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Dual SIM and Verizon Travel Pass

I have an iPhone 13 Mini, purchased directly from Apple (thus unlocked) with my Verizon Wireless account on the eSIM. [Edited to add: the 13 is a dual-SIM, one eSIM and one regular SIM slot.]

I'm heading to the UK for two weeks with my parents, and planning to purchase an unlimited data-only nano-SIM. (Thinking about a Sims4Travel Vodafone SIM, because Vodafone seems to have the best coverage in the Lake District? Sims4Travel gets good marks for customer service, too.) My parents plan to purchase UK SIM cards with both data and voice for their iPhones, so I'm covered for local calling needs, except for emergencies.

I tend to be a heavy data user, and I want to be able to text photos and videos to my husband and daughter back in the US (we're all on Apple devices). But if I want to call and hear their voices, I don't mind using FaceTime, or wifi calling back at the hotel. So I figured the unlimited data SIM was the best deal—everything else had limitations or throttling or extra charges for certain things, and this has unlimited 4G/5G data.

But I'd like to be able to check in on my home Verizon account occasionally, to make sure I haven't missed any important texts or calls. Thinking about enabling the Verizon Travel Pass option before I leave, but leaving the eSIM "line" either disabled entirely or on Airplane Mode, enabling it once or twice during the trip just to check up on things. That would also give me a voice option for emergencies, where I wouldn't be fussed about the $10 charge to activate it that day.

But I'm so used to always having a phone line available whenever data is available, I'm having trouble envisioning how a data-only SIM would look with my normal usage. Email and apps, fine, should work the same on data-only. And basically, I can communicate as usual with other iPhone users back home, as long as I can connect to a cell tower, right? They'll roll right over to iMessage and pop up using my data, correct? I know texts or voice mails from, say, an Android user won't pop up until I enable the eSIM line and turn off Airplane Mode.

Ideally, I'd prefer to leave the eSIM enabled with Airplane Mode turned on until I'm ready to check in, but I'm still worried Verizon will find a way to ping me for daily Travel Pass usage anyway. I know just disabling data isn't enough, but I need someone to tell me for 100% certain Airplane Mode won't result in Verizon charging me somehow!

At any rate, has anyone done something like this successfully? Or see any holes in my plan?

Posted by
258 posts

We were in Spain and France this past May/June. My iphone stayed in airplane mode, as did my husband's Android OS phone; data disabled, both used on wifi only. I had a sim on an old phone for local use while in Europe. We both occasionally received text messages from unknown sources - spam from US numbers. I was shocked and fearful we'd be charged by Verizon. No charges ever for those texts. I thought nothing could come into my phone on airplane mode; evidently not.

Posted by
1205 posts

I’m curious how this would work. It seems you’d have to swap out the physical SIM cards (one from Verizon, the other from Vodafone) each time you want to check your Verizon account. I wonder if some kind of activation would need to be done each time. And with my luck I’d lose the SIM card and be hosed.

I’m pretty sure you can make calls with Verizon without an international plan, it’s just more expensive. That might cover the “emergency” scenario. For texting, consider WhatsApp.

We DID have issues with Verizon charging for the $10 travel pass when we were in Spain. We would be in airplane mode, then get to an apartment and want to use their WiFi. As soon as we tried to connect to WiFi, the travel pass would activate. It seemed like as SOON as the phone was switched out of airplane mode and started searching for a connection, the travel pass activated. Very annoying and required a phone call to Verizon to fix.

Posted by
2 posts

Sorry, I wasn’t clear: the IPhone 13 is dual SIM, so you can have 2 accounts running in parallel. My regular wireless account is currently using the eSIM (no physical card), so the SIM slot is currently empty. That’s where I’d put the data-only UK SIM, and I’d manage the two accounts in Settings. No popping things in and out, because one is built-in.

But you can connect to WiFi while Airplane Mode is on. The only thing it should do is block cell signals, so in theory—according to Verizon—keeping it on AM when you connect to WiFi ought to be enough to avoid triggering the Travel Pass. I just don’t trust Verizon not to have a loophole they’re not telling me about.

Posted by
1 posts

I'm interested in the same info. On past trips we used European SIMs on the first trips, then the $100 VZ Monthly Pass last year. Our trip was 25 days and the pass only provided 5GB data at throttled speeds. We had connectivity issues in one of our Airbnbs so unbeknownst to me, I burned through data. My daughter has tried the $10/day plan for shorter trips but was constantly being charged even though she was just using wifi. So I'm considering an eSim for our upcoming trip but like you, concerned VZ will find a way to charge me. One thing I'm considering is the fact that so many credit cards use two-factor authentication and I couldn't get that text if I was using an eSim. Thinking about temporarily adding my husband's phone number to those account notifications. Also, if I don't set up a plan, I believe incoming SMS are only 5 cents or something like that. So, I don't know how to ensure data is not running for that number, but occasional incoming texts could be allowed, without all kinds of data unknowingly running in the background. It seems like I had all the appropriate settings last year, but it still burned through data.

Posted by
411 posts

We spent five weeks in England and Wales this past May. My husband and I both have unlocked iPhones with dual sim, including one eSIM. I wanted the ability to make calls in the UK without relying on WiFi or WhatsApp and enough data that we could use google maps for navigation. We were moving around a lot in rural areas.
First I went to Verizon and had them move our Verizon account to the eSIM slot to free up the physical SIM slot. Then I ordered SIM cards from giffgaff which they sent to the US at no charge. After the SIM cards arrived, I downloaded the giffgaff app and set up my account. You will get a UK phone number to use. For £15 I purchased 20GB data and had unlimited talk/text within the UK for 30 days. Even running google maps almost daily, I only used 7GB data. They have several plans available with more and less data.
The key to not activating the Verizon travel pass was making sure the Verizon cellular plan was turned OFF and only the giffgaff plan was on when we were out and about. If we wanted to use the Verizon plan when WiFi was available, I turned on airplane mode with WiFi before turning the Verizon cell plan on.
We used google voice and FaceTime messenger to make a few calls to the US over WiFi.