Worst Airlines for Fees/eSIM Cards/Train Station Translator

Nomadico issue #78

A weekly newsletter with four quick bites, edited by Tim Leffel, author of A Better Life for Half the Price and The World’s Cheapest Destinations. See past editions here, where your like-minded friends can subscribe and join you.

Where Tourists Outnumber Locals

Which cities are really overrun with tourists? This report has a rundown and some that are frequently mentioned as overtourism hotspots (like Amsterdam and Barcelona) don’t make the top 10, though Venice does. Thailand is the “winner” with the top 3 destinations. There are flaws in the methodology though. They’re counting air arrivals to Phuket and applying them to Phuket City, when in fact most visitors are heading to a beach resort. Plus it leaves out places where a lot of visitors arrive by cruise ship and the ratio is certainly 20-1 or higher, like Santorini or Grand Cayman. If you want to go where locals outnumber tourists, they’ve got 10 of those listed too, like Buenos Aires, Rio, Cairo, and Tokyo.

Airlines With the Most Extra Fees

Which airlines have the highest fees and which ones bug you the most with upsells? A company called NetVoucherCodes actually did a deep research dive and has some answers in this report. Hated Spirit Airlines came out on top worldwide. Ignore that Spirit price you see quoted on Kayak: “The original cost of the fare in our study is just $21.89, but the hidden costs added up to $161.12, over 7 times more than the base fare.” Others at the top were Volaris, Frontier, and Sun Country, while in Europe the worst offender is also no surprise: RyanAir. Fees up the actual flight cost there by 344%. Etihad led the international ones with 401%. Frontier, Aeromexico, and Spirit try to upsell you the most in the booking process. The good guys are Southwest and Air Canada, where the initial fare is closest to what you’ll actually pay.

eSIM Cards for International Data

Virtual SIM cards seem to be taking off among mainstream international travelers now and are supplanting the physical ones—on phones that are unlocked and eSIM compatible that is. They don’t require a “genius” or an airport kiosk worker to install them, they can work alongside your existing number (since you’re just using them for data), and you can do the whole process online. The well-funded leader in the space so far is Airilo, which offers 200+ individual countries or global plans. If you buy one for Nepal, one of the few places my T-Mobile roaming didn’t work, it’s $10 for 1GB good for a week. Other countries can be $30 for 10GB over 30 days and a global one costs twice that much but is good for 180 days. See the Airilo options here or to shop around, just search “esim” and the country you’re headed to.

Japan’s AI Metro Translator

What if you could walk up to the information counter at a foreign train station in any country and the person could answer your questions in your own language? Japan is offering a look at that future with an AI-assisted translator that shows the questions and answers on a video screen. The worker sees the questions in Japanese, answers them, and the customer sees the results in English almost instantly. Check out the video here.


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