📱 This is still the best way to use a cell phone abroad

 

Estimated read time: 4 minutes and 19 seconds

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Good morning from the island nation of Mauritius, once the only home of the now-extinct dodo bird. 

This place is ridiculously beautiful, and I wish I had more time here.

I have to say, though… the name of the airport here is by far the best I’ve ever seen. It’s called Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport. 

Now THAT’S a name…

It’s named after the father of modern-day Mauritius. Look him up if you have a chance. He was an impressive fellow and instrumental in making Mauritius what it is today.

Anyway, let’s travel hack:

  • 📱 This is still the best way to use a phone abroad

  • 🏨 Earn an easy (but not cheap) 20,000 Marriott points

  • 🖼️ Meme

📱 This is still the best way to use a phone abroad

Back in the olden days (like a year ago), I wrote about the magic of e-SIM cards for traveling abroad.

And look… I’m not ashamed to admit when I’m wrong about something. We all make mistakes.

What’s even more meaningful than admitting my mistakes, however, is admitting when I am COMPLETELY right.

And that is exactly the case with eSIMs, which are better than ever.

Over the last year, I’ve continued to use an app called Airalo, and it’s been a life-saver. I’m using it to literally hotspot my computer to write this newsletter right now, and I use it every day that I travel abroad… so basically every day.

In case you've never heard of them, eSIM cards are virtual SIM cards that allow you to use your phone abroad without the need to physically swap out cards.

And Airalo is by far the best app for this. They make it super simple.

Here is how it works:

  • Choose the country or region you're traveling to

  • Choose how much data or length of time you want

  • Download the eSIM

  • Activate the service

It's that easy. The only prerequisite is to make sure your phone is eSIM compatible. Most devices that are only a few years old or newer work fine, but be sure to check ahead of time. A simple Google search will give you the answer.

Here’s what I love about Airalo:

Regional packages

They offer data packages for individual countries as well as entire continents and even global SIM packages.

I’ve been using the Asia regional package for the last month. I spent $100 for a package (they have much smaller ones, too), which gave me 50GB over a 90-day period.

It covered every country I’ve visited, including Japan, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia. It also covers plenty more….

50GB is a lot, but given the fact that I need to write this newsletter every day from anywhere, this ensured that I could always simply hotspot my computer to my eSIM so I never have to rely on crappy wifi (or lack thereof).

For the next leg of my trip, I’m using the Global package, which covers 130 countries and even comes with SMS texts and call minutes.

It runs a cool $89 for the largest package, but lasts a full 365 days.

So if I don’t use all of it on this trip, I’ll have access to SMS, phone calls, and data for any other country I travel to in the next year.

Rewards Program

Since I last wrote about them, Airalo has implemented a sweet rewards program, where you’ll get “Air Money” whenever you purchase an eSIM.

Since I use so many eSIMS with them, I’m a Platinum Member. So, you know, I feel wicked cool.

But it also means I get 10% Air Money back, which I can then use toward future eSIM purchases.

So when I make the $89 purchase, I get $8.90 back, enough for another short-term SIM down the road.

Tasty Dealz

Airalo has lots of hidden gems, in addition to the bulky regional packages. For example, you can get eight days of UNLIMITED data in Thailand for just $10.

Airalo is definitely not always the cheapest way to use data abroad. I still occasionally buy local SIM cards instead, especially in lower-cost-of-living countries where my dollar goes a long way.

Still, I’m also frequently happy to pay a little extra for the amazing convenience of Airalo. 

No physical SIM cards, super simple, super flexible, good value for money, good return on my money, what else could I ask for?

Oh, I know what else I could ask for… COUPON CODES. AND WE GOT ‘EM.

Until the end of the month, you can use these two codes to get a discount on your eSIM purchases with Airalo:

  • New Customers: Use code SEP15 to get 15% off your eSIM

  • Existing Customers: Use code SEP10 to get 10% off your next eSIM

You’re welcome.

🏨 Earn an easy (but not cheap) 20,000 Marriott points

Marriott is back in the ring with another promo that sounds good on the surface but is actually more sinister than it appears at first sight. In other words, classic Marriott.

Until January 26th, 2024, you can earn 20,000 bonus Marriott points through Marriott Homes & Villas.

Here are the deets:

  • You need to register by September 24th

  • You must complete a minimum 3-night stay before January 26th, 2024

  • You must spend at least $1,400 USD to qualify (that hurt to type)

This is very similar to other promos from Marriot H&V we’ve seen over the last year.

The main differences are that this time you need to actually register (which wasn’t the case previously), and the incredibly upsetting minimum spending requirement of $1,400 (🤮).

Still, there are definitely people who could benefit from this.

For example, if you’re traveling to many places in the U.S., $1,400 is not unreasonable for a five, six, or seven-night stay, any of which would earn you this bonus 20k points.

Alternatively, you could REALLY milk this here promo for all it’s worth by booking an extended stay somewhere super cheap.

For example, I was just in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and found tons of properties that only cost around $1,600 USD for an entire 30+ days…

7,500 Malaysian Ringgit is about $1,600 USD for this 31-night stay

If you live in a big-ass, expensive city like I do, this amount is akin to a month of rent, which is wild.

If you choose the latter option, you’ll also earn 30+ Marriott Elite Night credits, which can also be a way to boost you to a high level of elite status.

In addition to the 20k bonus points, you also earn 5 points per dollar spent at Marriott H&V properties, along with your normal elite bonus.

So overall, this could definitely be a good option for the right type of traveler, and it’s worth considering if you have a trip where you’d already spend that amount of money.

Given the long timeframe to stay, I’d register now before the September 24 deadline just in case you end up booking stays over the coming months.

🖼️ Meme

Whenever I write this newsletter while sitting on a plane, I always get super self-conscious about people looking at my screen. I need to hire someone to make this for me…

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That’s all for today, y’all. I’m SUPER POOPED after my long, eight-hour flight. So I’m gonna hit the hay. But since your day is just getting started, tell me something:

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Have a great day and see you tomorrow,

Mike Dodge
Head Writer, Daily Drop

20.3484° S, 57.5522° E