Remember calling cards, where you’d spend all kinds of cash to buy a card that let you make international phone calls from a payphone? The call would inevitably be peppered with a bunch of static and strange beeps, and you’d get cut off the moment the money ran out. Not anymore.
Today’s advanced technology lets you engage in international communication cheaply, easily – and without static or strange beeps. We rounded up the most economical options for staying in touch while overseas.
Cell Phone Plans
While some cell phone plans have astronomical roaming fees for international calls and texts, other carriers are more generous with their international communication services. T-Mobile gets kudos here, with a plan option that gives you unlimited international text for free, and international calls from Europe at 20 cents per minute. Various charges apply to other calls to more than 120 countries on the access list.
Voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) apps are an option for international texts and calls using Wi-Fi or other internet connection. The calls and texts are typically free, although data charges could apply. Some apps only let you communicate with people who have also downloaded the same app; others let you add new contacts as needed.
Skype: Skype offers a free download that gives you free Skype-to-Skype video calls, voice calls and instant messaging between two people. You can also go for a monthly subscription that lets you make calls to phones.
Facetime: Apple users can download this app on Mac, iPhones or iPads to make free video calls to other Facetime users.
Messenger: The Messenger app is offered by Facebook, but you can’t add new contacts that aren’t yet on Facebook.
WhatsApp: WhatsApp Messenger lets you communicate through basic messaging. You can also create groups and send unlimited images, audio, and video messages.
Social Media and Networking
Using social media or other networking options is another way to keep international communication fast, easy – and free.
Facebook: In addition to sharing photos and status updates on your timeline, Facebook offers instant messaging. This is a separate app from Facebook.
Twitter: Tweets and direct messages can be sent to other Twitter users from your account.
Google+ Hangouts: Send photos and instant messages, or video chat for free with up to eight other people on Google+ Hangouts.
Setting up a blog to keep your pals updated on your travels lets you reach a larger audience without a large, or any, cost. Free blogging platforms include:
WordPress: WordPress lets you create a custom blog to share your news, views and fabulous travel photos with the world – at absolutely no cost.
Tumblr: Download the free Tumblr app, customize your blog, share posts on other social media channels.
Blogger: The free blog site Blogger is available through Google and lets anyone view and comment on your posts.
Additional Money-Saving Tips
Although the VoIP apps may allow you to send as many messages or calls as you wish, make sure your phone isn’t racking up data charges along the way. You can also end up with sky-high phone bills from voicemail messages, app notifications and emails that are automatically pushed through; consider disabling them all to avoid high data charges.
Browse through the economical international communication options and choose one that best matches your budget, communication preferences and style. And yes, calling cards are still available if you must, although you may still get stuck with a lot strange beeping and static.
Have additional travel-related questions? Contact us today; Swift is always happy to help!