as a strong contender in the eSIM market. Its blend of wide coverage, plan flexibility, and promising customer feedback positions it as a potentially ideal solution for digital nomads seeking simplicity and reliability. The true test, however, will be in the setup and actual use—areas I’m eager to explore next.

While I love Airalo, Nomad seems to be a top competitor, and I believe I will be choosing between these two when purchasing plans in the future. The deciding factor will be reviews, coverage, and price depending on the area I am visiting. While Holafly offers unlimited plans, those plans do not allow tethering or hotspoting to other devices, which is important to me for computer connectivity when I don’t have wifi. For some, unlimited data may be the selling point, especially if they do not need data sharing features. 

The Nomad eSIM User Experience

After my initial research, it was time to put Nomad eSIM to the real test—starting with setup and moving on to daily use. Here’s how it went down:

Setting Up Nomad eSIM

The setup process was surprisingly straightforward. After choosing my plan on Nomad’s website, I received a QR code almost instantly via email. I scanned the code with my phone’s camera, which triggered the eSIM download and installation. I waited a few days to activate the plan minutes before I was leaving for my trip, but the process was simple and straight forward. When I arrived in my destination, I was automatically connected while on the plane!

This ease of setup was a breath of fresh air and a significant tick in the plus column for Nomad.

Image credit: Nomad eSIM Website

When evaluating plans, you can see that duration of the trip (i.e, 10 days versus 30 days) impacts the price. There’s also information about which providers you will be connected to if that matters to you, as well as a variety of data options. You can click into each plan to read about the details. The first plan with 50GB of data also provides a local phone number, something I didn’t think Nomad usually offered. 

When I clicked into the second plan, no local number was provided (as expected). Most of these plans are “data only”, meaning you will not get a local number to make calls. For me, I’m used to making calls from WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Zoom, etc. so this wasn’t a drawback for me. However, if you’re in a country that relies heavily on local calls, be sure to find a plan that offers that. 

Nomad eSIM Review - Plan Details

Image credit: Nomad eSIM Website

Since I was only visiting Thailand for a week, I went ahead with the first plan, as it appeared to be a great deal! Detailed instructions about the plan, how to install, and FAQs were also available on this page. The purchase process was simple- create an account, verify my email, and enter my credit card or Paypal details. I then received a confirmation email, downloaded the app, and scanned the QR code. I waited a few days to activate the plan, just before I boarded the plan to Thailand. 

Connecting Across Borders

Nomad’s promise of wide coverage was on point. I activated the plan from my cell phone before boarding my flight and when I landed in Thailand, I was connected! The transition was seamless and definitely eliminated the usual post-arrival scramble for connectivity.

App and Customer Service

Navigating the app was simple and intuitive. And while I didn’t need customer service, there’s a form on the app and website to get in touch. You will need your purchase ID code, which can be found in the initial email (so don’t delete that!).

It’s important to note that there isn’t a 24 hour chat feature, so if you’re looking for a quick fix, you’re out of luck. Reviews on Trustpilot were mixed about customer support.

Daily Performance

In terms of internet speed and reliability, Nomad delivered. I experienced consistent coverage, with speeds sufficient for both work and streaming. While it’s hard to say it was superior to every local SIM I’ve ever used, it definitely held its own and proved reliable where it mattered most.

Data Usage and Top-ups

While I didn’t need to top up from my 50GB plan, there’s a spot in the app called “My eSIM” where you can monitor your data usage and add data by purchasing a new plan if you’re running low. 

Nomad eSIM Review: Trustpilot

Before deciding to purchase Nomad eSIM as my third eSIM contender, I did turn to Trustpilot to read other Nomad eSIM reviews.

The reviews echoed much of what I expected and my own experience—many praised the ease of setup and reliable connectivity across various countries. There were a handful of critiques, primarily around specific coverage gaps in remote areas, which is somewhat expected with any mobile service provider. There were also mixed reviews on customer service. 

Nomad eSIM Review - Review 1

Pros and Cons

After thoroughly testing Nomad eSIM and combing through external feedback, here are the standout points:

Pros

Cons

Final Verdict: Making the Switch to Nomad eSIM?

Given the ease of use, reliable service, and positive community feedback, Nomad eSIM stands out as a viable option for digital nomads and frequent travelers. The minor drawbacks, such as the lack of 24 hour customer service and occasional coverage gaps in remote areas, are outweighed by the significant benefits of convenience and reliability. For someone seeking a streamlined way to stay connected globally without the hassle of physical SIM cards, Nomad eSIM appears to be a compelling choice.

Would I make the switch permanent? Based on my experience, Nomad eSIM has earned its place as a go-to option for my future travels. I will compare Nomad to Airalo (my current top contender) and assess which to use based on price, data options, and reviews related to coverage in that area. If you’re looking for unlimited data, I’d definitely recommend checking out Holafly.

Overall, I’m in for the switch to eSIMs! The peace of mind and ease of connectivity it offers means one less thing to worry about when landing in a new country. And for a digital nomad, that’s worth its weight in gold.

Ready to sign up? Use ‘MAXSGTWZ’ to get $3 off your first purchase (websiteiOSAndroid).

And be sure to check out our complete eSIM roundup as well as detailed reviews of Airalo and Holafly. Choosing an eSIM will depend on where you’re going, your coverage needs, and how it compare (price wise) to a local sim. 

Max quit her corporate job in 2013 to take a chance building businesses online while traveling the world. Armed with an adventurous spirit and a can-do attitude, Max has traveled to more than 50 countries, embracing slow travel as a digital nomad and long-term living in places such as Thailand, India, Nepal, and Indonesia. Max currently resides in Bali where she oversees content creation for DNG as our resident travel aficionado.
Max Pankow
Max Pankow
Max quit her corporate job in 2013 to take a chance building businesses online while traveling the world. Armed with an adventurous spirit and a can-do attitude, Max has traveled to more than 50 countries, embracing slow travel as a digital nomad and long-term living in places such as Thailand, India, Nepal, and Indonesia. Max currently resides in Bali where she oversees content creation for DNG as our resident travel aficionado.

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