Please sign in to post.

E-sim for travel

I would like to ask if anyone here had an experience with this new feature and could help me with the dilemma.
I have an iPhone Xs, unlocked, bought from Verizon. It has a regular sim and an e-sim, my current number is on a regular sim.
I will soon travel to Netherlands, Latvia and Ireland and would like to have an ability to call, text and use data. In the past ( I usually travel for 10-14 days twice a year) I've never bought a foreign SIM card and always used Verizon international plan which is really expensive for data ( 0.5 GB costs $70), I typically never use up their minutes or texts allowance which is generous but end up paying extra for data, on top of $70.
This year with this new phone, I want to buy an international e-sim card. Not sure if this is possible though. None of the countries I am going to have the capability of e-sim, but theoretically it should not be a problem as EU doesn't have roaming charges, and I could buy it online from Orange or Vodafone in participating countries. But it seems that they sell regular SIM cards for foreign customers and e-sim options only apply to their own customers. Am I right or I don't understand it correctly?
If e-sim is impossible for this short term travel purpose from a foreign provider, should I ask Verizon to move my regular number to e-sim to free up the physical sim slot and just buy an old fashion SIM card in Europe?
I also have an old disconnected iPhone 5s which I can bring along and pop a SIM card.
What do you guys think? Anyone has done it yet or came across it? This is all new to me, sorry if this topic was covered before.
Thank you.

Posted by
752 posts

Moving your regular service to the e-sim sounds like the simplest solution, I agree. My friend’s US carrier wanted to use the e-sim when they got their dual sim phone.

Posted by
1850 posts

Moving your Verizon service to the e sim does seem to be the way to go. An important benefit derived from this would be that you cannot lose your SIM. Once you return home just switch your service back.

Do make sure that your phone is unlocked. More details about dual SIMs can be found in the link below. Do take note of the part where you designate which service provider you are using. You don’t want to go through this whole process just to use Verizon by mistake.

Hopefully more phones will have dual SIM capabilities in the future. It’s a nice feature for travelers.

Posted by
137 posts

Thank you Barbara and Rocket.

I will move my regular number to an e-sim.

Posted by
824 posts

Look into Google FI (a cellular service run by Google). They support e-sim and their service is transparent in over 170 countries world-wide. The call rates while overseas is competitive with most of the pay-as-you-go plans you can purchase overseas and their data is a flat-rate $10 per GB up to a maximum monthly $60 charge.

Technically, your iPhone support is in beta but the only features you would lose (as compared to a fully compatible Google Fi phone) are automatic security updates and automatic VPN while on WIFI.

Here's what reckon you'd need to do (but call Google Fi technical support):

1) Sign up for the Google Fi server (before leaving home) using the "Bring my own phone" option.
2) Remove you Verizon SIM.
3) Register your phone on Google Fi.

When you get home, re-install your Verizon SIM (assuming you want to continue paying too much for phone service). Inserting the Verizon SIM will automatically disable your internal e-sim. When your phone restarts, it'll log back into the Verizon network.

Posted by
1850 posts

I have no actual experience with dual sim phones so I could easily be wrong but.... I doubt that inserting a physical SIM card would disable the e SIM.. After all isn’t one of the benefits of dual SIM phones the ability to have two lines of service active on your device?

Posted by
137 posts

I was able to move my regular Verizon number to the e-sim today. Let me tell you, it took 4 different tech support people, and a couple of hours of my time to complete this 5 minutes procedure. They told me it's not possible unless I purchase another Verizon line, and finally the tier 2 tech support person was able to do it but only after I told him what the procedure is ( I read the steps on reddit website; if anyone is interested you can google how to change the existing phone number to an e-sim ).
Now, I have a slot available for any SIM card and will not be afraid to loose the card with my home number.
I do need to call home a lot while in Europe and to call/text/online with my local European friends.
I came across an option of "Orange Holiday Europe SIM card".
I think it will suit my needs- $ 49.90 for 10 gig data, 2 hours of talk, 1000 texts covering Europe and many other countries, including US. It is only good for 14 days once activated and will work only from Europe, while there. They ship to US addresses, regular delivery a little over 9 bucks. It is still cheaper than Verizon plan!
We shall see how it's going to work out... I'll report back at the end of May.

Posted by
752 posts

Well done, You! Sounds like Verizon didn’t make it easy. Orange Holiday... I used it in September. They have arrangements with very good carriers in the countries you’re visiting. When you receive your Sim, be sure to register it online right away. Even if you don’t plan on using it more than 14 days, this will keep Orange from sending you concerned messages as you approach the 14th day...if your not registered, you can’t top up, and they won’t know that you’re leaving before the Sim expires. When you arrive, be sure to enable roaming and prioritize your Orange sim on your phone.

Please report back, as you’re one of the pioneers in dual Sim on this Forum !

Because you’ll have a French phone number, you’ll need to input every in- country number with the appropriate country code. Ireland +353. N. Ireland +44, Netherlands +31, Latvia +371.

Orange is very easy, if you want to make and receive calls and texts from the US as well as Europe IMHO. But if you’re spending most of your time in the Netherlands, you might want to investigate

Posted by
6 posts

I gave up with Verizon before I departed USA. (Currently in Paris after a cruise from Amsterdam to Antwerp.) The store manager in San Francisco tried to move my NANO SIM to eSIM but failed. Glad to hear steps are on REDDIT. I'm using WiFi for calls from my Paris apartment, but may still buy a European SIM to use for maps and translation while I'm out. I'll ask if I can "store" the Verizon SIM in the dual SIM tray for safekeeping. (iPhone Xs Max can hold 2 NANO SIMS.)

Posted by
137 posts

Thanks everyone for your helpful suggestions.

