The following is a guest post from Sunil.
My wife and I have family spread all across the world who we often visit. Due to the nature of what I do and both the need and desire to be connected throughout no matter where I am physically, it is important for me to have a reliable and affordable means of communication. I will share with you what has worked well for us as we constantly “trot the globe”.
Most of my phone calls while traveling are back to the US. I used to use my cell phone to make these calls but quickly realized there are other options that work just as good for much less. Using your carrier’s plan is the last thing you want to do unless you want to commit financial suicide.
So here is what I started doing. I started traveling with an unlocked global phone that is compatible with a removable SIM chip. Removable is the key word here. For example, Sprint phones won’t allow removal of the SIM, while T Mobile phones will. So you can chose one of the prepaid T-Mobile phones, or you can pick up a device that fits these specs from Ebay or Craigslist for cheap.
Once you have the phone, order the SIM chip needed to use your phone in the destination you plan on being in (yes I have 11 different SIM chips). To do this, go to SIM chip seller such as www.GoSim.com where you can purchase prepaid minutes for the country or countries you plan on being in. Once at your destination, simply replace the SIM chip and begin taking.
Now if you are only traveling to one country, it’s best to research the calling rates from that country to your home country. You can browse any cell phone provider’s site from anywhere in the world. Tools such as Google translate are helpful in translating foreign -sites to English to ensure you know of the latest and greatest deals. I’ve found some very good deals for calling the US from Europe for as low as 7 cents.
Better yet, see if you can leverage the internet for calling purposes. The disadvantage is that with most internet based options, you are tied down to a laptop. However, some modern technology such as the Vonage and Google Voice applications allow you to call directly from your handset through the internet, called voice over IP (VOIP) technology.
If you haven’t heard of MagicJack (www.MagicJack.com), it works! I’ve tried it, and so have my sister and brother in law who travel the world equally as much as us. For $40 or less you can use it to call long distance over the internet for a full year. There are no additional fees or charges outside the $40 you pay.
Again there are some disadvantages to going this route. You will need a landline phone device that you can hook into your MagicJack socket, and then hook that up to your computer’s USB drive. This also assumes you have high speed internet where you are. It is really eye opening how much of this world is still “undeveloped”.
Providing internet access is good, you can also consider applications such as Google Voice, which you can download to your smart phone and make calls directly from it to any number in the USA and Canada (assuming one of those is home). You do have to sign up for Google Voice and get your free number and account before you can do this.
There you have it – at least three different options to communicate for cheap while overseas.
Readers: Which one(s) have you tried? Which one(s) is/are your favorite options? Why? Any additional tips you can share to help us out?
All the best,
Sunil owns over a dozen profitable niche websites and is the author of “How to Go from $0 to $1,000 a month in Passive and Residual Income in Under 180 Days All in Your Spare Time“, a FREE report you can download instantly from his Extra Money Blog, where he discusses how to create multiple streams of passive and residual income, entrepreneurship, internet marketing, blogging and personal finance. In 2007, he sold his ecommerce website for $250,000 to a top Ebay Power Seller and since then has sold several niche sites for five figures each. You can read more about him and his work on his blog.
retirebyforty’s thought: We travel only a few week out of the year and we haven’t had the need to call home that much. Usually, we just buy a calling card when we need to call home. I’ve heard about Majic Jack and that sounds really great, but many places we visit do not have good internet connection. Someday, it’ll be much easier to call home.