What's The Best Way To Phone Home While Traveling?

Courtesy njk1951/myBudgetTravel
How do you connect with loved ones at home when you travel abroad?

Even if you're tempted to splurge during a vacation, chances are it you won't want it to be on your phone service. But when merely deciphering your cell phone plan poses a challenge, figuring out how to penny–pinch on it can seem impossible.

I had my fair share of phone–related stress in the days leading up to a recent trip to Namibia. I knew my Internet connection wouldn't be reliable enough for Skype, and I'd heard cautionary tales about careless travelers and their massive cell phone bills. In between work hours, errand runs, and packing sessions, I'd only spent about 10 scattered minutes on the phone with my cell phone provider. Did I have all the information, or would I unwittingly run up thousands in charges during my trip?

For all that fretting, it turned out to be pretty simple. As instructed, I dialed *228 before my trip (minutes before they closed the airplane door, in fact) to update the roaming capabilities on my iPhone 4. Once I'd landed, I kept my phone on airplane mode 24 hours a day. When I switched it on for the sporadic call, I was automatically connected through MTC Namibia, and able to call and text internationally without any trouble. The international rates were somewhere in the neighborhood of $2–$3 per minute. As long as I remembered to turn my phone back to airplane mode and switch cellular data off (I did), I avoided those massive charges.

Some of BT's other editors have relied on prepaid mobile phones or simply going off the grid when traveling internationally, while Skype, Vonage, and WhatsApp Messenger offer some of the most popular digital solutions for international calling and texting. But we want to hear from you: What's your preferred method for phoning home while traveling internationally?


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