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How To Use eSIMs When Traveling

This post was sponsored by BNESIM who provide eSIMs in over 200 countries. [What is this?]

There is a lot of confusion about eSIMs, what they are, how to use them, and whether or not they’re better than physical SIM cards. The short of it is eSIMs are a very convenient way to get mobile Internet when you’re traveling using a provider like BNESIM.

What Is An eSIM?

Let’s start with physical SIM cards – piece of plastic and gold insert into a smart phone to identify it to a particular mobile network. A valid SIM card gives you access to AT&T, or T-Mobile, or whichever network carrier it’s tied to. So even though there are mobile networks and signals all around you, the SIM in your phone is the key to a particular network. Most newer phones though are capable of using electronic SIMs, or eSIMs.


With a physical SIM card when you want to switch mobile networks you need to get another physical SIM card for that other network – then you have to swap it out with the one you were using before. eSIM essentially fill the same role as SIM cards, except it’s all digital and done right on your phone.

Using BNESIM To Stay Connected

The most straightforward way to use eSIMs when traveling (and avoid expensive international roaming fees) is to download an eSIM provider app. BNESIM is available on iOS as well as Android and essentially is an online store for eSIMs. Before your next trip you would search for the country you’re heading to, let’s say Ireland, and then purchase one of several plans. You can get a 7 or 30 day mobile data package as a one-time purchase or choose a lifetime plan so any unused data doesn’t expire, good if you know you’ll be visiting a particular country again soon.


There’s also the option of a subscription which gives you a discount of around 35% and is useful for countries where you’re going to be staying for longer periods of time.

eSIM And Go

Once you’ve selected a particular plan and purchased it, the BNESIM app makes installing the eSIM very simple. You just need to tap the install eSIM button and after a few minutes of digital magic, your eSIM is installed. This is basically the digital equivalent of swapping out a physical SIM card except you can load multiple eSIMs and don’t have to worry about losing any of them.

After the eSIM has been installed (you can schedule when it is activated, ideally the day you arrive in the country you’re visiting) simply turn it on from your phone settings, make sure data roaming is activated, and if you’re SIM/eSIM from home isn’t needed, disable that line while you’re abroad.

Installation of an eSIM for a foreign country or activation doesn’t have to be done in that country either. I find it’s easier to have things set up beforehand but so long as you have a wifi connection you can get all the eSIMs you like. And that’s pretty much it. For the most part when traveling eSIMs are a much easier, less expensive way to stay connected. You can get the amount of data you need, add more credit if you run out, and do all of this right on your phone without having to go to a physical shop. A service like BNESIM puts the store in your pocket and can keep you connected in the places you’re headed to next, with a lot less hassle, time, and money.

Best Travel Tech Gifts Under $30

organic beanie

Shopping for people who travel frequently can be difficult as they tend to be minimalist, picky, and seem to have everything they already need. As someone who fits into that category, these are some things that have changed how I travel and become useful gear that doesn’t take up a lot of space across various price points.

For The Carry-On Only Warrior: $12

Going through security at airports means having to take out your sprays, gels, and other containers, even if they’re under the weight limits. The Ogato 3 pack of clear, easy-close pouches is perfect for small toiletries.

Tropical Traveler: $14

Small and powerful, Sun Bum makes a vegan, roll-on SPF 50 sunscreen which happens to be under the limit for most carry-on gels.

Romantic Road Writer: $21

A good notebook is the best tool for writing ideas, sketching, and connecting with your thoughts when traveling. Aside from the creative benefits of writing on paper versus digital jotting, the rugged Moleskin notebooks are perfect places to drop in receipts, postcards, and other small physical media.

Fingerprint Fighter: $25

This is the stuff they use in Apple stores to clean products and an iKlear kit will keep your screens and keyboards looking like showroom new too.

Digital Detection: $29

Airtags are incredibly useful for tracking the location of your things. Don’t believe it? You will after experiencing the power of knowing your luggage was actually packed on your plane before every single flight. Thanks Airtag.


Useful and durable don’t have to mean expensive, like the foXnoMad organic beanie, on sale now. For travelers, small gifts are a compliment and hopefully some of the 5 items above will make you their favorite gift giver this year.

The Worst Websites To Book Flights With

There are a lot of reasons to not use any of these sites but terrible customer service, undelivered bookings, and general hassle are some of the main offenses.

