eSIMs: The Ultimate Solution To International Roaming Nightmares

  • Jan 04, 2024
  • | 241

Ever come back from a holiday and got a phone bill that was even bigger than your vacation budget? If not, consider yourself lucky! However, there are numerous instances of unwary travelers coming back to see roaming charges in the range of thousands of dollars despite barely even using their phones during their time abroad.

The specter of huge roaming charges is always an existential threat to the wallet of the modern traveler. While relaxing on the beaches of Bali or chilling out in the small towns of Mexico, wondering about whether you’re incurring roaming charges is probably the last thing on anyone’s mind. 

But the reality is that modern smartphones, combined with the usage policies set by network providers can blow up your phone bill if you’re not careful. Even if you don’t even touch your phone while on holiday, there is still a real possibility that you will end up paying huge roaming charges.

Don’t believe us? Take a look at some firsthand horror stories shared by unfortunate travelers and see for yourselves. But before we dive in, you should know that eSIMs make this problem obsolete. With a prepaid eSIM Europe plan from a provider like Holiday eSIM, you’re not spending an extra dime on roaming charges.

A Maldivian Nightmare

A week-long holiday to the enchanting island paradise of Maldives comes around to around $2,350 according to estimates. So, imagine the horror when you come home to a $2,400 phone bill!

That’s exactly what this couple faced during their trip to Maldives. Just because the hotel Wi-Fi had died and they weren’t aware, one of their phones started pulling in network data usually, resulting in their bills blowing up.

The worst part? They were actually sleeping while this was happening. 

But there’s no mystery here, apps installed on your phone can fetch data in the background and continue doing so without explicit permissions forbidding background transfers. So, it is no mystery that a massive amount of data could be used in a short while if you’re not aware.

While this greatly benefits network providers, the travelers are left confused and horrified at just how something like this could happen. 

An Outrage In India

This traveler, meanwhile, ended up paying over $710 in roaming charges during an emergency visit to India. This time, however, the individual had actively made phone calls. So what’s the big deal you might ask? Nothing at all really, until you realize that they were billed the charges after they returned to their country!

Upon investigation, no concrete explanation was provided by their network provider, chalking it up to a “system error”. Imagine if you didn’t really have the patience or time to deal with carriers who are often difficult to reach – you’d just end up paying for something that you never used.

But even if considering false billing, having to pay hundreds of dollars for just making international calls seems unreasonable in the age of eSIMs.

A Saudi Arabian Shock

Another person faced a massive shock during a work trip to Saudi Arabia, coming back to a whopping $5,000 bill. The complication arose from a combination of factors, including the use of Google calling apps and restrictive roaming options. 

Unwary about Google Voice’s policy, which is, unfortunately, not laid out so clearly for the average reader. Google Voice app's calls do utilize mobile phone plan minutes, a detail somewhat concealed in the app store descriptions. 

To make internet-only calls from a Google Voice number, users must use Google's Hangouts app. Notably, the iOS version allows calls to be restricted to WiFi, while the Android app's Hangouts Dialer exclusively facilitates calls over a data connection.

Some Tips To Avoid Unwarranted Roaming Charges

  • Deactivate Data Roaming

You can completely disable roaming data. Turn off roaming data on your mobile phone to prevent any unintentional usage while you're on the go. If you require an internet connection, seek out a Wi-Fi network and connect through that.

  • Use Airplane Mode And Avoid Calls/Texts

Disabling roaming data prevents data charges, but be aware that incoming texts and voice messages may still incur fees, even if left unanswered. If you land in a foreign country without activating airplane mode, your phone associates with the local carrier. 

Any incoming calls are routed to your current location, and if unanswered, they are redirected back to your home country, potentially incurring roaming fees. The specifics can vary based on your carrier, plan, country, and agreements in place.

To completely avoid such charges, activate airplane mode before departing and maintain it throughout your trip.

  • Opt For Texting

While texting may not be the most preferred method, it can significantly reduce roaming costs  Use Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to avoid fees entirely, and these apps also support free international calls when connected to Wi-Fi.

  • Disable Background Activity

Certain apps continue to use your device's data even when closed, such as email and social media platforms for notifications. Although background activity is convenient, it consumes substantial data. To minimize roaming charges, turn off background activity while traveling. Access your device settings, navigate to cellular data (on iPhone) or data usage (on Android), and disable specific apps.


While we can be more careful and defensive about our data and phone usage while abroad, it is always a better option to opt for an eSIM. Buy eSIM Egypt from Holiday eSIM and get worldwide coverage and unlimited use depending on your plan. Plans range from just $10 to $50. Save that money for your next holiday instead!