I received the Orange holiday Europe SIM card by mail today. Looks like they have a local US distributor- it arrived in 4 days by regular mail. Will definitely report back how it all worked, I am now tempted to try Verizon calls on WiFi as well.

when you get back home, call Verizon tech support and tell them that you need to move your existing number to an e-sim to free up a physical sim for a travel sim card. Tell them that you want to keep your existing Verizon number safe and are afraid to loose a nano card in Europe:))). I had to talk to a tier 2 tech support person in order to do it. You will be asked for an e-sim number on your phone ( he'll direct you how to access it ) and then he'll email your a QR code to scan with your phone. It is simple but for some reason they are reluctant to do it, or are just not trained to do it. If you google " switching from physical sim to e-sim on Verizon", you will be able to find an extensive discussion on reddit with over 200 comments. Very helpful info there.

Posted by
752 posts

So glad everything worked out for you! Here is a FAQs list from Orange, in case they didn’t send it with the Sim: Orange Holiday FAQs

And please do register your Sim online. It will eliminate a lot of texts from Orange, and make it possible to top up on line if you need to. Have a great trip!

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks to Irene for details! Home now.

SAFETY REMINDER TO ALL!!!! My USA/Verizon iPhone was stolen in Paris -- grabbed out of my hand while I was politely showing the thief map directions to the nearest Metro. He ran away with it faster than I could possibly pursue. I then spent 3 days changing passwords etc. on my MacBook Pro via WiFi in my apartment.

Very long story of getting a replacement phone for the remainder of the trip. Short version: Do NOT buy an iPhone in any European country unless you intend to keep it or return it to the store in person BEFORE you depart the country where you purchased it. I bought an iPhone in Paris and installed an "Orange" carrier 2-week SIM. I took the iPhone with me back to the USA primarily because I needed to set an 0530 hours wakeup alarm and get an Uber ride to the airport on my return day (too early to return the phone to the store that day). I'm currently battling Apple on this issue. Apple says phones under the 14 day trial MUST be returned in person in the county of purchase and the physical credit card used for purchase must be presented during the transaction (European law).

BOTTOM LINE: I fully intend to buy a "burner" phone with a local carrier's SIM upon arrival in the next country I travel to and find a safe place to store my personal phone, passport, etc. Old style, yes, but cheaper and less costly and frustrating to set up, and safer. Either that, or navigate the SIM hassles described above, then chain my personal phone to my wrist like a diplomat with a briefcase. (At least the iPhone Xs Max is waterproof so I can take the phone into the shower. Gallows humor!)

Posted by
169 posts

As a reluctant senior now, I like things simple. I travel with my MacBook Air and use email for most 'talks'. I have a basic local pay as you go phone for the country I spend most time in, and use it to text everyone local - who also text because it is cheap or free. While my N. American and UK friends laugh at my lack of smartphone, my old Nokia rarely needs recharging, is too old to steal, and is as small and unobtrusive as it gets. I may miss out on Whatsapping or Facetiming folks back home, but I travel to see people on the spot, and am not constantly looking down at my phone, which is a pickpocket's invitation. Just saying, my bad.

Posted by
17 posts

You have two problems - you're using an Apple phone with a single SIM and data. There are many EU SIMs that will give you great cheap phone and some that will give you cheap data coverage across all EU countries. Pity you didn't buy a dual-SIM phone!

We spend 3-4 months a year in EU. I've got an Oppo R9 with dual SIM & my wife has a Hauwei P20 Pro Plus with dual SIM. We leave our AU SIM in one and a UK (GiffGaff with 4GB data) SIM in the other. We don't buy roaming data. so the AU SIM doesn't have data outside AU and the UK SIM only has roaming data within the EU.

When in EU, we switch off the AU SIM and use the UK SIM for checking emails, booking accommodation. We send and receive calls from AU & the EU using WhatsApp or Messenger, when we have FREE WiFi and save the UK GiffGaff data for emergencies. When we have FREE WiFi, we periodically re-connect the AU SIM to check for messages and texts and reply using WhatsApp or Messenger from the EU SIM.

The question you need to ask yourself is whether you REALLY need immediate access to data. There is a LOT of free WiFi available in the EU. We take our Kindles and download music onto the phones b4 we leave. MAPS was really our major concern but we now download MAPS for the routes before we travel and the areas we're staying in when we have FREE WiFi.

A good plan might be to take your I5 and put your US SIM in it and turn it off when you leave US airspace. B4 we had the dual SIM we did this, left the old phone on charge at night & checked it infrequently for messages. Use the EU SIM in your new phone for everything.

Posted by
137 posts

I am back home and just want to tell that everything worked out well. I already had my regular number in E-sim and as soon as I lended in Amsterdam, turned off Verizon number and inserted a nano-sim card from Orange which I already had with me. It worked right away without a glitch throughout my whole trip, mostly 4G, rarely 3G signal.
The Orange holiday plan for 14 days was $49.99 and included 20GB, 1000 texts, and 120 minutes to call not only within Europe but to a lot of other countries, including US.
I thought I used a decent amount of data for Google maps, What's up and other things, but didn't figure out until later how to check the remaining credit balance. I was still cautious and used hotel wifi for long video talks and internet surfing.
In the end I've used 700MB, 100 minutes, and 20 texts. I texted mainly via What's up.
It was important to have a local European number to connect with my friends there ( it was free for them to call ) but retrospectively, they could just what's up with me as well. It was good to be able to call my parents in the US but they couldn't call me back for free...We ended up What'supping a lot.
It was still cheaper than Verizon international plan.
I didn't turn back on my Verizon number until I got back, therefore couldn't really play with the dual sim feature.

Posted by
752 posts

Hi, Irene,
Thanks for sharing your experience with the esim / dual sim. More and more travelers are inquiring about this. Beyond the technology, I hope you had a wonderful time!