As I depend heavily on getting internet access during my travels for social media posts and blogging, I have explored a number of travel data solutions for my trips overseas. These include getting a local sim at my destination, activating special roaming services from my current telco and most recently – trying AIRSIM. AIRSIM is a reusable travel sim card that people can activate as and when they go for trips. It works in a slightly different way as compared to other travel data solutions out there. Once you get the sim card, you keep it permanently and you purchase plans from AIRSIM’s website or mobile app as and when you expect you’d need data overseas. The initial advantage of this is quite apparent. There’s no need to queue up at some airport’s telco stand (where the queue can be quite long) to get a sim from your destination’s telco.
But how does AIRSIM stack up when it comes to access, pricing and data speed?
Getting the AIRSIM
When it comes to access, it’s fairly easy to acquire one of these sim cards. You can get one by purchasing a data package from the AIRSIM website or from their mobile app, “AIRSIM Roam.”
I got my AIRSIM delivered to me by post. It came with a document with detailed instructions on activation and usage both for mobile data and calls.
Using the AIRSIM – Mobile Data
When activating and using the AIRSIM, it is important to keep or take a photo of the holder which the sim card comes with initially. This is where you can find the access ID of your AIRSIM which you’ll need to log-in to the app or to use the local call feature through another app of theirs called Airtalk Roam.
Other than having to insert the sim card in my phone, there is just one other step I had to do when I arrived at my destination in order to start surfing from my phone. Depending on the country, one may need to tweak the APN (access point name). This can be done in the phone’s settings under mobile networks.
I used AIRSIM for mobile data in two trips – first was to Japan and second to Malaysia. To be able to use the mobile data, I changed my APN to “3gnet”. After saving my APN for my first overseas trip with AIRSIM, all I needed to do for the subsequent trip was to re-select this same APN in order to get my sim’s mobile data to work.
In terms of speed, the AIRSIM pretty much reflects the prevailing mobile data capabilities of the local carriers. I’ve even activated the personal hotspot on my phone in order to allow multiple users to share the network and didn’t have any problems whatsoever with getting things loaded on my emails, social media or browser.
Using the AIRSIM – Local Calls
Another feature of the AIRSIM is that you can also use it to make local calls. Most packages – even the cheapest ones – come with 30 minutes of free local calls and I availed of this during my trips in order to call my hotels or to liaise with GRAB drivers.
In order to activate the local call feature, one is required to download the Airtalk Roam app before going overseas and to activate the call feature by verifying one’s mobile number. Once this is done, you can make local calls by going thru the dialer in the app. Numbers are inputted as per normal, with country code + area code + number.
Prices are very much dependent on the destination, duration as well as the amount of data required. One-day data roaming access for Malaysia costs SGD 4 for instance or SGD 8 for three days, inclusive of 30 minutes local voice calls.
For normal trip durations, the AIRSIM packages can range anywhere from being slightly less than or slightly higher than the cost of a local sim. Given that there’s no need to keep on changing sims, this is a worthwhile proposition to consider.
Another sweet spot for the AIRSIM is that it offers multi-country packages. This works for travelers who are going for a Euro trip for instance, where a single sim that works across multiple countries would definitely be preferred. They also have packages covering both US and Canada as well as China and Hong Kong so it’s definitely worth checking out if you are intending to cross borders during your trip.
Decently priced and available in more than 100 countries, the AIRSIM is a product I would consider using again the next time I go overseas. In contrast to other travel mobile data solutions out there today such as the local telco’s roaming service or obtaining a local sim in one’s destination, the AIRSIM works best for short trips (i.e. between 1 to 5 days) or for longer ones where visiting multiple countries may be required.
This post was written in collaboration with AIRSIM. As usual, all opinions are my own.