1. eDreams


Let’s start with the first offender, eDreams, a site that keeps their airfare listings low by basically not having a customer service department and by sneaking in fees right after you book. For starters, eDreams shows you the absolute lowest price you’ll definitely not be paying when searching. A lot of aggregators do this but eDreams is a particularly bad offender where your final fare can be 30-50% more than what you’re first shown.

Another shady practice many have come across with eDreams is they show you fares with their “Prime” membership discounts included.

So, for example for a flight from New York to London is might show a $535 round trip. Notice the greyed out fine print in the video above though and it’s actually $608. But eDreams automatically includes a free 30 day trial of prime when you book, which isn’t very clear – because Prime is $59 a year – so many people are unwittingly charged a month later for a service they didn’t explicitly sign up for.

You have to click to “Show other fares” to see the true price.

2. SmartFares


The trick SmartFares likes to do is show you low prices for a fare, then when you do book, will send you their confirmation code. That’s not confirmation by the airlines – a few hours, up to a day passes, then they say your flight wasn’t booked because the airline raised their price. They’ll then (hopefully) send an email asking if you want to book at the new, higher rate. If you try to cancel, they’ll charge you a fee to do so.

There are in fact so many issues with Smartfares that they’ve included an entire section in their terms about charge backs and credit card disputes. Basically saying you agree to not dispute any of their fees with your credit card and they you’ll be charged a $250 charge back fee if you attempt to dispute.

You know things are bad when there’s several sections in the terms on how you can not get a refund for botched bookings. My advice, avoid using SmartFares when possible.

3. GoToGate


GoToGate is so bad, in my testing, I wasn’t able to book a single flight. All were dropped, requests for refunds ignored, and there are fees for handling refunds. And believe me when I say, Gotogate will fight you and your credit card tooth and nail for that refund or charge dispute. They’re really nasty to work with so avoid them. Seriously, you can find a flight elsewhere.

There Is Hope

All services and booking sites not to mention airlines, screw up. They make mistakes are incompetent, some percentage of the time. With enough customers, even a small percentage adds up. But with eDreams, SmartFares, and GoToGate, that percentage is very high. To stay in business they make refunds difficult, charge fees wherever they can – and just enough people have a smooth experience that sites like Kayak still work with them.

Keep that in mind next time you’re looking for a flight and see an unusually low price through an aggregator. It’s probably too good to be true and if it’s one of those 3 sites I’ve mentioned, not worth the trouble.

Suriname Travel Advice: Your Questions Answered!

paramaribo suriname markets

Tucked away in South America’s northeast, Suriname is a unique travel destination not a lot of people know as a, well, know. The country doesn’t have much of a tourism industry but for those who know, you might be asking these questions. And for those who don’t know, these answers might just have you asking, should I visit Suriname?

Is Suriname Safe?

Personally, I like to ask the question “why would you want to visit” a place before considering security concerns because both a more related than it might seem. Most people though want to know if a place is safe first, so let’s start with that. Like any country or city, safety varies with geography. Paramaribo, the capital city and primary point of exploration for most visitors, is relatively safe. During the daylight hours many of the parts of Paramaribo you would want to visit are accessible by bike or on foot and generally the city is fairly calm.

suriname rain forest

Wandering around is relaxed and as a foreigner you’re not a spectacle or tend to draw any extra attention. After sunset, most of the streets become very quiet as offices and shops close, so walking is generally not advised. A taxi is your best option from point A to B and there are some local ride sharing apps that make arranging transportation easier.

Outside of Paramaribo, the same advice applies in many towns and other cities. Visits to the rain forest are a bit different – the concerns are more typical with being in a jungle environment. The highways that stretch across Suriname and link French Guyana and Guyana are considered risky, so be sure to put extra consideration into any potential car or bus rides toward the borders.

Why Would You Want To Visit Suriname?

Food. I mean, there are a lot of fun things to see and do in Suriname but it must be said and said again: Paramaribo is one of the best cities in the world to eat. The variety of cuisine which is hard to generalize but there are centuries of local east Asian and Pacific foods than have been imported to Suriname. Blending with the indigenous foods and ingredients that have slowly diverged into a unique culinary landscape, not entirely Asian or South American, but something all its own.

Not to mention the creole food or the countless Sunday markets that pop up with all kinds of street foods, snacks, and other treats. Really, Paramaribo is a foodie paradise. You can also head out to the nearby forests and see wildlife, including pink dolphins, monkeys, and caimans. There are local plantations and tours describing the history of Suriname, giving you more insight into the variation of people, food, and culture that exists here.

