How to make calls while traveling internationally (2012 update)

I have written at least two times over the past three years about international phone calls.  I still remember the bad old days in 2002 and 2003 when travelers still had to pay by the minute to use a phone inside a booth.  Not knowing the international phone code for the USA (it is 1, by the way) I wasted plenty of money attempting to call home from abroad.  Things have improved significantly and our communications IQs have risen steadily.

So after you pick up my forthcoming book on Latin America travel, buy your ticket, and arrange accommodations, the next step is planning how to communicate.

Here are some of the best ways to maintain communications with home, job, and friends while on the road:

1. SKYPE.  The online phone service is basically free and requires no further technology than your laptop, andriod cellphone, or IPOD/IPHONE.  On your laptop, just visit and download the program.  A skype login icon will appear on your computer desktop.  For the others just visit the application store and click download!

Skype allows you to call other skype users for free, so tell all your friends to set up account s, too.  You can also find friends who already have skype accounts by their name or email address.  If you have a video cameras you will be able to see your contact!

Skype has lots of other options.  For example, you can place a few dollars on your account and call any number in the world for a few cents per minute.   You can also set up a skype phone number that will allow answer when people dial that number.  For IPOD or Andriod MP3 users this function is especially valuable.

2. Magic Jack.  The original Magic Jack is a hardware device you place in your computer’s USB port.  There is a subscription fee ($25-20 dollars) you pay. You then receive free calls to the U.S.A. and Canada.  Well, NOW you can bypass all of that by just downloading the Magic Jack application for the IPhone/Ipod Touch, Andriod, etc., for FREE.

You can then set up a Magic Jack account, receiving an actual phone number!
Or, you can just keep using the Magic Jack application on your phone, IPod, etc., as a guest for FREE. Free calls to the USA and Canada.

3. International cell phones.

If your travels require an actual cellphone or you want one as standby, then I suggest Telestial Cell Phones.  They provide low-cost phones and excellent global coverage.

Visit their site here: Click here for more information

4. Checking your Voicemail while abroad. Your home cell phone may not work in other countries. Cellphones use radio frequencies and not all countries use the same bands. But you can still check your home phone’s inbox while abroad. All you have to do is call your phone from your skype account, free magic jack, etc., and then when your phone answers press either the # or * key (it is usually the # key), and then you will be prompted to enter the password you usually use to listen to your voice mail!



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4 responses to “How to make calls while traveling internationally (2012 update)

  1. DEN1

    Got a last minute ticket and apartment to Rio Will get in on Mar 19. Not much time to arrange things. Is there someone I can hook up with locally once I arrive? Thanks Dennis

    • Depends on what you want to do in Rio. Do you need an apartment. check with Rio Beach Rentals. Also check their site for “other services” as they have drivers who can take you around town, pick you up at airport, etc. They also rent cellphones.

  2. The best bet is to rent a cellphone. Just contact Rio Beach Rentals. Try them first for sure. Contact Bobby at Blame it on Rio 4 Travel or John Thompson at Rio Rentals 4 Less. Tell all of them The Brazil Travel Center recommended them for cell phone rental. You will have a local number.

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