When planning trips abroad, it’s still important to stay in touch with people back home. Usually that involves upgrading your cell phone plan so that you can call home whenever necessary, but there are other ways to stay in touch that aren’t as costly. Here are a few:
Local SIM Cards
There are a lot of people who, traveling overseas for the first time, don’t realize that they can’t use their cell phone as-usual when outside of their home country. Because of this, they mistakenly rack up huge phone bills and don’t know it until they’re home. If your preferred method of contacting friends and family is through your cell phone, there is an answer for this issue.
First, you’ll need to make sure your phone is “unlocked,” meaning it isn’t tied to your service provider and can be used with any of them: AT&T, Verizon, etc. Next, you can purchase a SIM card in the new country in which you’re either visiting or living. You can usually get SIM cards at the airport or in local cell phone stores. Prices will be based on the amount of data you need, of course, but SIM cards will usually run you anywhere from the $10 to $30 range and can last for a month. You can even add to them if you need to. Very convenient.
A somewhat new discovery, this nifty little app allows you to connect with your contacts through your WiFi connection, rather than through your phone’s data connection. It provides a nice little way to get around those extra charges. This app allows you to communicate via text, so if that’s your preferred method of contact, consider yourself covered. Just remember to make sure you’re connected to WiFi before trying to use the app.
Similarly, you could purchase a smart phone at your destination and get the WhatsApp app to communicate as well, which would completely eliminate any worry of roaming charges.
Maybe you’d rather catch up at the end of the day via video call? As long as you have an internet connection, you can use Skype for free. Skype is also a chat app, so you don’t have to use the video calling option if you don’t want to, but the person with whom you’re trying to connect does also need to have a Skype account.
The exception to this rule is that you can preload money into your Skype account to pay for inexpensive phone calls to those who don’t have Skype. It’s still not going to come close to your roaming costs if you were to try using your cell phone instead.
Google & Facebook
Both of these programs have chatting and voice calling abilities. For Facebook, you can simply click the little camera in a chat window to open a video chat. Use the messenger app and it can be just as convenient as calling and texting!
Google Hangouts has similar features. You can download the Hangouts app for quick “texting” back and forth, and you can have up to 10 people on it. It will also allow you to use video calling to keep in touch with your loved ones.
T-Mobile Global Roaming
Sometimes, you’re visiting a country where free WiFi isn’t available at every corner. It happens. When this is the case, you can opt for the local SIM card option above, or you can look into T-Mobile’s global roaming plan. Of course, the catch here is that you have to be a T-Mobile customer, but if it benefits you (maybe you travel a lot), then why not?
The plan allows you to simply use your smart phone as usual in more than 140 countries with “free” data. Of course, it isn’t free when it’s part of your plan, but you don’t have to pay extra for it, so it’s considered free. The plan has a few different options, and they are called the Simple Choice Plans. They start at $50/month. Calls can cost 20 cents per minute, as opposed to the usual $1+ per minute for regular roaming without a plan like this. The only catch here is that it’s a pretty slow connection. You get what you pay for, right? It will serve the purpose of helping you keep in touch, just don’t expect to be surfing the internet too much.
Traveling overseas can be just as stressful as it is fun and exciting, and trying to keep in touch with family and friends back home can be a major contributor to this stress. Check on your options ahead of time so that you know you’re! One less thing to worry about.
Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/phone-technology-sunset-black-872814/