Two Questions In

Suriname might not be the top of your travel list if you’re not an adventurous traveler. That’s not to say Suriname is a difficult place but if you’re an experienced beginner or beyond, Suriname might be the next destination to put on your travel list. Though if you have any other questions, feel free to drop those in the comments below.

Use This Trick To Get 10% Or More Off Every Reservation

Making reservations for hotel accommodations can often seem like a budgetary afterthought since you’ve already spent so much time trying to find the best deals on flights. You then get to the hotel part of the equation and well, it’s often last minute so you have fewer options and with less obvious money saving hacks, you end up paying more than you should.

Within 24 hours to spare however you can use this trick to save 10% or more through

Look Don’t Book

First, start searching for accommodation on Set your actual travel dates, look through the reviews, and find a place to stay like you normally would. In case you have a Booking account you can login but it’s not a requirement for this to work. Once you’ve settled in on a hotel or other type of rental, click the “I’ll reserve” button and let it take you to the next page.

Add your name in the fields provided and importantly, make sure to give a valid email address.

Once you’ve done that, scroll all the way down to “Final details”.

Almost, Not Quite

After you’ve clicked the “Final details” button, you’re going to not do anything else. Yet. The trick to getting the incentive bonus from Booking is to not do anything for 24 hours. Since you’ve entered a valid email address, Booking knows how to get in touch with you. Their system seems to track near-bookings, that is, reservations that got very close to completion but for some reason you left.

With that in mind to try and get your business in about 24 hours will send you a discount code for around 10% off.

One Time Use

It’s not a huge discount but 10% off is better than nothing and for more expensive stays that can really add up. The discount code is one-time use only and usually comes with an expiration date, so don’t let it sit in your inbox too long. To continue looking for discounts though make sure you compare prices with other rental platforms and check for conference discount codes.

A Beginner’s Guide To Visiting Suriname

Suriname is a country that sees roughly 250,000 visitors per year putting it in the bottom half of all countries in terms of tourism. (Compare that to Chile’s 2 million in 2022.) The relatively small number of tourists to Suriname is not because there isn’t much to see, do, and eat here – it’s just that not a lot of people have found out about it.

Consider this short guide your introduction and invitation to South America’s diverse northern nation whose capital city might be one of the best foodie destinations worldwide.

Starting In Paramaribo

Suriname tends to be a warm, humid place most of the year, with a rainy season between April and September. Arriving around those months should keep you less wet (Suriname is 95% rain forest). Otherwise the weather is warm (30C+ highs) throughout the year due to its equatorial location. Most people arrive in Paramaribo by air and note that if you’re coming from a country with a risk of yellow fever, you will need a completed vaccination card.

paramaribo sunset

There are some good hotels in Paramaribo and they’ll run you about $75 a night. That gets you a large room and breakfast, not to mention central location.

Please Eat Here

Paramaribo might be one of the best cities in the world to eat. To get started, try some of the local roti – a flat lentil patty topped with a variety of vegetarian and meat options to your liking. For the ultra-local, make your way to Carili’s Roti Shop located in a quiet neighborhood in the center of town. Nearby there’s Jairoop and Roopram both competing roti shops if you can’t get enough of the dish.

suriname indonesian food

Another local favorite for breakfast (the smallest meal in Suriname) are the sausage and sandwiches from De Gadri. For dinner, there’s Martin House of Indian Food, and Lee’s Korean Restaurant which might be the best you’ll find outside of the Korean Peninsula. Mirosso for Indonesia flavors which might have you wondering: why am I pointing out Asian foods? The answer is these are not so much international restaurants as they are local restaurants run by generations of populations from Southeast Asia who arrived over 100 years ago.

Markets And More Street Food

Sunday is market day in Paramaribo and there’s plenty to choose from. The Chinese market is a good place to get produce and located close to De Gadri. Another, nearby market is the Kwatta Indonesian market, with more street food than you could ask for. There are also refreshing drinks like dawet, a cold coconut-based juice that’s loaded with sugar and tapioca. When you’re planning a visit to Paramaribo, try to plan your trip over at least one Sunday so you don’t miss the markets.

To get out of the city, there’s New Amsterdam, about a 45 minute drive outside of town. There you’ll see where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Suriname River, where old fort canons over look the horizon. Take a boat out on to the river to catch a glimpse of the local pink dolphins and tour the plantations to learn about Suriname’s colonial past.

This is just the beginning of all the things there are to see and do in Suriname. This short guide is more of an introduction to the country rather than a complete to do list. Remember, food, nature, and off the beaten path, Suriname has a lot to offer travelers.

About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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